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Empire State Games Road Race - CycleRoad Race

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North Salem, New York
United States
84F / 29C
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = 16/16
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I had another crappy night of sleep, and woke up this morning with my stomach doing back flips. It was probably a combination being outside too long yesterday, and nerves. This case of nerves wasn't like the feeling I get before a triathlon. The pre-tri "I'm ready to kick some butt in my age group" nerves is nervous energy. This morning was the "OMG, I've got to go climb all those damn hills at least 3 times!" nerves. I was truly anxious about this race.

I ate a very light breakfast of two slices of whole wheat toast, pineapple chunks, and a cup of tea. Not exactly the "breakfast of champions", but it was what I could handle at the time. The stupid elevator was out of order still so on my way to breakfast I had taken all my gear so that I would only have to carry the bike down the 4 flights of steps. I'm glad my bike is light, and I was hoping by the time I got back it would be fixed.

I got out to the start about an hour before te scheduled start of the first race. Guys are on wind trainers getting warmed up.
Event warmup:

I like to warm up before a short race, but for a long race like this I just want to ride around the parking lot a few times just to loosen the legs. For me the first five miles is my warm up.
  • 3h 00m
  • 39 miles
  • 13.00 mile/hr

Finally it's time for the Open Women's field to take off. The head official gives us the final instructions and warns us about the dangerous turns and descents and the potholes. Yada, Yada. Been there, done that, know this course. Let's get the show on the road. The first few miles is a neutral start where the field rolls along. I figured I'd just sit in until things got going. At one point I thought I was going to get dropped during the neutral roll. We were going down a hill and I hit 36 on my odometer. The pack was starting to pull away. I did get back on, but as soon as the pace car sped up I got spit off the back. It was a good thing the pack was in sight when we made the second turn onto Bogtown Rd, because there was no course marshal there. I was afraid I'd forget the turn on the next lap. Fortunately by the time I came around again one of my fellow USI tri-geekettes, Flori was posted there.

So began my lonely lady of the road routine. It was going to be a long morning. It wasn't too long before the break away group of the masters 55+ men came by. A little later Nancy caught up with me. She wished me luck as she went by. Again it didn't really matter what field I was in, I was going to be going it alone. Though in the masters I would be done after two laps. The other problem with the Open is technically I can't work with masters riders. Even if I could have hung with Nancy it wouldn't be allowed. I did get a number of the older guys ride up to me and invite me to work with them. I told them I was in the Open and could not do so.

The one good thing the race being down here is USI was the promoting club, so I had lots of familiar voices cheering for me. Though on my first lap somebody yelled "Go Gloria!" I said "It's Polly, not Gloria!" Under my breath I was saying "Gloria wouldn't be this far behind." This course had a number of killer hills. The worst was Oak Ridge Rd. Climb a hill to get to it, make a left and then it's straight up. The feed zone was on the first section which is the easiest, but as it gets steeper and steeper. The hill has 3 parts to it. Each part is steeper then the previous one. At the top, make a left turn and it flattens out though still an upgrade, and just when you think you've made it to the top, BAM! another short but steep hill. This road is interesting because there is a tree in the middle and traffic goes to the right of the tree. When I did the course in training a few weeks ago I took one look at that and opted to go against traffic. That side wasn't quite as steep.

I knew sooner or later the Open Men would pass me. I was just praying it wouldn't be on Oak Ridge or the screaming descent. Fortunately it was on a straight away so I simply pulled over to the grass, stopped and let them go by. One of the trailing vehicles stops and a guy asks me if I'm in Open Men. I said "No! Open Women." I'm not sure if I was more annoyed or if he was more embarrassed. Short hair, not much in the boobs department, helmet, sunglasses, and far off the back of the women's field, I guess it's an easy assumption to make. But you know what they say about assume. Make an ass out of u and me.

One of the ways I know my attitude about this race is different was when two trucks decided to stop in the middle of Hardscrabble Road. A moving van and had pulled into a drive way, and a UPS truck stopped right in front of me. Had this been a triathlon where I was trying to smoke my age group, I'd would had been seriously pissed. Here it was an opportunity to take breather. Several Masters Men cam up on me and actually crossed the yellow line and went around. I decided I would pass on that idea, especially when the UPS guy was holding up his hand. I simply stopped, and passed when it was safe to do so.

