The Spring Valley Road Race
The wife and I were in Ohio for a wedding, and the icing on the cake (pour moi) was the road race the next day. The Spring Valley RR was only 30 minutes outside of Dayton, a 9 mile loop, run 5 times (for the cat 4’s) with some small rollers, a little wind, a few turns, forecast of thunderstorms, and a ½ mile climb that could be taken in the big ring – but you had to be Mr. Big Watts (or not carrying the 10 extra pounds I am) for that.
We showed up 2 hrs early to give me plenty of time for race day reg. and bike assembly (post and wheels were off, since it rode in the trunk). Since the race organizers were still getting reg. up and running, I started in on the bike. “Crunch!” The first thing I did was strip my seat post collar threading! I had this Zen moment – no part of the bike is superflous – and then began to panic. No seatpost collar means no bike riding, and therefore NO RACING. I began introducing myself to people and pandering for spare parts. 45 min. go by before Paul (Team Dayton/Michelob Ultra), an older cat 3 dude, saves my bacon. He was the only guy with a spare seat post collar at the race, because really, who carrys an extra seat post collar? [NOTE: As of today, I now carry a spare in my tool box!] So with Paul’s collar, I register and get dressed with 25 min for a warm-up, plenty of time.
The cat 4’s rolled out a hair shy of 40 combatants as the road dried from the first t-storm cell. A rider from University of Cincinnatti was clearly itching to get off the front, and after my result at Hillsboro, I was daydreaming of winning solo out of a long break. Perhaps today would be my day? Cinci’s move went clear and teammates of the break riders started blocking. I decided (foolishly?) that this was therefore a serious enough move and bridged. The pack decided 3 was too many and soon pulled us back. A few miles later, Cinci went and took another rider with him. Shortly enough 3 teamates of those riders were on the front blocking. I decide again that this looked serious enough and bridged. Nobody came with (I sprinted hard out of the first 5 wheels, setting a new 1 sec and 5 sec power PR), and proceeded straight to the front to take a pull. We had a decent gap going into the ½ mile climb, but it looked long and steep so I decide to shift into the little ring..and droped my chain. The 15 seconds in hand were soon gone as I was stopped on the roadside and the pack flew by to the tune of my cursing. I was only angry with myself for being so stupid. I know how to shift even on a climb, and I was being stupid. I then began to chase, and caught the pack in the next 3 (4?) miles. That chase, from a dead stop on that 10% grade was ZERO fun. I knew I was burning energy for stupidity, energy I would need in a breakaway for some solo win which was getting further and further from happening.
Once I caught on I sat in for a while before moving back up into the top 15 wheels. Several riders commented on my reappearing act. It seems that after being aggressive early on the front, getting dropped with a mechanical, and catching back on, I was now a marked man. Perhaps it was my bright red aero booties that tipped them off? Or was it the frame pump I forgot to remove before the race? I guess we’ll never know.
At this point I told myself to be patient and not get all Jens! out there. Needless to say, I was in at least 1 break per lap for the rest of the race. The only move I didn’t get to was the pair that rolled off the front on the last lap. (I had recently been reeled in. Again.) Those 2 stayed away, and though I later bridged to a pair behind them on the road, I was caught on the last hill by a few other riders. 4 of us crested the final climb together, and coming out of 4th position I took 4th overall (2nd from my bunch). What can I say, I was racing in the 4’s?! I definitely made a mistake going into the sprint, though. I was boxed in against the centerline (which the guy who took 3rd completely ignored), and was forced to slow-down and then re-accelerate around the other riders on the right side. I should have been smart enough to just open it up down the right side to begin with, but I waited. Glad it’s a training race and not O’Fallon!
Speaking of “training races,” my only complaint was the $32 day-of entry. A little steep, but hey, it’s their party. Regardless, I’d be happy to pay it if my next race report is about a cat 3 race!