Texas Canine Ambush   
 Ride Stats
Distance: 26.61 miles Altitude Gain: 1,464 ft Avg Speed: 21.03 mph
Route: Drops to Hops Short Avg Grade: 0 % Max Grade: 0 %
Max HR: 166 bpm Avg HR: 144 bpm Terrain: Road: Hills
Bike: custom built Cipollini RB800 Road Club: Schuyler County Cycling Club
Weather Conditions: Sunny 74 F SW wind @ 10 mph
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 Drops to Hops Road Race
Everyone that showed up today was amazed that it was a truly nice day with warm temperatures and bright sunshine. This race, in Cooperstown, NY,has a history of abysmal, cold, wet weather. Turn out was light as compared with years past as there were eighty riders for the short course and another forty for the longer hillier option. I opted for the short course as I can occasionally actually race as opposed to getting dropped on the climbs by the big boys and chasing hopelessly for most of the remainder of the ride. Popped some cheap over the counter medication to clear the sinus and numb the knee pain before the ride and warmed up a few miles before the race and didn't feel too bad. I wasn't looking for any epic breakaways today and was hoping to stay with the pack in this B race and doing well on the last three miles of gradual climb to the finish. Had no teammates today, but the CNY squad didn't have any problem with riders though as it appears they had six or eight riders in the B group. I ran into trouble immediately out of the gate. It was supposed to be a controlled rolling start out of the entrance of the brewery, but I started in the middle of the pact and was dropped by the time I got onto the highway. Pace ramped up quickly and a mass of riders ahead of me decided to ride their own pace rather than go hard out of the gate. I unfortunately had to ride that slow pace until the group opened up enough that I could work my way through it. It probably took a half mile to get through the fodder, and by the time I got clear I was a quarter mile behind the group of twenty five or so that would make up the actual race. Can't complain too much though as I had entered the B race and a good portion of the group were either novice racers or tourist type riders trying to set personal bests. So I ended up hammering out a mile at thirty miles and hour to catch on to the tail end of the pack. Fortunately it was rolling downgrade with at least some tailwind. Still I was severely winded when I caught on. By the time I had caught up the CNY team had two riders away and a few more riding near the front to slow things down. There were too many fresh riders though and the pack was spread across the road so blocking wasn't very effective this early. I worked my way through the pack and got to the front just as the two flyers were reeled in. Tried to do a attack off the front on a slight rise but the legs just weren't there for it and faded back into the front section of the pack. We made the turn into climbing section of the twenty two mile race. Four riders hit the bottom of the climb hard, and I was unable to respond and just got hung out to dry. I was losing big time on the leaders and also positions as more riders passed me as the climb developed. As we crested the first section it was the four riders way out in front and another group of eight with a few seconds and then my group of three or four laggards. Thought that the day really wasn't going to well but at least I would get top twenty as usually my position over the top of the climb corresponded quite well with my finishing position. After a mile or so of plateau we headed up the second half of the climb. One of the riders in my small group came out of the saddle and passed me in an attempt to bridge the gap to the second group. I came out of the saddle to try and stay with him and was surprised when my climbing legs actually kicked in. I quickly passed and dropped the rider ahead of me and was rapidly gaining on the group up the road. The hill kicks up with a short steep section right before the top and the group ahead shattered on that section. That was good for me as I wouldn't be chasing a group on the fast downhill section but only individual riders. I was able to get over the steep section and attach myself to the final rider of the group around the turn at the top of the hill. Things were looking up for me though as the group of four riders way up the road had two CNY riders in it. The group immediately ahead of me had three CNY riders in it and if they started blocking I would have a good chance of catching the second group and have a chance at a top ten finish on the final climb. So the math looked good if my recently returned climbing legs would stay with me for a few more miles. Traded hard pulls with a CNY rider on the downhill and we started to pull riders back to us. By the bottom of the climb the group reformed, and I was in it this time. The next section of the course was ten miles off long rollers into the wind. The three CNY riders were not interested in pursuing their teammates and were urging the group to ride steady and save it for the final climb. Since the rollers were more of a strong point for me, and I had been outclimbed on the first climb by everyone in the group I couldn't see any benefit for me to sit in. I started hitting the rollers hard on the climbs and sitting in on the backsides. One of the CNY riders in our group fell off the back into oblivion. and we saw a solo rider ahead that had dropped off the front four. A young rider from Syracuse and I quickly hauled him in with minimal interference from the two remaining CNY riders. After a couple of more hard pulls we had the two other riders in sight. I thought we had a good chance of pulling them in too as one of them was a CNY rider and would not be doing any work with the lone leader being his teammate. We were able to pull them back after a couple of miles and that left only one rider up the road. The CNY riders shut me down after that as they put the block on and pretty much isolated me from the group. I tried to talk the Syracuse rider into attacking since if they were focused on me he might be able to get away. He thought it was too far in the headwind though didn't seem keen on trying it. I gave up the pursuit and started coasting which almost caused a CNY to run off the road as he would not go by me no matter how slow I went. Looking back I should have just tried a solo attack and ride them into the ground as it was late in the race and still get a top ten finish even if I bonked and the group dropped me. I went to the back and sat in instead. That in itself was another poor decision as when we came to the final turn for the finishing climb the lead rider missed the turn. So half the group made the turn and I had to go wide to miss the riders that went straight to avoid collisions. I actually made the turn though with no speed up the start of the climb. Two riders hit it hard and they were over the top before I was half way up the first steep section. Once I got over that steeper section there was still two miles of upgrade left and I was able to pull myself back to a small group before the finish. The lone rider in the lead finished a minute ahead of us with the two riders that made the final turn with speed were up thirty seconds. I probably could have pulled a fourth out of the race if I was able to contest the sprint, as I still had good legs. Unfortunately I was outfoxed and boxed in up the finishing section. I tried to go by a CNY rider across the line but he drifted left and pinched me between himself and some traffic cones. I was able to squeeze in enough to get the same time as him but he finished a half wheel ahead as I didn't have enough room to get my handlebars by his. So I pulled in fifth position and won my age group. The winner was actually also in the fifty year old bracket but as the overall winner he wasn't eligible for the age group award. It turned out to be a fairly fun ride despite my numerous strategic errors and unreliable climbing legs. So ended my year of racing. Only got six races in this year but did have four top ten finishes with only this one being a B race, that well exceeded my expectations at the start of the season.

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