Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016 Tour De Hans

2016 Tour de Hans

My first ever road cycling race and boy was I nervous.  It could have been the cold temperatures that had me shaking too.  However, I have heard of it being just shy of winter in past years, so I wasn't complaining about 13 degrees and sunny.  Regardless of how many races I do, the nerves always get the best of me.

After the initial sign up, I had taken a good look at the 2015 results and these ladies were fast, especially in my age group (40-49).  Faster than I could comprehend. This is such a competitive age group.  I thought to myself, that's okay, this is going to be the fastest I've ever gone over the 100 km distance and I will just be happy with that.  Normally, when we ride with the GCBT group, we stop for a nice relaxing lunch, some conversation; there would be no such pleasantries here-it would just be 100 km straight out.  I had never done that distance in a single stretch before.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
  
Tour de Hans
The morning was cool as I said so I decided to keep my jacket on as I hate being cold. That turned out to be a good plan as the wind continued to stay cool for the day and I remained comfortable for the entirety of the race.  It also helped that Cornel or as I occasionally call him, the "Crazy Train",  is a good deal larger than me and with him pulling, I was relatively sheltered.  The beginning of the race, had me struggling to keep up to Cornel and Karen.  I require a good warm up,but had no time prior to our start.  It started with very gentle hills, but, had me huffing and puffing a bit.  Finally, after about 5-6 km, I felt good and we started to roll.

The course was capacious, covering relatively quieter roads through the country, all with decent surfaces and moderate to little traffic. There was a tremendous amount of volunteers helping to direct the course and provide hydration.  I was riding my new Liv Avail and having only road it twice previously, we were already establishing a fairly tight bond.  She was light, compact, responsive and I felt inspired to push it down.

Cornel had been trying coach me on riding within a peloton, but, having never tried it previously, I was reluctant on trying it now.  I think he was aware of my inhibitions as he commented on safety and said that he would prefer to do the work, than ride perilously.  I know he was worried about me, but, didn't want to acknowledge it.  I was more comfortable than I use to be, having rode at the velodrome last year, but, still require some improvement when riding with a group. However, with Cornel pulling, its like hopping on the A-Train or Crazy Train as I like to call it.  He is rapid and precise.  He just flows like water.  Its so easy to draft him. I only pulled twice and the first time, as luck would have it, we were caught by the camera crew.  Beautiful!

Once we hit the 60 km mark, we came into a fairly strong head wind and Karen caught up to us at the water station, having said previously that she would grab a slower group.  She is an experienced rider and triathlete, so I think this was part of her race tactic.  We now became a party of three.  I was beginning to struggle and our pace slowed.  It was becoming tough.  Physically, mentally, but, I knew I had to maintain some consistency or all our efforts to this point would be in vain. I was thankful to have to experience riders to draw from.
AG Winners

In the end, Karen placed 2nd in her AG and came in 8th overall ladies and I placed 3rd in my AG and came in 9th place for the ladies.  What, top 10?  It was beyond my expectations.  In the end, I think some of the ladies that had raced the year prior decided to stay home and I'm okay with that. If I decide to race it again next year, I hope to be able to join one of the groups and pick up the pace a bit, but, we will leave the race planning to Cornel.

Happy Trails my Friends