2011 was the biggest year for me in terms of cycling. I ramped up my training volume to levels I didn't think I was capable of. It did happen organically, actually. I didn't wake up and say, "I'm going to double my mileage this year." I just started riding more and more, mainly because it is super fun, but also because I was getting fitness results pretty much immediately.
The season started in February with the Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL. I raced in the time trial on Saturday, which was a very short 3.1 miles, basically a really hard effort. I came in 2nd place in my category, somewhat happy with my effort. The course was a commercial park loop without many long straights so it didn't play to my strengths. Not taking anything away from Shay who won, but I feel like on an out and back straight course I could have beaten him. I just felt like I lost a lot of speed cornering and having to accelerate out of corners. Either way, a podium finish is a podium finish and I can't complain about a podium. I was supposed to do the criterium the next afternoon, but it was cold, rainy, and miserable so I skipped that.
|Swamp Classic Time Trial|
In March I raced in the Space Coast Metric Century Road Race. It was my first race in Indian River County and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The peloton kept a rather quick pace and didn't really allow any breakaways. By the 60 mile mark it was clear people weren't doing work at the front and just sitting in. Once I realized that only 10 of us were doing all the work at the front for a field of over 100, I stopped pulling through, too. Once we got to the last few miles, the speed ramped up a lot despite a nasty headwind. I marked the few guys who I felt were rather fit and did my best to stay right at the front. A bunch of guys got squirrelly due to not holding their line while jockeying for position. Going into the final corner some guys from the SCVS team gunned it and caused a separation. I realized that no one else reacted so they must be cooked from the high tempo in the headwind. At that point I launched myself and created a gap. I wasn't able to bridge to the SCVS guys who finished 1-2-3 but I left everyone else behind me and I finished a very respectable 4th out of a very large field.
|Tradition Circuit Race|
My next race was a circuit race in Port St. Lucie at Tradition. That was pretty fun 2 mile circuit with only one sharp corner. This was a really, really hard race. Basically, there was a split in the peloton on the first lap, and I picked the wrong wheel and didn't make the break. From then on I worked my ass off going anaerobic and riding at my lactate threshold for a while trying to bridge the gap. I was gaining time on the break, but no one else was doing strong pulls at the front. I was pulling for a minute or two at threshold and everyone else was pulling for 15 seconds rather casually. I guess they figured it was a lost cause. Eventually I gave up trying to close the gap and settled in. In the final sprint I found out what it is like to ask your legs for more and them to say no. I knew who in my group was the strongest and marked him. When he launched I jumped on his wheel along with one other guy. I drafted off the two of them, and was in perfect position to jump around them for the sprint, but after having done so much work at the front earlier my legs just didn't have any more juice. It was all I could do to stay on their wheel at 35mph. I finished 16th out of a field of 75. Not a podium by any means, but a respectable finish.
My next planned even was the Tour of Vero. This was going to be a century road race in Indian River and Brevard County. Unfortunately that weekend was nothing but torrential rain and wind. I love cycling, but I don't love it so much I'm going to race for 5 hours in torrential rain and wind and cold. So I rode on the indoor trainer for a few hours and took a nap instead.
|2011 Horrible Hundred|
Next up was the Horrible Hundred. I already did a recap which I'll write again, "So I won the 70 mile race. I can't really believe it, either. The short of it is that I was with the leaders of the race for the first 40 miles or so, and the peloton kept a very fast pace. At about mile 40 the people doing the 100 mile race split off from the people doing the 70 mile race. When the split occurred, there was nobody else among the leaders of the race doing the 70 besides me. So all of the sudden instead of being in a group of about 75-100 leaders, I found myself on a long solo break. I realized that there was a good chance that I could win at that point since there was likely a large gap between myself and the next rider in my group, so I gunned it hard.
I was still unsure if I was in the lead until I hit Buckhill and from the top of Buckhill you can see behind you and in front of you for a loooong way and that's when I realized that there was nobody else but me. I pushed it really hard, attacked hard on Sugarloaf mountain (I take a lot of pride in the fact that I was the first person to summit Sugarloaf out of all 2,300+ racers) and from that moment on I knew that nobody could catch me.
From there it was about 16 more miles to the finish with just enough climbing to make it non-trivial. I basically rode as hard as I could for that 16 miles to lock it in. Despite the hard effort, once I realized I was going to win, it felt like I had wings. 3 hours in the saddle at a race pace, with a pretty high heart rate and it felt like a nice Sunday cruise. Cloud 9.
I crossed the finish line as the first finisher in the 70 mile category with a time of 3:24:11. I was elated, and still am elated. I went to Chipotle afterwards and ate a big burrito, which in the absence of any kind of prize will have to serve as my prize. And it was a good darn prize."