Tour of Fairbanks 2016- Wickersham Dome Road Race

I burned a week's worth of matches in the UAF crit.
If my time out of GC contention wasn't measured in weeks, I might have raced it differently. Then again, with the time bonuses up for grabs I probably would have done the math and still gone for it. There were better time-trialists and climbers in the race. When all you have is the douchebag card in your hand, you have to play it.
I knew I wasn't going to last on Saturday's stage. The short road race on Friday morning told me that much. The amount of climbing on the way out to Wickersham Dome would mean eventually I would be left behind to face the wind and hills alone. My whole goal was to make it to the turnaround before that happened. I wasn't worried about the clock. I was worried about finishing. After winning the crit, my whole goal was to complete every stage. I'd spent hundreds of dollars and driven over six hours to be there, and I wanted to finish what I started.
Sometimes being pig-headed isn't the best approach to dealing with injury, but willingness to accept change has never been my strong suit. My goal changed, but the finish line never did. I was bound and determined to cross it.
The forecast was for scattered rain storms. Given my performance forecast, I was hoping they were wrong. Getting dropped on that course is bad enough. Getting dropped on that course in the rain is just brutal. While there were dark clouds here and there as we set off, the roads were dry and the temperatures pleasant. So far, so good.
As we started the long drag out of Fox up the Elliot Highway, I realized that the pace being set was a little higher than I would be able to sustain. Without really trying to, the GC contenders were beating me up on climb after climb. Even on the early descents, where we usually get time to recover, the pace stayed high. I was in trouble, and I knew it. Halfway out, I said my goodbyes and was dropped, but eventually they slowed and I was able to claw my way back up.
When the pack settled down into something I would have normally been comfortable with, I struggled. When they hit the KOM on Wickersham Dome, they rode away. I could manage tempo at best. The group paused at the top of Wickersham Dome in the neutral feed zone before turning around, allowing me to catch back up, but everyone knew I was done.
I lasted a few more miles thanks to the long descent off of Wickersham, but soon enough I faded off the back for good. A couple miles later I waved the follow car around, and it wasn't long before I was alone on the road. Well, alone except for the semis that passed uncomfortably close and the one lady who decided to pass a truck. I was cruising along at over 40 MPH on a descent when she swung into my lane from behind the truck. There was no shoulder to speak of, and I quickly calculated the speed differential I would experience as I splattered myself across the front of her car. Thanks to advanced bike handling skills I failed to exhibit on Thursday and sucking my entire mass up my own rectum to reduce the physical space I occupied, I brushed by on the white line- a couple inches from the edge of the pavement. Kids, don't try this at speed at home.
The closer I got to the finish line, the more my sustainable power dropped. Eventually my plodding was barely perceptible to the naked eye. It turns out I was still moving, because I remained firmly planted between the leaders and those that had been dropped before. I figured sooner or later they would blow by, and I tried to save the energy for one more burst to latch on. Help never arrived.
The last part of the course was a long downhill. Every other time I had raced it, I was marking competition and generally playing tactical games. My only tactic this time was to finish. I rolled past landmarks that usually spur me to greater speeds. I coasted past the finish. I stopped my Garmin. I put it in an easy gear and spun for a while, then I returned to my car and lounged in the warm sun for a while. An hour later my right calf was still twitching and mis-firing, despite all of the anti-cramping measures I had taken before and after the race. I knew it was going to lock up sooner or later.
Not caring about calories or recovery, I hit the Silver Gulch Brewery for a giant bacon cheeseburger and a very large beer. It wasn't a long trip, as we had staged in their parking lot. Crusty and sore, I took my time and tried not to stink too much. As I pulled out of the parking lot, the sky opened up as the promised rain arrived.
Later that night I was thrown from my dorm room bed by a violent charley horse. Another promise made good.
One more day left. One more stage.


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