The Cat 5’s Eye View – Fort Ritchie and Jeff Cup

This will be one of the last installments of the Cat 5’s Eye View from Jason Ray. He’s put in for his 4 upgrade: congrats Jason!

2011 Fort Ritchie Crit – Cat 5 (9:30am race)
finally good weather for a race weekend!  the fort ritchie crit held 2 cat5 races, which was especially nice for those wanting to upgrade to cat4 quickly.  i, fortunately, did not need both races so i registered for the later race to save a few more hours of sleep the night before.  as soon as i arrived i met up with Alistair to talk about what happened in the earlier race that he was in earlier.  it was the standard ‘hit the minor incline’ and ‘watch yourself in the corners’ due to the change between asphalt and cement; there was head-wind on the back straight as well.  the race started quickly, but slowed in certain sections per the usual.  the back was fast and positioning into the final turn before the straight was vital (as usual).  a few flyers went out front, but they were all caught.  with five laps to go there was a front group of three or four was forming, but the peloton caught back up to them with two laps to-go.  on the front straight, as the bell rang for the last lap, i made my way toward the front and sat about five or six wheels back from the leader.  i saw the syn-fit guys on the front (Matt leading Jason) and wanted to stay close.  after the left-hand turn onto the back i was expecting a swarm to come around, but it came earlier than i expected and on the outside; i sprinted briefly to stay with the leaders.  i was positioned on the inside of the final turn (like i wanted to before in previous races), but this ended up being the place i didn’t want to be.  i had to slow significantly (hurting my exit speed) to make the tighter turn due to the lines of the other riders, despite the wide exit.  i saw the outside riders pass on my left, but i was able to sprint to the finish and make up about three spots on the straight to claim the 13th spot.  not a bad race or finish, but i should’ve paid more attention to the turns and started to pick up the pace a little earlier.  i’m pleased with this race, but i’m getting more of a feel of where i need to be, and when i need to be there…not to mention that i still had a fair amount of fuel in the tank as i crossed over the finish line, which isn’t entirely bad since the next day would be the Jeff Cup Road Race.

2011 Jefferson Cup Road Race – Cat 5 (12:20pm)
today was mother’s day so naturally i spent the day with my mom as she came to support me at my race near Charlottesville.  i was so thankful that the race was around noon since the distance for me was about a 2-hour drive away.  we had a nice drive down and i arrived at registration with plenty of time to relax and warm-up before the race.  it rained earlier in the day on the way, but the weather seemed like it was going to be optimum for racing…and it was!  i packed some gel and a shot blok pack, along with a heed mixture for the race.  i knew eating and drinking would be vital since these 30-miles would be at race-pace.
we started a little late, but made our way to the rolling start after the neutral ride to the start/finish line.  the neutral start leading up to the start finish gave me a little inclination of the pace since it was relatively quick.  once the race started it just felt like a quick group ride, with parts of the race being almost unbearably slow (at least it felt that way).  my nemesis was the hill after the first turn since that is where i lost the group last year as they became smaller each time i looked up.  this year was significantly different.  the hill didn’t seem as daunting as last year and i found myself passing people without trying that hard, so i eased up a bit to save my energy.  we  hit the top and over onto the decent.  holy crap this was fast.  i didn’t dare look down at my computer to see the speed, but found out that we typically hit 45-46 mph on the decent.  on the first lap i saw a rider in a red jersey go off the front.  i checked to see how much of a gap he would make.  he stayed out in-front for a while and the peloton caught him near the final turn of the lap…  i wasn’t sure if another red-jersey’d rider replaced him, but if this guy held it for that long he knows how to make it hurt.
on the second lap a flyer went off the front on the start/finish incline section.  approaching the bigger hill, i wanted to see how much of a gap i could create from the rest of the group.  i cranked the pedals and found myself passing the peloton catching the flyer at the top of the hill with another rider behind me.  we had about a 10-15 second gap and i ran out of juice, but just in-time for the decent…unfortunately i was alone.  i underestimated not having a windshield and i found out that my speeds were not near the 45-46mph as they were before, but closer to 38-39mph.  i was swallowed up by the peloton about a mile or two later.  i caught my breath and tucked into the peloton for a while.  i was expecting an attack on the hill on the final lap, but i only saw a single rider off the front.  he was caught about the same time i was in the previous lap.  the speeds grew quicker in certain sections during this lap, you could tell the fight for positioning was occurring.  the downhill switch backs were tight and some elbows went flying. the final turn was faster and less clumped-up than on the previous laps, but i found myself too far back for my liking.  i made it hurt and put myself into the wind to try and gain some positions before the sprint.  it was an uphill false flat to the finish and, with the headwind, it was that much more difficult to fight for position.  i picked the point at which i was to turn it on before the sprint, but it was too late.  the leaders went earlier than i thought and i sprinted as soon, and as much, as i was able.  i held the 16th spot from a couple riders and finished with a final time of 1h12minXXsec (4.15sec off the leaders).  we averaged approximately 24.0 minutes a lap and 24.3mph for the entire race.  I wasn’t very happy with the result initially, but i was pleased to find out that this final time was over ten minutes faster than last year’s cat5 race.

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