Sunday, September 11, 2011

LOTOJA 2011 - What could have been

According to my Garmin, my moving time this year was 9h54m40s. I can also tell you that I only spent 9 minutes stopped at the feed zones, and 1 minute stopped for a "natural break". If you're quick with math you might already be assuming that I finished the race in 10 hours and 5 minutes. Unfortunately that doesn't account for one other important factor.

The short story is that while I felt a strong as ever on the bike, spent most of the race in 3rd or 4th place, was on track for a sub-10, and generally had a great day, it all went wrong at mile 143. That's where I got my first flat... yes, first. In my panic it took me over 5 minutes to change the flat, and I lost more time and energy fighting a headwind solo trying to get back to my group.

After leap-frogging a few times, I found a group that was moving at a good pace - in fact, faster than my original group. I felt like we were making up time, and I was starting to think I might still be able to fight my way back onto the podium. At mile 175 I felt the same rear wheel starting to go soft, and seconds later I had to pull over to change another flat. In my frustration, I had failed to grab another tube and CO2 cartridge in Alpine, so this time the change took much, much longer - almost 15 minutes. After waiting helplessly for over 10 minutes someone kindly stopped and gave me a tube and CO2. Brett and Mark (also riding for Adobe) passed me just a minute or two before I was back on the bike. I hammered for several miles and caught them at the last feed zone.

At that point I was just riding to finish with the two guys on my team. Any goals of a top finish or a good time were gone. We covered the last 30 miles pretty easily. Unfortunately I didn't realize I was still in 7th place, nor did I realize that in the last 5 miles two other riders in my category had found me and were sitting on my wheel. When we got inside 500m, I sat up and looked back to make sure my teammates and I could all finish together. The two other riders went around me and took 7th and 8th. Brett took 9th, I took 10th, and Mark finished 11th.

When I got the first flat, I had a teammate with me. He kept racing and went on to take 3rd. In some ways I'm happy he didn't stop, because it gave me a way of knowing where I would have finished. On the other hand, knowing that two flat tires were the only thing that kept me off the podium was pretty disappointing.

At the end of the day, I'm still really happy with the overall results. I managed to sneak inside the top 10 even with 20 minutes of delay, and I felt great on the bike. I'm already looking forward to next year.

I also have to say thank you to my wonderful wife for supporting me before, during, and after the race this year. It made the whole event so much better. Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment