Saturday afternoon I headed down to Concord to hopefully recapture some form following this most recent medical debacle. Thursday afternoon I consulted with a new gastrointestinologist and discussed my recent woes. I walked away with some sound information regarding my condition that really explained my recent struggles. The most startling revelation is that my electrolyte absorption has essentially been non existent for the duration of this flare. My recent struggles with hydration and cramping can been seen in a much different light with this fresh perspective. On top of a hardy dose of information I also walked away with a new medication that should right the ship over the next few months. Heading into the Concord Crit I would be forty-eight hours into the new medication. Given that I wasn’t expected to see any real results for the first seventy-two hours I was hoping I could at least get a mental bump knowing that I was on the path to recovery.
I showed up with nearly two hours to kill before the start. The awesome Elm City Velo Specialized tent was set up and waiting for me in the team area. After unloading the car and going through the normal number pick up and bathroom routine I settled in for a few minutes before kitting up. Shortly before I started my warm-up Darren arrived closely followed by Tim and John. Once I was on the trainer our little group swelled to include Mary and her parents. My warm-up actually felt great despite the high humidity in the air. My legs were spinning well and my heart rate seemed to be cooperating under the effort. This was going to be my longest crit ever so given my lack of riding during the week I wanted to make sure I was running hot headed to the line. I debated my fluid options for the race and decided to err of the side of hydration by bringing two bottles for the thirty plus mile effort.
On the line I chatted with a few of the guys that I had been racing with for the majority of the season. I shared a quick conversation with John echoing our earlier discussion. Given the right opportunity I was going to jump into the break and work hard if it had enough horsepower. If the right group didn’t come together I was going to sit back and maintain position for the sprint. Looking at the amount of teams that were well represented on the line I knew that it was going to be a difficult day to establish a break. There was too much interest from too many teams to let something get away that could potentially make it to the line.
The start was fast and the group settled in right away at a high pace. It was immediately clear that this was not going to be a walk in the park for anybody. There was a near constant stream of attacks off the front by many of the pretenders in the race. They would quickly get five to ten meters and then sputter our and get reabsorbed into the group. Team Zip Car and Team Gougan seemed hell bent on keeping everyone together. I wasn’t sure who Zip Car was working for but it was clear that the Gougan’s were working for young Kevin that has been lighting up the scene all summer. Kevin and I had gone one on one last year in the cat five race but it was clear that I was dealing with a different animal. This kid has developed legit top end speed over the last year and had a whole team working for him to chase down breaks. Tim took and early dig to string things out but it didn’t last long because of the high pace. Early on I took a flyer up this hill and put ten seconds into field right away. I was hoping to take some power with me and establish a break. Over the top of the hill I was well clear of the group but decided to sit up. My heart rate had shot up to 188 bpm which I knew I could not sustain for another fifty minutes alone. Back in the group I shifted my plan and decided to fight for position the remainder of the race and to follow Kevin’s wheel at all costs. The pace stayed hot for the rest of the race. John put in two beastly efforts off the front which only increased the pace further. Every time John would attack Zip Car and the Gougan’s would look at him and then look back at me. Clearly I was a marked man and was not going to be allowed to get away late in race. As the pace increased so did the contact in the field. There was a lot of leaning and a lot of pointed elbows over the last twenty minutes of the race. With two laps to go as John’s last move was absorbed and the pace hit warp speed. There was a lot of disarray in the filed and it was clear who the good bike handlers were. At the bell the pace shot up even more. I held the wheels that I wanted to the top of the climb where the pace dawdled. There was shouting and chaos as a rider slipped off the front. I lost the good wheels and had to go wide into someone’s front yard with Dave Brown to keep the pace up. A gap had unfortunately developed but we were able to get back in a line heading through the big sharp nasty corners. I was further back then I wanted to be maybe in fifteenth heading into the last corner. The lead out train stayed to the inside as the sprint opened up on the outside. Gougan launched right away and everyone else got right after him. The rider directly in front of me either took a crappy line or sat up forcing me to sprint from behind. Once I was clear I was flying and seemed to be picking off riders left and right. I shot across wheels to catch drafts and managed to catch one last rider on the line for what I thought was forth. Apparently I hadn’t noticed that there was one other rider on the extreme inside that I didn’t see and barley missed out on passing.
The end result was fifth place in the sprint which was still good enough to pick up the New Hampshire title. I was very pleased with the effort and proud of the patience that I displayed. I think with a little more work on my positioning and bike handling skills that I can be a constant threat in bunch sprints. Back at the tent the cost of the effort caught up with my still recovering body. I was dry as a bone once again indicating that I was really dehydrated. After Mary and her parents left I had a few dizzy spells and almost fell over. Darren had me sit for a few minutes before my cool down just to drink extra fluids. Once I got thirty-two ounces of fluid into the system sweat started to reappear on my arms and I felt a little better. This incident really shook me a bit and is leading me to a new position. Proceed with caution. My best estimate is that I am operating at about eighty percent of my maximum right now. Rushing through this medication adjustment is only going to delay my progress further. The Green Mountain Stage Race was a big objective for the year but I’m not willing to risk my health to have a sub par race. I am going to try to get back to semi-normal training the next ten days and will make my decision then based on how I am feeling.