Morgantown Road Race

The Morgantown Road Race features an awesome course, a 44 mile single loop with a flat to rolling first 24 or so miles. The next 20 miles more than make up for that though, they’re composed entirely of going up and down three climbs. The course has some awesome switchback descents that are a ton of fun. Unfortunately the climbs up to those descents were less fun, more on that in a minute. Strava link:

I headed out to the race bright and early with Zac C. of Snakebite, still undecided on my plan. We were both doing the 3/4 race, and I was vacillating between saving as much energy as possible, trying to hit the first climb that forms the selection completely fresh and near the front, or trying to get in an early break and get a 45+ second head start on the climb. Either way I didn’t expect to be particularly competitive, but given the course I was pretty sure to get a good day of training in either way. Upon arrival we did the usual, registration, facilities, get dressed (only the 2nd time of year I got to wear short sleeves so far!). Then we rolled out to try to track down the finish. And turned around because we thought it was on a different road. Then turned around and tried a 3rd road, where it also wasn’t. We’re now out of time and go line up, still without any idea where the finish is. I make a note to take a closer look at the course map next race (not for the last time). Some helpful guys from other teams are telling their teammates where the finish is and answer a couple questions we have, official gives his talk, says there are some big flags a mile? kilometer? out from the finish and another set 200m out. Good enough.

Race rolls out down the hill from the church where registration was held, neutral through town, then starts. Very shortly after the neutral ends a guy who, uh, looks even less like a climber than I do attacks, rest of the field rolls along conversationally. Couple more guys roll off and are brought back, pace is still mostly easy, seems like everyone’s waiting for the first real hill to begin racing. On the false flat that starts at mile 11 or so one guy rolls off the front, holds a small gap, and the field is still kind of cruising along not looking real interested in riding hard yet. A gap opens up in front of me and I impulsively bridge. Guess I finally decided on my race plan. The 2 of us work for a couple miles, and near the top of the hill another 2 guys come across, right after that we catch the guy who went off solo early. I figure 5 is good, not very threatening, and maybe we’ll get some slack and I can get over the top of the first climb with the leaders!

A couple miles later things must have heated up behind us, a bunch more guys come across, and shortly we have 10 or 12 guys. Figuring the move was going to promptly self destruct I drifted to the back to recover, only to have a smooth rotation form up to my surprise. The group behind is, apparently in the mood to race now though because the gap is still falling, one guy pulls through way too hard and blows the paceline apart, yelling occurs, chaos, we get brought back. About 3 miles before the selection climb. Oops, guess I played that wrong. I slotted in near the front hoping to stay close enough to be in contention, but about as soon as it kicked up to the 10-13% section I started sliding back. End of the real race for me, but I had a lot of fun hanging it out a little on that descent. a chase group formed, we got about within sight of the group in front of us, then hit the next climb. I got dropped again, chased back into the group on the descent, found out there was one more climb to go, which I had somehow missed. I make a note to take a closer look at the course map next time (not for the last time). Rolled in solo for 36th out of 50ish, improvement over last year! And amazingly strava says  I was only 5 or so minutes behind the guy who won, so maybe some year I’ll make it over the climbs close enough to actually chase onto the lead group. Good goal for the future I suppose.


~ by bneidinger on April 8, 2013.

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