Team Enduro is essentially the first true bike race of my life. For years I did century and double-century rides – long, slow, epic, endurance journeys like the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland where my friends and I started at 4am and rode into the late evening – 18 hours of cycling punctuated by frequent breaks to stuff ourselves with pastries. And I’ve done numerous triathlon bike legs where drafting is not allowed and participants ride on long strait roads enveloped by a comforting cushion of empty space.
So it is a bit of an adjustment for me to deal with the tactical riding and frenzied, intensity of going round and round a 5k circuit desperately trying to optimize my drafting opportunities.
Keren and I had formed a two man team for the 4-hour event, and we decided to alternate one-hour each -- Keren started off on the first hour and I rode the 2nd and 4th hour. The goal is for the team to do as many 5k loops as possible in 4-hours. Keren is a grizzled cycling veteran and when he handed off the ankle-band after an hour he had powered through 7 loops and put is in middle of the pack and no doubt near the front of our age-group (if the race officials tracked age-groups). Of course I felt obligated to make some effort to maintain our strong position. I wobble out of the transition pit area and onto the course and am immediately passed by a swarm of cyclists.
I have not done in any cycling training since last September. In fact going back to my Taiwan debacle in November 2012 I have only done maybe a few hundred kilometers of cycling on my TimSmith racing bike. I am not sure if this lack of training really mattered so much during the first hour. Really at first I was just trying not to crash.
A strong wind creates a tremendous headwind on the front stretch and tailwind on the backstretch. I generally manage to hold my own on both of these long straightaway sections – it is the tight hilly turns on either end where I lose ground. I manage 6 laps in a bit under an hour before passing the ankle-band back to Keren.
I consume several gels and a banana during my one-hour break, and am feeling reasonably strong when I start my second hour, however the bursts of intense effort to accelerate and maintain draft positions start to take a toll. I find it challenging to maintain concentration and full effort - rather I find myself sitting behind other solo riders who slow down and I just coast along too dazed to pass. With a few minutes remaining until the 4-hour mark, my leg muscles are burning and I am feeling nauseous, but I am only manage to accelerate and squeeze out one more recorded lap.
We finish 133rd out of the 500 men's teams with 27 laps and an average speed of 32.44 km per hour.