Last year, a week after I bought my first tri bike, I competed in a local 21 mile bike race called the Tour de LADR. This event isn't sanctioned by any governing bodies, so you can use a tri bike as long as you are willing to listen to the roadies tell you every 5 seconds to not use your aerobars.
So last year, having just begun my cycling career, I started in the back so I wouldn't slow anybody down. The next thing I know, I'm surrounded by moms on mountain bikes with their 6 year olds in training wheels. The gun went off and I had no chance of catching up to the peloton. I don't think I even knew what a peloton was at the time or how to draft in it without crashing if I had made it that far. But I did alright, finishing in 56 or 58 minutes, I can't really remember.
Fast forward to this year, and now I am determined to win the race. So Saturday I left my house and decided to ride to the race for a little 10 mile warm up ride. I paid my money, stripped the commuter lights off of my bike and got ready to roll. THIS year I lined up on the front line. The course is described as "mostly flat" but the only part of it that is not completely flat is where the road banks just a slight bit going around a shallow turn. Other than that it is flatter than a pancake, so I knew it would take a good pace to break up the group. Unfortunately, my training partner, Trifossil, decided the day before that he wasn't going to do the race and I was left without anybody to team up with.
The course is an out and back and on the way out I ended up pulling way more than I needed to. I was trying to pull hard enough to break the pack apart and prevent a group sprint at the end, but only a couple of other people had the same idea. Everyone else apparently wanted the group sprint. So after I would pull, there would be another hard pull or two then the next person would sit back and let the group catch back up. About mile 5 I had already had enough of this and tried to grab a couple of guys to break off. I kicked it up to about 29 and was able to get close enough to the cop car to catch a draft, but the cop realized what i was doing and put a gap on me so I lost my draft, then I turned around and saw only one person had gone with me so I sat up and let the group suck us back in. I continued taking my pulls like I had before, but I let off a little to save my legs for the back half.
As we neared the turnaround, another triathlete, Gus, told me to take off from the turnaround and 5 other guys were going to follow me, so at the turn around I took off! But again, only one guy caught my wheel so we sat up and let the group suck us in.
With 6 miles to go, the guy that was pulling at the time pulled off like normal. There were 3 kids directly in line behind him that had not taken a pull yet and when all of a sudden the lead man pulled off, leaving them at the front, they panicked. They swerved out of the pace line and almost caused a pile up. This was all Gus and I needed to make a break. We took off and before the group realized we had left, we had a 200 yard gap. Gus and I worked pretty well together but the head wind started to wear on us and about 2.5 miles out they were starting to close in on us. Then as Gus is pulling he looked back and said "they've caught us" and sat up. Turns out the group hadn't caught us, it was just one man, A guy from Denmark that was so big, when Gus looked back he thought it was the whole peloton. So now with Gus dropping off, instead of a now three man break, I am now in a two man break with the Great Dane. However he only held on for about a mile and I was left solo.
At this point, I didn't even want to look back to see how close the group was. I knew I was close to the finish line and I was going for it! At this point my lungs were burning and my legs were dead but I was going to win the ra- "oh *#%, they caught me!"
I almost made it, I had less than 3/4 of a mile to go before they got to me. But then they wouldn't pass me, they sat on my wheel and let my legs burn. Then when they jumped out to the sprint all I could do was spin in for 10th overall in 50:55.
I almost had it! I held a 25.2 mph average for the race. Not bad, but next year, I just need to be strong enough to time trial the whole thing for the win!