Justin, Ben, and I opened the road season at the NWA Spring Classic RR. After staying with Steve Auchterlonie and other Bike Shack Alums on Saturday, we got up early and rolled to the race sunday morning.
In past years, this race was cold with strong winds from the north. This year was the opposite, with strong south winds and temps in the mid to upper 80s. After racing cross well into January, I've felt a little behind the curve with regards to base milage. With such a mild winter, it sounded like OK, AR, and TX racers were coming into the season with some very good base fitness. 50 pretty strong dudes started the race, so I knew it would be an interesting day.
Immediately, Justin M. from the Dogfish team was off the front solo. I tried to stay tucked out of the wind for the first lap, while Justin covered a bunch of moves. At the end of the lap, I tried to get into a couple of chase moves. Things started to get really animated in the second lap and after about a half dozen failed chase moves, the pack started to break up a bit. I figured at some point there would be a split in the field, so I tried to stay up front and get in the front half. Unfortunately, nothing stuck until another Dogfish rider went solo up the road. After a long bit of hesitation, about 8 guys went up the road, but most of the strong guys missed the move.
About halfway through the last lap I was starting to feel pretty bad in the heat. I didn't want to just sit in the group, but also realized I didn't have much left if I was able to get into a chase group. At just about that point, Austin Vinton and Will Gault got a gap up a little climb, so I bridged to them knowing they could actually make it to chase group #1 if that bunch started messing around. Unfortunatly, as soon as I made it to them, Will said he wasn't going to pull because he had teammates up the road. So Austin and I traded pulls. I was not going good, but then we picked up Kris French who was out in no-mans land. I'm not sure what happened to him, but I guess he got dropped out of the group up the road. Anyway, this helped our rotation. However, we then hit a climb and I started to cramp badly, stayed on and started to recover a bit on the descent. We turned into the wind and the paced slowed, so I was starting to feel a little better, but I knew I wouldn't make it over the wall with this group, so i took a few more meager pulls up to the climb, then had to little ring it over. By the top, I was fully locked up and had to coast and breath to finally be able to pedal again. So I got swept up by the pack and tailgunned to the finish. Ouch.
Afterwards, we went to the Flying Burrito, then picked up my MTB in Springfield. Justin and I also enlightened Ben about all the wonderful fishing techniques in the midwest, like noodling and hunting for spoonbills.