70-mile Road Race
We left Jacksonville at 6am sharp to head to Ft. Meade. I did my "long" bike+run on Fri morning (skipped my normal swim) and took the morning off from training to support my hubby. I don't mind switching around my schedule of training, especially if it means traveling with Karel for his race. I get plenty of endorphins just watching himm race.
After the 3 1/2 hour drive to the middle of nowhere, we finally arrived to the race site. Luckily my Garmin didn't get us lost because we were out in the land of Orange trees and not a house, gas station or car in sight.
The race started at 10:30 and the race was 70 miles. They combined the Pro 1,2 guys with the Category 3 guys (Most Pro guys don't like it when Cat 3's are combined with them...it can get a bit shaky with in-experienced riders trying to race with the top guys).
Each loop was 14 miles and consisted of rollers and long stretches. Although it was a bit warmer than normal without a cloud in the sky, the day started off rather chilly and the strong winds didn't make it any warmer.
As in most cycling races, you really can't predict the race results until the racers cross the line. To keep myself occupied, Campy and I did a lot of walking around. We talked to a lot of Gearlink friends and we met a lot of new friends. I didn't mind that Campy was getting dirty from all of the off-road walking because a bath was in his near future when we get to my parent's house after the race.
Kare and his 4 teammates (James, Clint, Jeff, Ralph) looked good when I saw them for the first 2 loops (each loop took around 28-29 minutes) but it wasn't until the 3rd loop when I saw Jeff rolling into the start/finish line, alone. I asked him what happened and as soon as I saw his rt side of his body, I knew. He crashed....hard. At approximately 32-34 mph (attacking) he tapped a wheel and took himself down. Karel said he saw the crash and said it was hard to watch. Jeff (Karel's boss) was one tough cookie (must be his many years of taking hits in the NFL) even though his shoulder, side and leg was filled with road rash. No broken bones, thankfully, and his Project One Trek Madonne had nothing more than a scratched shifter and derailleur.
After talking with Jeff, I saw Karel's group coming close for the bell lap (last loop). Although there were a few breakaways (James S. being in one of them), nothing stuck. However, I saw 2 guys breaking away as they were crossing the line for the last lap and I see Karel chasing them down. The field didn't respond so I knew anything could happen in this last lap.
My thought was that the chase pack would catch the 3-man break (which included Karel) since it was super windy. Plus, with 40+ guys chasing down 3 guys, there is a lot more horsepower in a chase group than in a 3 man break.
I was really excited for the finish and I had a feeling it would be a field sprint, meaning everyone would be together and everyone would race for an overall finish.
However..I was wrong!
Here comes a 3-man break and with my camera in hand to video the finish, I spot Karel's green Oakley's. I know his sprinting-style very well and I was thrilled to see him racing for his first ever podium spot!
Karel landed in 2nd place..just barely.
The rest of the Lindner team worked really well together and Clint and James managed to place in the top for the field sprint.
I was so happy for Karel and I know how hard he trains. He went into this race wanting to rest up for Sunday's crit race (which I will post later) since it is a Florida Cup Series race and Karel is currently placed 2nd in the Florida Cup series for his points. However, he said that he was feeling great and a top-10 finish at the Crit didn't compare to possibly landing him on the podium. He took a chance and his legs responded and well, it all paid off.
Considering that the average pace for the race was 29mph, Karel thought he was going to die (his words) as he tried to stay with 2 full-time pro's, Ivan Franco (Santo Cycling team) and Calixto Bello (z-motion team). The 3-man break averaged 30mph in order to keep away from the chase pack. Talk about a 14-mile time trial effort with 40+ guys chasing you down.
Enjoy the pics!
*last 4 pics were taken from Craig C. on FB.
Karel's new toy (Quark Power Meter)
(Jeff was so tough that he ended up racing the rest of the weekend and with his specialty on sat afternoon - 14-mile Time Trial - he managed to place 2nd!)
(Karel's video of his finish is posted in my AMAZING-post from Saturday)