This week I agreed to pick up Justyn Pak at the Kissena Velodrome at four thirty in the morning since he wanted to race. The deal then was for me to drop him off at his church which is on my way home. This did not change my morning schedule that much, as the Velodrome is on my way. I ended up missing the exit from the LIE to the BQE, but a quick turnaround and three minutes later we were back on track.
A few minutes past five we pulled into a parking spot a few cars up from the 3rd street entrance to the park were registration and the start finish is located. By the time we had our numbers pinned up, and tire pressures all dialed in, it was time to get on the starting line. Start time is now set at six. We got some light rain on the way to the venue, and it was a bit cooler then the low mid fifties indicated. Therefore I opted for a my mesh Pearl Izumi under layer, bib shorts with knee warmers, my short wool socks, my summer head cover, and my padding free full finger gloves. I am still using Rob’s borrowed long sleeve jersey, as I anxiously await my team uniform order to be delivered.
The other week Patrick was kind enough to grab my new Orange Kask helmet from Read Beard Bikes (our sponsor bike shop) but we have not had a chance to meet up. Since he was going to be racing this morning, he brought it with him and I got to wear the new orange helmet for the first time. The helmet fit perfectly with no strap adjustment out of the box. I started the race with my dark glasses in anticipation of sunrise.
The race was packed. Our category 3/4 field was closed out with one hundred and ten competitors. Our team had a strong presence. Coming off last week, I was feeling quite good, and I am also starting to gain back my mental racing fitness, if that’s what it is called?
The race started out fast. I was expecting that. Less then five minutes in I realized that wearing my knee warmers was a mistake. I was building up too much heat. I spent the first two laps working to stay in the top third, and trying to be more efficient in my pedaling and braking. The first two times up the hill, I was feeling pretty good. In the previous races, the first time on the hill I was hurting to the point that I questioned if I would be able to finish the race. Today I had no doubts that this was going to be a good day unless any unforeseeable incidents occurred.
Lesson number one. Murphy is always listening to your thoughts. On the third lap, past the temple, but before the hill we traverse a section of rough pavement. In a race you can not swerve much to avoid these things. If you do you will cause a pile up of riders. I tend to just plough through and be slightly off saddle to absorb the bumps with my legs in order to take some of the punishment off the bike and my sit bones.
While parked on the wheel of a Mineola rider, I think it might have been Eamonn, I fell into a large hole that really bumped me hard. I did a quick check to ensure I had not flatted from that crater. Our group was rapidly approaching the climb, so in preparation I went to shift gears but with great anguish, I found out that my Dura-Ace 9070 11 Speed Di2 setup was no longer shifting. The front and rear derailleur failed to respond to my input. I was now stuck in a 52-13 gear combo.
With the terrain starting to pitch upwards, I knew I was now doomed if I could not get out of that gear I was in. Try as I might I could not get the system to respond. I was now faced with the reality that three laps in, my race was over. I left word to my teammates that I had a mechanical issue and I was had to pull out. I worked my way up the hill by grinding in the big gear and all I could do was watch the pack roll off with out me.
Just before the crest, the follow motorcycle referee came up behind me, so I signaled him that I was out, and he nodded and passed me. I rolled by the camera at the finish line, and singled the officials that I was out.
I stuck around and spectated the race. I got to see a series of chemical toilette trucks on course, and also a fire truck driving in reverse direction on the course. I watched the category five finish, and then my race finish. I had a chat with my teammates, and other friends. I had to get going due to family obligations for lunch, so I grabbed Justyn in order to make our exit.
After getting home from my family obligation, I put the race bike in the repair stand, and decided to diagnose the problem. It turns out that the plugs in both shifters had loosened up. There is no way to fix this while racing, since the fix requires pulling back the hood covers and using the seating tool to reengage the wires. I got the system going again by reseating the plugs. This is something that happened last year, luckily after a race, and I had it looked at and it was fixed.
Following the past few races I decided I am not happy with how my levers are setup. They need to move back towards me and come up a bit since they are too far forward and downward. This should then increase the slack in the Di2 electric cables which should help avoid this issue going forward. In the process I am going to replace my aging and worn out bar tape.
After working on the road bike, I prepared my track bike for racing. I cleaned her up, and installed my racing gearing a 91.8 gear inch setup from a 51tx15t combination. Wednesday I start my Wednesday Twilight Series at the Kissena Velodrome. It is time for two races a week. I am either going to be miserable all summer, or in kick ass shape. Time will tell…