A recap of our tallies so far: we each had one win, one loss and a tie. So the final “race” up the 3-mile climb to homebase was to be the deciding factor for the overall title. It’s pretty lame I guess, but it’s a great way to simulate race-pace intensity – especially at the end of a long ride.
Karim and I were both tired today. Our legs felt pretty sapped, our breathing was a bit lathargic and our morales certainly weren’t as positive as they were on the first day. We intended on getting a solid 4 hours in today, figuring we’d make the most out of the warm weather training opportunity we had, but after 1.5 hours into a headwind under cloudy, cool skies, we decided to head back after our gas station sag stop. Mentally, I felt a bit livelier, knowing we were on our way back and that translated into a bit of pep in the legs.
The trash-talking started soon after our turn toward home. We caught the draft of a slow accelerating concrete truck on the long, straight stretch of Hunter Rd. just prior to the turn up Quail Run. Karim lasted a half-mile or so, but dropped off when small chunks of concrete started kicking up off the back of the truck at around 45mph. A stayed on for another half-mile (can you say Keirin!??) and had a good 500 meters on Karim after I finally came off the back. I had a mile to go before the start of the climb, so I continued tempo to the base. I had a few fleeting thoughts of continuing on to an easy win (Karim wasn’t chasing), but decided to wait for him anyway.
Long story short (and I don’t like to gloat) – I spanked his sorry arse. I don’t think I’ve ever sprinted that hard (uphill!) before. He had his small win the day before, and today I had mine. Back at home, we boxed up our bikes and shipped them back to Indy in hopes of having them to ride again on the weekend once we get back.
Karim and I heard about this semi-legendary training race that goes off every Tuesday (apparently beginning the first week in April) at 6PM just south of Austin. Although there were no Lance sightings, there were well over 100 people that showed up for this thing. We were told that the “A” group would do 4 laps, while the slower “B” group would do one less. The group formed at the entrance of a new subdivision, and I noticed that the course leading out of this area started up a formidable 1/2-mile climb right off the bat. The backside of the 9-mile loop was pretty much uphill in one way or another.
I jumped toward the front right away and Karim got stuck in the middle, so he had some work to do when the two groups naturally formed themselves. The “race” was fast throughout, as many of these Texas boys have been training throughout the winter here. I was sitting comfortably near the front, taking my share of pulls here and there for most of the race – however, on the third lap going up the big climb I was getting pretty fatigued and found myself the last one up the hill. Karim came by me and said some sort of encouraging words as he went over the top. I recovered and made my way back up through the pack on the generally downhill 2nd half of the course.
It turns out that we were only doing 3 laps instead of 4 — which was a good thing. I’m not sure how well I would have fared up that climb one more time around. I felt very strong, especially considering we had 4 solid days of long rides (and 2 hours this morning), but my legs were starting to fill up with some of that lactic crap.
I flew by Karim a few miles from the finish and gave him another “plip, plip” as I went by – hoping he would hop on my wheel. As the set up to the sprint progressed, I ended up behind him for a bit – I thought I’d ride his wheel on in to a good spot. However a split formed and I jumped across to it. I figured there was less than a mile left so I was pretty stoked to make it across, but the group ended up coming back together anyhow. We rounded the last turn and the housing addition was in sight. I jumped on the left from about 10th spot. Then the head wind hit me hard in the face and I snapped back to reality (and back in the pack – what was I thinking?) At about that same point, Karim jumped hard and was able to hold off these Texas boys and beat them at their own game!
I was happy with my perceived effort throughout the length of this semi-tough course, and Karim’s morale was no-doubt boosted from showing his decent sprinting form a week and a half before our first official race. All in all, a fruitful day of training and racing. One more day of riding here in Texas tomorrow and we’ll be headed home.
We’re on our way to breakfast at the restaurant – it’s 10:22AM and we’ve already gotten our first ride of the day out of the way! We were up at 6:30AM to eat a bit of pre-ride meal and with the time change, it was still completely dark outside. By the time we got dressed and out on the road, the sun was just coming up. The air was a bit cool and the new knee-warmers and vests came in pretty handy. I wasn’t sure if I’d need the cool weather clothes that I brought, but I’m glad I did.
We decided to take it easy this morning since we’re heading up to Austin tonight for a [supposedly] big training race that’s been going on for years. Lance has been rumored to show up now and then, but we’re definitely not holding our collective breaths – and that’s most certainly not the reason we’re going. The training race – especially if it’s as large as slated – will be a great test on the ol’ legs to see if we’re where we need to be before our first real race of the season (a week-and-a-half from now.) While we’ve had stretches of going pretty hard during our training rides, it’s hard to get that same kind of race-pace intensity by ourselves.
Needless to say, we called a neutral finish to this morning’s ride and pedaled relatively easy on up the last 3 miles back home. It works out best this way anyhow. The score is one win, one loss, and one tie a piece. We’ll let the finale of the Quail Run Race tomorrow determine who is the king of the mountain. Anyone wanna’ place bets?