Bow Road Race, 3 August 2008

Yesterday was the Bow Road Race, also known as the Central NH Road Race. I was wanting to get out and do another race again and wasn't really feeling in the mood to go to Wells Ave (… again) and so tried to get together some other people from the Quad team to go up and do it. The email met with moderate success and we ended up with a total of five Cat 5s, but they split the field by age group and so there were 3 in the 35+ Cat 5 field and then only myself and another guy in the Cat 5 under 35 field.

I got up early early early in the morning and got ready to head down to meet my ride. I grabbed a light and threw it on my bike as it was still not quite light, but once I was out the door, it actually seemed like it would have been light enough without. There was a light mist in the air and so I was wondering how much this was going to parallel the other non-Wells races I've done this year where it either rained right before or during the race. But we got on the road and as we made our way up I93, the sun started to come out and it looked like we might just have a nice day for a bike race.

We got to the starting point, registered and got ready to go. Managed to get in an almost decent warmup even, although I avoided attacking too much of the climbing while warming up just to sort of save my energy. I also was trying to work out some sort of muscle knot that I had gotten in my thigh on the drive up. We went to the start line and I positioned myself near the front with Matthew right with me. This was when we learned that the start was neutral for the first mile up the hill. Figured okay and then we were on our way. Once the pace car saw us and actually started, it kept a slow and unsteady pace up the hill. He'd go, then he'd slow down, causing the same sort of things through the entire field. Ugh.

Finally, we hit the top of the first hill and the pace car sped up and the field began to move. I kept with, trying not to push too hard but also doing what I could to stay with the group. And I succeeded for a little bit, but after one of the hills, I dropped off the back of the front end. I was determined not to let that discourage me, though, and so continued on. Not long after, I caught up with a few more stragglers and attempted to organize the group to work together. This was almost successful, but not quite. We'd work together and then hit a downhill and one of the guys would go bombing down the hill, forcing everyone to scramble to keep up. So when we were halfway around the second lap, the entire thing started to fall apart with pretty consistent attacking. I just didn't have it in my legs to keep up with that through the hills and fell back.

The rest of the race was pretty much a time trial effort. I had a couple of brief periods of working with another person, and it really helped a lot when Tyler (who was in the 35+ race) caught me right before the KOM hill and gave me some encouraging words, helping me to at least not feel that I was entirely in No Man's Land and thus a much-needed-by-then boost of confidence.

I ended up finishing about 18 minutes behind the leader, averaging 17.6 and about 4 minutes ahead of Matthew. Overall, a third of the field had dropped out (13 of the 39). So while the results weren't what I had gone in wanting to get, I still feel somewhat successful. And I didn't have the problem of over-wariness when descending in a group like I did at Lake Auburn earlier in the season. But if I'm going to do Bow (or races like it) next year, I definitely need to spend more time out climbing longer and steeper hills. The GPS said like 3500 feet of climbing over the 32-ish miles for the course. So ~ 150% of the climbing of the usual Quad ride in about 50% of the distance. It was definitely enough climbing that I felt it for a good chunk of the day. The course, though, was great even with that. Very very well marked with signage before every turn, a marshall at every turn stopping traffic and ensuring you went the right way and nice roads. So even with the amount of climbing and pain involved, I do think I'll look at doing it again next year.

And I think I'm likely to do something next weekend, probably Wells Ave unless something better shows up that I'm not seeing right now. And in all likelihood, there's I think only one or so non-Wells races with a cat 5 field left this season (other than Jamestown).