Race report by Ben King
It has been a dry spring in the Ohio river valley. The weather forecast for Saturday’s race showed a 50 to 60 percent chance of rain throughout the day. In retrospect it seems that a much-needed day of rain showers was inevitable. Reading a road race is a bit like guessing the weather. You know a few things ahead of time: What some of the riders’ strengths are, and what the teams in the race will try to do. But, when everyone lines up at the start and the gun goes off, much like a cold front descending into the valley, there is always an element of uncertainty. And, hindsight is 20/20
I arrived after the finish of the cat 5 race. The rain was already falling and there had been a crash on the last lap. *insert joke about crashes in cat 5 races* Ryson and Josh stayed safe, finishing 2nd and 7th respectively. Josh got held up slightly in the crash and Ryson is stuck on 2nd place, having narrowly missed out on 1st multiple times this season. The finishing segment of the course took a sharp left hand turn, downhill, little chicane, then slight uphill to the finish. There was a strong headwind on the downhill before the chicane which slowed everybody down, making it much less technical than it could have been.
Cat 3 Race
Jason and I were the squad for the 3s. We got our teamwork going in the pre-race airing up my front wheel. Someone else put a tube in it with a valve stem that is almost too short. It works, but you need someone else to hold the pump head on it while you air it up.
Rain continued intermittently as the race began. Many cat 3 races in my experience have had a breakaway go on to win the day. So in the latter half of the race, I was pretty active at the front. A couple times I got into a small group with a gap on the field, but we didn’t commit, and the move didn’t stick. Then with 3 to go, I had resigned to a bunch finish when a group of 6 almost casually rode off the front. I saw that they weren’t working very well together and decided not to bridge. But I should have paid more attention to what was going on in the bunch. The two biggest teams in the race, Papa Johns and Clarksville Schwinn, weren’t chasing (they both had a man in the break) and neither was anyone else. I realized that they were away as we approached the left-hander into the finishing stretch (coming up on 2 laps to go). However, it all became a moot point seconds later as I felt my rear tire go flat!
It must have picked up a small fragment somewhere on the course, just enough to puncture the tube. I pulled off and spectated for the finish. Jason finished in the bunch for 15th.
Ryson and Josh doubled up for the cat 4/5 race, which finished in a bunch sprint. I dodged raindrops and watched Ryson finish in the bunch for 16th. Josh fell just off the back during a fast final lap and got pipped at the line for 28th. We then drove to check out a German place in Radcliffe that Josh recommended. Finding it closed, we settled for Greek food instead and took shelter as the rain kept pouring. I was doing the 1/2/3 race in the afternoon so I returned to the course and took a surprisingly good hour-long nap in the car to the sound of raindrops overhead.
We had an hour of no rain leading up to the race start and the course was even starting to dry in spots. Early in the race, Rolf Eisinger, our city of Louisville bike and pedestrian coordinator, escaped, and he had strong teammates in the bunch who dissuaded the chase effort. Rolf has a reputation as being undraftable. That is, when you’re riding behind him, he doesn’t break the wind for you very much. I have experienced this firsthand and admittedly, it was on my mind when I thought of attacking the group to go join him up the road.
So, I settled into the group, occasionally participating in a half-hearted chase. The rain came back in fits and starts, which was the most interesting thing going on for much of the race. I wish I had tried a big attack at some point, just to break up the monotony (you always wish you had attacked more after the fact, unless you won). Rain escalated as the race wore on and with 2 laps to go, my socks had graduated from ‘damp’ to ‘completely soaked.’ The pace sped up, and my position going into the finishing stretch was ok but not great. I picked up one spot, got held up, then lost two spots on the downhill into the chicane. I sprinted for the line and came out 7th, last spot in the money!
The rain kept falling as I picked up my winnings and drove home. Until next time…