Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oh my legs...

I did the French Broad River Road Race today out in Marshall, NC. It's a brutal course:

Going into this race my plan was to use the first climb to form a group of about 10 to 15 and stay away to the second climb, where I'd try to shell as many as possible.

Well things didn't exactly go as planned. Foothills, your course description is spot-on. A sadist could not have designed a more wicked race course than this one. The first 20 miles are brutal, and the pace stayed high. Basically, there is no way to come into the first major climb with fresh legs.

I started this climb near the back (big mistake), and had trouble finding my rhythm for the first couple of miles. I went into it way too hard, blew up pretty spectacularly and had to recover while finishing the climb. I topped the climb with a group of 4, which became about 10 by the time we hit the river. This section is fast and fun. Even working hard in a rotating paceline, we didn't make up any time on the leaders, but we were still moving at about 30 mph.

I was able to climb the second mountain a lot better based on my performance on the first one - I had a target heart rate that would keep me from blowing up, and was remembering how to really climb a mountain. I gained one place on this climb for a finish in 32nd in the Cat 4 field. So not great, but not terrible either considering I haven't ridden in the mountains since early spring.

The race pretty much went like I thought it would, I was just not in a position to do anything about it: the first climb forced a selection, about 15 to 20 riders in the lead group I would guess, which stayed together until the second climb when the race was decided.

I have to say the race was incredibly well run - plenty of corner marshalls, plenty of highly talented motos, and a fast and easy sign-in. The only sticking point: no wheel trucks. Fortunately I didn't need one, but you should have heard the groan when they announced that.

Many thanks to the town of Marshall for letting us take over for a day!

One final point.... the return trip from the finish line to Marshall is a major hoot. It's almost entirely downhill, and coming off the mountain I think I hit about 50 mph. Lots of fun, and a nice cool down from the race.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Great race, great course.

No comments: