Stats going into this race
Lost CPU about two miles before finishing my post ride 38 mile cool down so no data except the parts I remember. Doh.
Also managed to tweak the hip I did not fall on three weeks ago, perhaps as compensation or in a really long hypochondriatic search for a worst case solution - leukemia or the bone necrosis. Whatever, I assume it's just a strained muscle and have to get out of the saddle for pretty much every hill for the past two weeks.
On the plus side, if logistics for the riders is difficult, it's ridiculously hard for the promoters and they pull off an awesome job again this year with reg/marshals/EMT (even for non participants...)/refreshments/and a feed from the SJBC car sweeping the course at the end of the day!
Recognized one of the riders as MVV Bill, at six foot plus it's hard to miss him. The race started off much slower than last year as I was able to ride at close to FTP on the first short hills. Even so, since I lined up at the back, I had to close a lot of gaps when riders got dropped on the descents. On the last hill before the longish flat section leading to junction my chain fell off, but I didn't panic and was able to shift it back on with hand and catch the group pretty quickly on the descent but had to burn a match. Then we started going slow leading up to junction and it seemed a lot of riders were riding really close since they couldn't go faster than the riders in front of them, and they didn't want to give up their position by slowing. Then the slow motion ballet of riders going down started playing out in front of me with eventually three riders falling, and about ten of us slowing or stopping. Since it was still mostly flat and the pace was still slow, the chase to the pack was over pretty quick. Then we started the first rises on the big climb. I remember really having trouble here last year because we went so hard from the gun but this year I was able to follow, along with thirty of the forty five starters, at a pretty mellow for a race pace, at about my FTP. This continued for a really long time. Finally by the mid point of the climb, the mountain goats came out of hibernation and started accelerating out of the pack. I think I was nearly last of the thirty or so but just went at my own pace and picked off about a dozen riders. At this point I thought only about ten total riders were in front with three about one hundred yards ahead when one larger rider caught me from behind. He encouraged me to work with him to catch the group ahead so I rested a bit and pushed the pace a bit as we crested the hill and got us to within twenty yards. We lost them on the next hill. I could not see anybody close to us from behind as we crested this last big rise, and we committed to chasing these three down. This went on for a good five miles and we never saw them again. I thought we were in trouble when I kept dropping my on the road companion from Valley Spokesman as we were descending and he was much bigger than me. We, on the other hand, were caught from behind. Eventually we became a group of ten. This turned out the be the main pack as far as I can tell. At least this made the ride to the final descent much easier as more people could share the load, but it felt like some folks weren't pulling their weight. While I was in the middle of the paceline an insect of some kind flew into my helmet. Ordinarily I would stop and get it out but I really did not want to get dropped so it stung me a couple of times before getting tired of listening to me whine. On one of my turns at the front while going uphill I ramped it up to a much harder pace than before but this only caused a slight separation in the group so I waited until the last two sharp rises before the narrow bridge and attacked in earnest. My Valley Spokesman companion for the two man time trial joined up! So we worked together for half a mile when the other fellows behind us woke up and decided to try, and they chased us down. Since most of the other guys were much bigger than me, wasn't sure of my chances in the sprint but at least the attacks had given me good position in second wheel. On the final, crazy descent, three riders, who hadn't shown any cards in our little group, attacked and were joined by Valley Spokesman and gapped me and the rest. I was able to make up ground on the descent and first accelerated in the final straight to reel in the EMC rider, then got to the front three who helpfully weren't paying attention to the midget on their wheels. I saw the 200 meter to go sign and this finish hill was much shorter than the hill I use for long uphill sprint practice so I just went when it started going up, and gapped the rest of the field by about twenty meters. As it turns out there were fourteen folks ahead of us, so I ended up 15th/45. The max power I had on this sprint was really low, only 11 w/kg but I must have kept it high for a long time.
Compared to last year I felt much better after finishing this year, even after riding back to my car it felt like I had a ton of energy, just not strong enough to keep up on the long hill.