Joe Martin Road Race #1 2012
110 miles! The distance seemed almost insurmountable. But Bill and I saddled up, hoping to move him up in GC. The course was a giant loop to the south of Fayetteville, with a headwind going out, and a stiff tailwind going in.
The first 50 miles went by really fast, and I was suprised when I looked a my computer to see that we were getting close to halfway done. This sounds pretty silly, as 50 miles is a pretty good ride in itself! The second half would be much harder though. As soon as we hit the southern-most part of the course, we had a right-left crosswind, and a full peloton ready to make selections. The race split up a lot, and people that couldn’t find a draft were shelled off the back. By design, both Bill and I were near the front and were more or less sheltered through this part.
70 miles in, we were about to hit the big 9 mile climb. I knew there was a feed zone at the top so I strategically drank almost all of my water by the base of the climb. As we started to climb, I moved up to near the front with Bill, and focused on conserving energy, careful to not push over my limit. On part of the hill, I felt we started to go a bit too hard, so I SAG climbed, meaning I slowly drifted back through the pack, keeping my power numbers lower than everyone else. This helped a bunch, and as soon as I felt good again, I moved back up to the front.
Then I heard THE SOUND! Pssssssssssh. I looked around, hoping someone else’s tire was going flat, but it was not to be. My rear tire was blown. I raised my right hand, signaling the rear flat, and drifted to the back of the pack. Where was the wheel truck??!!! It was not behind us! All I could do was keeping pedaling up the climb with a completely flat rear wheel. This is another great thing about tubulars: you can in a pinch ride them flat. Luckily there was a commisar vehicle behind us, and they yelled at me that the wheel truck was on its way. After about 3 minutes of riding the rim, the wheel truck was behind me. I stopped and quickly got the back wheel off. I looked behind, expecting to see the guys running up with a fresh wheel, but they were still sitting in the cab! After trying to give me a Campy wheel, then a wheel with no skewer, we finally got a wheel that would work. After fumbling with the skewer, I had been standing for 2 minutes getting the wheel change. Finally I was back on the road, but with almost no chance of catching back on.
I can’t really complain too much because all these guys are volunteers, but it is a source of frustration. And poor wheel changes have happened to me twice this year! I think that it would be great if the promoters would give the wheel truck volunteers a bit more instruction than “give people wheels.” I’m torn though, because the JMSR people are really putting on a great race! Oh well, I’ll quit complaining now.
I got the gap to about 30 seconds by the top of the climb, but then I knew that there was no hope. The next 30 miles were downhill and into a tailwind, and the peloton would be going much faster than me. I went as hard as I could sustain by myself, and it helped that I caught a group of about 6 riders that got dropped. By the finish, the main pack had put 12 minutes into me, and I finished in about 4hrs, 45 minutes. Suprisingly, I still moved up 18 spots to 60th on GC!
Bill faired better, staying in the main peloton to finish 4 minutes down on the winner. We thought he would move up on GC, but actually moved down one spot to 31st. In Saturday’s 90 miles road race, we will try to be more aggressive and see what happens! Stay tuned!