NCVC’s Poolesville Road Race is a MABRA tradition. It’s the regional Roubaix, with something like a mile of gravel in each 10 mile lap. It’s early-May date means that any kind of weather could be in the forecast, and because it doesn’t conflict with any other big events, participation is always high. This year, it got a little extra publicity because the organizers failed to include a pro/1/2 women’s field. But I guess somebody has to sit in the feed zone.
On purpose, actually. Because I don’t want to talk about the race.
There aren’t a whole lot of noteworthy features in it. In fact, most people don’t even remember that there’s pavement. Seriously. One could be excused for claiming victory after riding back and forth across the gravel all day. That aside, the other 9 miles each lap are of the rolling terrain variety. Centerline rule applied, but moving around in the field was never very difficult. I should know: my slide from the very front to the very back was totally effortless!
I was coming off a rest week, but put a few efforts in on the bike a day or so early to get my legs back in the swing of things. One of my teammates and I scouted the final miles of the course so that we could dial our leadout. Another took charge of leading us safely into the gravel each lap. As we staged and rolled out, everything seemed copacetic. And for the first half of the day, everything was.
We rode a strong, mostly smart’ish 3 laps. All 3 of us were in the first 10 wheels the entire time, we were among the first 5 riders on to the gravel, and nothing seemed very difficult. Then, on the 4th lap, my race started to fall apart. I started losing positions and, before I knew it, I was at the back. Shortly after the next trip through the gravel, I found myself yo-yo’ing with the back of the field. A little bit farther down the road the elastic snapped and I was chasing. I caught back on as the field hit the feed zone, but the next 20 miles didn’t look like they’d provide much relief.
And they didn’t. I did my best to work may up the group, eventually touching base with the front 10 again, only to slide back every time actual work was called for. Through the gravel a 5th time, I reassumed my position at the ass-end of affairs, then lost contact shortly after the transition to pavement.
And that was Poolesville. I could write a litany of reasons that I didn’t meet expectations, but the truth is that somewhere between “this got really hard” and “shit, 20 more miles?” I just let go. It’s not the first time in recent events I checked out prematurely and it’s incredibly disappointing to find myself in that place. But I don’t have any big training deficits to overcome and I haven’t been featured on You Got Dropped yet, so there’s still time to turn things around.