Per some requests from fellow fans and racers, I’m following up the Deaflympics with a more thorough detailed story of the road race so ya’ll can see how it unfolded…
2 laps of 50km on some main highways, town roads, 2 gradual (1-2%) 2-3 mile climbs midway and one large hill at 5% for 2 miles starting about 8 miles from the finish / lap line. The roads were treacherous… Small potholes everywhere then smart car sized potholes midway! Luckily we didn’t lose any riders in those bottomless holes, they were dark and hungry! Gladly the race organizers brightened them up with some warning paint!
The race started out fast! I kind of anticipated that because of the fact that it’s such a short race. However I stayed behind some riders at the front so I can preserve my energy since it was windy! It will be hard to breakaway alone as most of the attacks put out were solo without anyone else chasing. A few attacks had some potential but we (some of us including myself) kept them from sliding away.
When we reached the bottom of the first gradual climb, Roz with Russia tried to pull away and I chased him in hopes we would form up a strong breakaway group. Once he did his pull, I pulled through for 30 seconds. I looked back, Roz had dropped the pace and let me go. I turned my head back and kept my pace up. I was alone for 1 mile until another Russian rider joined me and we worked hard together to create a strong gap. We worked well together to the base of the 2 mile hill climb, creating 30 seconds gap.
Once we made it to the top, I looked back to check and I saw that a 3 man group had broke away from the peloton to chase us down. We communicated to let them catch up since they would eventually catch us on the downhill and the flat roads paired with wind.
Now there were 5 of us ahead of the peloton. I am not sure of how big the gap was at this point, but if I had to guess, I would say around 45 seconds. I wanted to keep the pace up so no one else will catch us on the downhill portion, so I went in the front to let my heavy frame pull the group through the wind. The officials and support cars in front of us were having trouble pulling the oncoming traffic over so they would be out of the way in case anything happens.
I saw a large van pulled over to block a car and the driver in the car didn’t understand what was going on so he pulled out in front of us, blocking our path! This meant go left between the car and the van or go right between the car and the curb! I reacted and tried to signal to others behind me to watch out and dodged to the left. I looked back to check on the group. I saw that 1 went right and 2 other riders followed me without a scrape, however I saw one rider unluckily hit the trunk of the car! My heart sunk and I slowed down momentarily til I saw the official in front of me urging me on. I shook my head and prayed silently for Roz, who went down, as I resumed the pace. This group dropped down to 4 riders.
Once we reached the flats, I pulled up on my reins to save my energy and snuck back inside the group. I looked back again, and there was another group! This time 7 of them were working hard to catch us and zip by us so we couldn’t hook on. We knew that they would do that since their speed was blazing compared to ours. We all latched on and hung on. The group led us through the lap line with a few more attacks to break up the group. I remained calm while recovering from latching onto the group until I saw Dan Carruthers, with New Zealand, attack right before a highway ramp which led us to another highway. A Russian rider attacked as well after he saw that Dan had put in a good gap already. I followed through with the 2 Italians that were picking up the pace to catch them. Then the leading Italian dropped the pace dramatically which let the 2nd Italian through. He pedaled slowly when I was finally able to get through. I put the hammer down and saw that the 2nd Italian had hopped on behind me. We were creating a good gap already and catching up to the other 2 riders. I flicked my elbow indicating I wanted him to pull through to help us catch up faster. He wouldn’t come through! So looked back to see what’s up. He was cooked and I couldn’t let their group catch up again after such sweet attack… I put my head into an animal mode and silently pounded away to catch the 2 riders.
I could see the gap between us and the front closing while the group was slipping back slowly. I urged my legs to smoothly churn the pedals and I was in the zone! My legs spinning effortlessly while my breaths were flowing over my fore arms rymthically. 5 minutes later we were a 4 man team! The group had dropped back 30 seconds already… The 2nd Italian pulled through with a thumbs up as thank you. I sat behind the other 3 riders for a few pulls then I joined them to do my share of pulls to keep the gap forming.
30 seconds gap slowly turned into 45. Once the 1 minute gap was created, we motivated each other to keep building the gap up to at least 1.5 minutes then we can sit up for a bit. We slowly cranked that gap up to 1.5 minutes and then all of a sudden the 4 of us got a second wind… I think seeing the gap time continue to build both motivated us even more and played a mental trick on the group behind us. Instead of seeing the gap continue to build slowly, it went up faster once we hit the gradual climbs. We had a strong climber (Russia) , all-rounder (myself), a fast descender (New Zealand) and a steady pacer (Italy). We all helped each other pace well!
As we neared the bottom of the 2 mile hill, UK had caught up to us while we built the gap up to 3 minutes! Impressive feat, however we dropped him again on the final climb. I looked back and he was nowhere to be seen for half mile. We took turns together to keep the speed down the hill hair rising fast! No mishaps this time down… Whew! Once we arrived the flats, it was all about keeping it up till 5 km to go! The four of us let the steam up a little while friendly taking turns at the front for no more than 20 seconds.
Inside the 1km, the UK rider had popped out of nowhere and attacked with 500 meters to go! The 4 of us looked at each other then Dan surged forward! I jumped then sat back down because my legs were cooked at this point (started to twitch /cramp). I saw Dan had continued to dominate the sprint and win while I crossed the line 5 seconds behind the four others, claiming 5th.
I came to find out that Dan was demoted from Gold to 4th place because he “cut” off the Russian’s line inside the 200m. I was disappointed as well because he looked like he rode straight-ish enough not to be a hazard and not to impede the Russian’s chance. He had already dominated him! Oh well, guess that’s part of racing… all I know is I put my heart out there and raced with lots of grace with great competitors from all over the world! :-)
Race with Grace! – Klishy