Monday, May 30, 2011

North Shore and Ixtapa

With the start of the racing season came a significant amount of excitement towards racing as and elite. My experiences with flats in Chile and then in Florida brought about hopes that I had used up all my bad luck and was now heading toward some great racing. This is still true in part as North Shore on the 23rd was a successful racing tune up for the main focus - Ixtapa. It was a fun swim with team mate Aaron Thomas on my heels for the swim, we worked together for the first bit of the bike. After one 5 km loop we pulled back to meet up with four other athletes with energy conservation in mind. The pack was frustrating at times to work with and the pace was relaxed, this was going to be a run race. We headed into transition and the hilly 5 km was off with a bang. This soon split up with three strong and committed runners establishing a lead. After 3km I trailed by a ways and was able to watch Jeff and Marc battle it out for first position at the turn around. Huge credit to up and comer Lehm for keeping those fast guys within reach. For myself the race was a good experience, confirming my strengths and allowing me to go through the motions heading toward the Ixtapa Pan American Cup. See results here. It's always great to race north shore and see all the familiar faces. Great event, great people, and this year no rain!
On to Ixtapa. The travel went seamlessly and our accommodations on arrival where more than easy to settle into. Pre-race training was smooth and the heat soon became manageable. The senior guys + Alex were fun to hang out with before the race, keepin it real. Walking up to the startline I was confident, relaxed and ready to go, nerves didn't come into play really. This I think was because the swim doesn't ever present a concern or too much stress for me. The choppy 1500m swim was taken out really easy by the field. I'm sure the hot conditions and a long race ahead had it's influence. I stayed mid/front pack and kept out of the trouble making sure not to burn all the tank off at once. The run to transition was a long one and I ended up exiting T1 beside Kyle Jones. The front pack had split a gap of about 150m or so on those of us who trailed behind but this was reeled in within about the first 3 kms or so. Again the pace was chill aside from a few accelerations here and there, everyone thinking about the hot 10km run ahead. We rounded the far turn around and the amoeba was strung out briefly along some gradual climbs heading back. It was clear that a few people had ideas of creating a break or two, but when the pack is composed of 30 or so riders the gap evaporates rapidly. So it was sit and wait, go with hill accels, hydrate, spin, relax, prepare for the hot run ahead. This brought me through transition and out onto the start of our second 20 km loop. The riding was fairly clean and I think I got a too comfortable, especially with the idea that Elite riders are well Elite riders with heads straight on their shoulders. This is an assumption one should never make - I learned the hard way. Note to self: stay on your toes at all times. The pack had just rounded a corner and the straight shot ahead was taken at a stupidly relaxed pace. I was chillin up front next to Bird man when he was "rubbed" out by a careless rider. This athlete showing complete disregard for the athletes around him stops pedalling and drops back after his pull to grab a drink... that just aint cool.  Like Bird there was the initial desire to hop back up and catch the pack, but a roadrashed and battered hip made it hard to walk to my bike. The disappointment hit me and the first though was "really? 3rd DNF in a row... $%&*#$@*%#@&!" The ambulance came and the wounds were sanitized... mmmmmmm pain. got a pic in the local newspaper...

So that's that I guess, never fun to not finish but going forward is all I can do. In the words of Monty Python "Tis but a fleshwound!"

north shore picture courtesy of mark bates

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