Ah nationals the the real chance at eternal glory on the elite cycling scene. Win once and you will forever be able to get customized jerseys with the stars and bars around your sleeves, doesn’t matter what category. If you’re the cynical type you could turn up your nose at the national champ stripes for not being in the ‘Pro’ category, but deep down we all want them.
Let me start off that I’m no good in extreme heat/humid conditions. I had a sneaking suspicion about this weakness for the past few years but it became painfully obvious last year when I was living in South Carolina. During daytime races I’d feel bad, like after one attack I was done kind of bad. If the race was a hot road race I could hang on fine, but if I tried to ride aggressively I’d get dropped harder than Andy Schleck in a Non-Tour de France race. Then I’d show up to a night crit and tear things up
Nationals the past two years had been in Augusta Georgia. Not a particularly difficult course, but guaranteed to be smoking hot. So going into it I didn’t really have high hopes (or any), but it was a team priority race and I theoretically should have been on good form from NVGP.
Oh how wrong I was. Don’t think my pessimism meant I was defeating myself. I did everything I could to prepare for the heat. For the past month I’ve been riding to and from work in long sleeve jersey’s to try to acclimate to the heat annoying my co-workers with incredibly sweaty cycling gear sitting in my bag at my Cube.
It was no use. I felt ok for the start of the race but as the pace picked up towards the end I just died I slow painful death. I did everything I could. I got a neutural feed EVERY single lap and and ice sock EVERY time (that’s 6 Ice socks + about 4 bottles from our feeder and an additional probably 6 neutral bottles in addition to the 3 I started with). None of it helped. When we hit the final climb the last lap I had about 30 seconds of go then blew up HARD. I was in the field with 1 km to go, but in that last k managed to lose 2 minutes on the field.
The race itself animated pretty much how I expected it to. With only elite teams allowed to compete no team seemed particularly big enough or strong enough to organize. A breakaway formed early on with 6 riders and never got more than 2 minutes. As the race wore on random guys would bridge the 2 minute gap and the break eventually ballooned to 22 guys, still inside 2 minutes. Global Bike and Elbowz racing were the only teams willing to put guys on the front to chase. With two laps to go actual attacks started shooting off the front. But the power in the field was too much and too dispersed to allow the field to break up. The breakaway was within striking distance all last lap but never quite seemed to get brought back. A few serious large groups got off the front mostly at the coaxing of Elbowz Eric Marcotte, but they would inevitably be brought back by dreams of red white and blue shirt sleeves. Eventually one rider from the breakaway succeeded in staying away with the rest of the finishers coming from the field (I think this is exactly how last year’s edition turned out).
Oh well, if only it had rained…
Next up is the Hyde Park Blast weekend…should be a different story I’m singing next week.