Another race of attrition is under the belt, this time with a dropout rate of greater than 50%. Why? The race was only 83 miles with about 5k of climbing. It wasn't very hot, around 85F peak, and humidity was tolerable. The wind...I hate the...yeah, well it was there and very noticeable for half the race course. The hills were steep and packed tightly together during the first 7 miles of the course. A twenty mile loop took us on a tour of the northern Catskills near an industrial looking town named Ravena in New York. We were north of the big mountains but there were hills aplenty, and we managed to hit a few of the good ones. One climb was a 15% switchback for about a half mile that we had to go over 4 times during the course of the race. The other notable climb was not as steep but still no cakewalk, and was twice as long as, if not even more than, the steep one. They came one after another leaving no time for recovery. The second half of the course was wide open and rolling with a stiff headwind blowing straight in our faces. What could've been a very fast and somewhat easy second half turned out, for me at least, to be even more difficult than the hills.
I toed the line with a few of the usual suspects, a smaller group than normal with about 40 starters, but the ones there were all solid racers. Roger Aspholm was the obvious choice for who to watch and follow. An incredible cyclist at the age of 42, he is consistently cleaning up at any race where endurance reigns supreme. I chatted with him for the first few miles about cyclocross racing and his future race plans, and after the 3 mile neutral start we were off. The group stayed together for the first lap but it was clear when and where everything would fall apart, at least to me. Roger said we should attack on the two big hills on the 2nd lap to ween the pack some and I agreed. Coming in to the longer climb, the first of the two tougher ones, I stood up and cranked up the power for about one minute then eased back to a still high pace but sustainable for a longer period of time. About 10 others came with me including Roger while the rest of the pack dropped away. We quickly built a gap, and going in to the 2nd climb we upped the pace again. This shed about 5 more riders leaving 5 in total.
We worked together for the remainder of lap two with the exception of one guy who tried to get a free ride in the rear. Going in to lap three Roger attacked on the hills. He went away with one other guy but didn't get far away from the rest of us. I was thinking maybe he should get away and he'll get tired and since we had the numbers we would catch him later on. Going in to the second climb, the other guy with him fell off and back to us so Roger was on his own. I really didn't think he'd be able to stay away for over a lap by himself. We worked together well for most the 3rd lap then it all started to fall apart. We still had the guy not wanting to help, and now everyone else, including me, was starting to feel the wear and tear of hard climbing and windy rollers. The chase fell apart with Roger off the front by over a minute. Going in to the 4th lap's 2nd, steeper, hill I turned around and saw another chase group of about 6 riders. They looked fresh compared to us, and quickly caught up. We rode together as a nice group of 10 riders and now I thought Roger would be caught. Going in to the rollers 3 broke away while I was at the very rear of the group. My legs were pretty beat at this point, dehydration was taking it's tool, and it didn't seem like I'd catch them so I decided to just stay where I was. A few miles later 3 more went off leaving four of us. We limped our way to the finish and gave a half hearted sprint at the line and crossed at roughly the same time about two minutes behind Roger who managed to solo and take the win. Very impressive!
This race was tough. From registering to racing to results the event was handled perfectly. The power meter software says the effort required was even greater than the previous weeks Tokeneke race.
Stats copied from Golden Cheetah software:
Time Riding: 3:36:24
Distance (miles): 81.9 (forget to start it until a bit in to the neutral beginning)
Work (kJ): 3548
Elevation Gain (feet): 4724
Speed (mph): 22.7
Power (watts): 272
Cadence (rpm): 93
xPower (watts): 311 (similar or same as normalized power)
Relative Intensity: 0.840
Daniels Points: 181