Wanted to do this race because I had never done it before. The profile sort of resembles 80% of OLH on the first big hill, and the second hill is like Haskins, so in the prior weeks went really hard on OLH and Haskins and set some PRs just to prepare myself for the probably length and intensity of the race effort. Wind is a big factor as the headwind on the big hill kind of neutralizes the strength of the pure climbers.
The race starts out pretty mellow because there are about sixty of us together and the road is narrow. Even though it's uphill from the gun the pace feels easily doable to me, any time I put my nose in the wind, and the effort required chastens me back to the safety of the pack. It only feels hard for the last couple of minutes, we crest the hill and effort turns out to be a bit less than my best efforts on OLH but with really stochastic with lot more short hard efforts interspersed with a lot of freewheeling. The descent is a bit sketchy with the pack intact but it's fairly easy to stay a bit farther back and catch up, then the right hand turn of the base of the second big hill comes up. It hurts to stay on, and I almost lose the pack when I struggle to stay on and realize the crest of the hill we are on is not the final rise, but a friendly voice encourages me and I dig a bit deeper and we catch back onto the group when we cross over 580. A long meandering descent at about 50 mph follows with a couple of short hills and the start/finish.
The next time up the big hill, the womens' 3 field is neutralized to allow us to pass. We still go up the hill fairly easy. Now we are neutralized to let the womens' 3 field pass us. When we get closer to the top, folks are putting the heat on and it's going to be a close call if we catch or don't catch the women's 3 field, and the moto is nowhere to be seen. It would seem unsporting to use them to cause a gap but this is what happens, if I had the legs maybe I would have done it, too. About ten guys catch then pass the women's field at the top of the hill, I am just behind and with the rest of the men we have a very hairy descent where a lot of people are going on the left side of the road into blind corners. We also have trouble passing the women's field due to the narrowness of the road. An oncoming truck narrow misses several of the riders on the left and I ease up to avoid any potentially cartwheeling bikes/riders. This time on the second hill I am with the second group and we are about twenty seconds back. We are going to catch the women's field and the moto neutralizes them for us, but the effort takes so much out of me that my legs don't respond when we hit the next small rise and I have to recover for a bit and the group rides away from me. Not sure if I didn't eat enough or spent too much time over threshold but didn't have any breathing problems, just no legs at this point.
One thing I would do differently in preparation if I do this again is probably intervals on OLH, then 84 to Skyline, then repeat to simulate the effort required for two laps.
D: 71.8 km