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Report2002-06-15

Murad Memorial

Date: 2002-06-15
By: Joe K

I've got a feeling they're not going to post results anytime soon/at all and they didn't have them up anytime soon after the race ended, so here's my best guess:

  • Sat 06/15---Murad Memorial Road Race
    • 23 Joe Kopena Cat 5, 50 starters)

Being sick all through May and not riding that whole month really hurt me. I guess my raw strength deteriorated only a little, but my cadence is way down from my norm and I just don't have the energy back yet to get it up there. That's about how I expected to finish from riding around the past couple weeks.

Traveling:

There's a number of fellow student-type people here at work who mountain bike semi-seriously (haven't met a racer yet), but no one's into road riding. I did see some adult-types at work who ride regularly, but they didn't have that "Go fast!" attitude for which I was looking. Anyway, one of the mountain bikers told me on Friday that there was this race right nearby so we met up Saturday morning and rode out there. I had known about the race, I just didn't realize it was within riding distance. I'll have to pay more attention next time. Riding out to meet the guy I totally failed to make any u-vees, but I did manage to uphold tradition by arriving nine minutes late.

Riding

On the plus side for the day, one of the reasons I went to the race was to get in touch with riders around here and that worked out well. We hung out most of the day with a couple guys from some local clubs and they told me about some local group rides, now I just have to figure out if they're close enough for me to bike there. I'm out in a pretty suburban area and things can get fairly far apart pretty quickly. I'd talked to some guys before about rides in the area and they'd pretty much convinced me there's nothing in the area except stuff coming out of DC (which is far enough away to be a good ride, but too far away for me to go there and meet up with people for a hard ride and then still have to ride home---somewhere between 25 and 30 miles one way). Now I'm a little more hopeful, I just have to pore over my rapidly growing collection of Maryland maps... Yeah, I've basically bought a map everytime I've gotten lost, so I've got a lot of maps now. I haven't even gotten lost on my bike yet, that's all been "exploratory wandering," but I do seem to get lost whenever I go walking around. Other student people come to me now because I've always got a map on me. Even when I just go to the bathroom; you never know where you're going to find yourself...

Course

I assume the course is traditional for this race, and it's a pretty good one. The area it's in is basically never flat, it's all slight changes in elevation and small rolling hills. The roads are also well maintained. I guess that's surprising because it's country out there, with farms and stuff, but the county is loaded for money so I guess it's not so suprising. However, there are places on course where things get a little narrow. Sometimes a lot narrow. There's no point on course where you can see more than one or two hundred feet ahead, and there's stretches under tight tree canopies & side hedges so it gets pretty claustrophobic. There was a lot of heated words in all the races (spilling over onto the district20 mailing list a little too) about people breaking the yellow line rule, in part because it was so narrow. There's a lot of 90 degree corners (around 6), but at least in my race everybody played it pretty safe and took it kind of easy through them. Course marshalling was excellent, problem turns had people at them and were closed off as we came by. Similarly, vehicle support was good too. Each race had 1 lead car to shut the road down, a leading official's moto, a trailing official's moto, and at least 1 wheel/sag/trailing van or pickup.

Racing

I've never seen so many people so dedicated to brake checks. Way too often I was way too close to having to do a trackstand because the guys up front slowed down all of a sudden. Start stop start stop start stop, it was terrible. The best pattern I could come up with is that we were slowing down to admire the cows.

With is being so narrow, I had a hard time trying to snuggle myself into the group. I guess I still tend to ride the yellow line too much and should work more on tucking into the middle. I put a little conscious effort into it on Saturday, but pockets kept opening up around me. Probably need to also move in a couple more inches on the guy in front of me.

I hung on to the lead group until there were about 4 miles to go (out of 30), then I just feel apart. I'd been struggling for a while at that point but kept charging back up. Afterwards the tail official & wheel van guy both came by to say how impressed they were at how many times they thought I was done for only to watch me charge back up when I realized the moto was about to pass me. Of course, you can only keep that up for so long and at some point I just couldn't do it again and limped in to the finish.

Thoughts

Preregister! I barely made it into the race at the last minute. When I showed up a couple hours before my race to register I found out it was already full and got placed seventh on the wait list. Fortunately I did end up getting a spot, but it did mean I spent my whole warm up time waiting by the registration desk so nobody else got my spot.

While I was waiting there was another guy waiting for a spot that kept muttering and talking to himself. I'll give you three guesses which guy I worked very hard to not line up next to. One too many powerbars in that guy...

It would have been good to place higher but I was sort of pleased that I did hang on for most of the race pretty much on pure will power. Hopefully I can get back some sort of form & energy soon. I'm pretty doubtful on trying to get back to Philadelphia for Cheltenham. I don't think I'll be back to good enough shape by then to have anything approximating a pleasant experience. I am still planning on the endurance race at Fair Hill in July. On the one hand, that's just mountain biking---you don't have to be in any kind of shape except round for that (ask Lou!). On the other hand, if there are no closeby group rides, it'll be easier for me to train solo for that kind of race than it would be for a normal road race.

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