The other challenge on a course like this is balancing the whole drinking thing. On the first lap you can't receive new bottles or anything. I had a large bottle of water and a smaller bottle of Hammer Heed. By the time I got to the feed zone I was just about out of water, but still had a decent amount of Heed left. I dropped off my water bottle, assuming (there we go with the A-word again.) I'd get another large bottle. I was given a small bottle, but was not ready to part with the Heed bottle. I had to be judicious in my drinking so that I wouldn't run out before the third trip up the hill.

As I was getting close to the end of my second lap I saw Mark and said. "I hate you Mark!" Shortly after that I crossed the finish line and the official said "you got two more laps to go." I'm thinking to myself "Oh God, are they really going to make me do this two more times?" The inner-wimp was talking louder then the inner-competitor(masochist). I knew on this third lap the men would probably pass me again. Unfortunately a big group of the 35+ masters passed me on the screaming descent. There really was no place to pull over even though the wanted me to do so. Even riding the brakes I still had a lot of speed, and there was no way to stop quickly and pull over, so I just stayed as far to the right as possible and out of their way.

On this lap I also got caught by the women. One woman was off the front, and then a few minutes later the second and third women came by. Later another 4-5 women passed me. I figured this was increasing the odds that they'd pull me. The break away from the men's open passed me on another descent that was only a mile or so from the feed hill. I knew they'd be through the feed zone by the time I got there, but I was concerned that the field would overtake me while I was getting bottles. There was no way I was not taking two bottles this time around. I was totally out of Heed, and had very little water left.

I get to the feed zone, and my back is killing me. I drop the one bottle and Gemma hands me a new one. I drop the other, and I'm really wobbly. Dave gives me the other one, and the two them are pushing me as I get the second bottle in the cage. I have no energy to make any snarky comments to Billy. I'm dying of thirst, and I have these two fresh bottles, but on a hill this steep I can't take a hand off the bars to drink. I'm thinking to myself, "Just get to Maggie and Mary. You can drink up there." I'm also thinking, "If I have to go up this hill a 4th time, I may have to walk up it!"

Mary and Maggie were up at the top of the last steep hill by the park. Every time I'd come up they would be cheering for me. It was a good spot to have friends cheering. Each time I'd come up I'd say "See you in an hour." The third time up I said something to the effect of "I hope I don't see you again up here."

The last hill has a tree in the middle of the street. We had the choice of going on either side of the tree. The first time I had ridden the course Nancy and I went to the left against traffic. To the right looked longer and steeper. Just as I get near the hill four guys come up on me. One takes the road to the right. I hesitate a moment to wait to see where the other three guys are going. They take the left, and then I follow. I was glad it was only four guys and not the rest of the open field. Once I got to the top I could cope with getting passed by a large field.

As I made my way down to Hardscrabble Rd., I was wondering what was going to happen when I got back to the finish line. The masochistic side of me was saying "You want to do the 4th lap to say you did it, and have the distinction of being the last person on the course." The wise wimpy side was saying, "You're dying on the hills, they may have to give you an IV, just let them end your misery." Every hill I climbed on Hardscrabble the wise wimp was screaming louder then the inner-masochist. When I got to the junction of Hardscrabble and June Rd., Mark was still there. I told him, "If they don't pull me, I'm sending a hit man after you!" He tells me, "Don't worry, it's been taken care of."

As I approach the finish line the official tells me I have one more lap, but I can stop and finish one lap down. The key word was finish. I stopped, and verified that if I stopped on this lap I'd would simply be last, get the points, and not be DNF. When he said yes, that was good enough for me. As I walked over and sat on the grass I heard one of the officials say "Number 71 continued on." Number 71 was the woman from Long Island that I beat by 18 seconds in the time trial. When I heard that I started thinking "Damn, I'm such a wimp. She went out for the fourth lap. Maybe I wasn't that far back, I should have gone on."

Bike racing is different then triathlon or running races because you can be pulled out of the race, but treated as if you finished. So instead of being listed as DNF, I'm listed 1 lap down. I really would have like to finish the last lap, but it would have been very painful. As it is having only done 39 of the 52 miles, I'm feeling it these last few days.
What would you do differently?:

Train more on hills
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

Late start to training, technical nature of the course, and carrying 10 extra pounds up the hill.

Last updated: 2007-08-01 12:00 AM
03:00:00 | 39 miles | 13.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 16/16
Performance: Bad
Wind: None
Course: 13 mile loop to be done 4 times
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering: Below average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Bad
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? No
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2007-08-01 8:03 AM

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Westchester County NY
Subject: Empire State Games Road Race
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