I competed in the Jamestown Classic road race. This was my first road race so I registered for the men’s Cat 5 35-49 category. The course is a 19 mile route that has rolling hills and a 200 meter spirit that is divided by a 90 degree left turn. It’s not a completely closed course, the racers are restricted to one lane while traffic is going the opposite direction in the other.

The race started along the east Jamestown coast with a beautiful view of the harbor. We set off down Conanicus Ave while the pace car kept the speed at a moderate level until we cleared the crowded downtown area. Roughly 1km from the starting line the pace car pulled up and the pack really started hammering down at the base of a slight climb as we made our way towards the Newport bridge.

Cresting the hill we veered to the right. As we passed under the bridge the pavement started to get rough and I started having thoughts of Paris Roubiax. This force a very sudden slow down that had a ripple effect throughout the peloton and compressed us into a very tight group.

Once we were clear of the Newport bridge area the road smoothed out and gave us a straight shot for about the next 6km. The pace picked up with speeds fluctuating between 43.5 and just under 50kph. The peloton again slowed down as we approached Conanicut Point to negotiate a left hand curve followed by a sharp 90 degree turn. I went into the 90 pretty hot, hot enough that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to hold my line. At this point I started to employ some of my motor bike skills which are more honed then my bicycling abilities. Much to my surprise and evidently the guy beside me I was able to hold my line and make it through the turn. What was even better was that because of my speed going into to turn I had to do a minimal amount of pedalling before I was back in position and drafting off the fella in front of me.

Now relaxed from what I was certain was going to be my intimate meeting of tree I started another long straight that ran for about 7.5km and had three nice sprinting calibre hills. Now something I found odd was that it was this section of the race that I had the most trouble with and it had nothing to do with my fitness or capabilities. It was all attitude! The problem was I had none. I was letting the other riders push me all over the place and this made me expend more energy to retake my position or find a new position. To be fair I don’t think this was something that most of them planned or even realized they were doing. They just seemed very squirrely with their bike handling and rode as if they were all alone. My troubles didn’t improve as we approached the first climb on this leg of the race and guys started dropping. I had managed to let myself get pushed to the outside and this was where the guys being dropped were lingering. I was able to finally get around them and re-join the bunch but not without having to hammer down and waste some more precious energy.

By the time we had completed the last two climbs on this stretch the group had been cut in half. I was feeling good and still had spark in my legs as we approached the last climb before looping around Beavertail lighthouse and making our way back to the finish. This climb weeded out the last of the guys that had burnt themselves out just to get to this point. The plus side was that I was able to stay clear of getting hung up behind them for the most part.

Now I’m not sure who or exactly where but sometime after we topped that last climb someone attacked and the next thing I know we bypassed light speed and went straight to ludicrous. Fortunately just as I was think that I was going to puke on myself and the guy behind me I saw the turn off for the very tight and narrow Beavertail light house loop. I was never so happy to slow down in all my life, little did I know this would be the finishing nail in the coffin for me. Around the light house was a wooden rail guard with open selections for pedestrians to pass through. To protect the riders, hay bales had been set up at on the open section’s post. As we were coming around the sharpest part of the loop this one fella who had been causing me fits the whole time wasn’t able to hold his line and decided to take mine. This forced me change my line and when I scanned my options saw that a little kid was standing next to a hay bale that was going to be my line. I hammered down on my brakes and shot off the back. The peloton passed me like I was standing still, oh wait I was.

Cursing under my breath I slammed down on my pedals with everything I had, grabbed the drops and tucked myself in a low TT position. A few seconds later I started passing drops and realized that someone had attacked and that my chances of catching the group was slim. I continued to push myself ignoring my legs and cursing myself for letting myself get bullied in the pack. Just as I approached Mackerel Cove I could see the peloton cross over it, putting them about 1km in front of me. I dug down deep and took the cove at 48km as I approached the last climb before a 200 meter sprint.

I hit Hamilton Hill and continued to pass more drop outs but I didn’t care I could see the peloton and I was starting to gain a little ground on them. I knew that I had to catch them before they summited and started the sprint or I was going to be finishing solo but not the way we all dream of. I was about 100 meters from the back of the pack and making ground as they crested the top of the hill. My heart almost sank, almost. I don’t know where I found it but I gritted my teeth took the horse by the bit and gave what I had left. Coming over the top I caught a glimpse of the peloton as they made the last turn before the final 100 meters. Seeing the 200 meter sign I started my sprint slowing down only to make the same sharp turn that the peloton just made. Passing through the turn I straighten my bike bake up and started spinning it up. I quickly spun up all my gears and hit the last one with no more gears to give me a boost. The crowd was thick, cheering, and made me feel like a pro cyclist. My legs were cramping, my lungs burned and I was loving it. I tucked down low and sprinted through the finish like I had just won a world tour stage.

Out of a field of 46 I finished 25th and less than two minutes behind the first place finisher. I may not have walked away with a trophy or medal and I didn’t intend to, but I did walk away with something that is far more valuable. I gained experience racing, my not giving up I boost my confidence knowing that I can compete and finish, and lastly I walked away having a great time. I have only completed the level one ABB program under David and I think that if I hadn’t that I would never have been able to perform as well as I did. I’m looking forward to this winter and completing ABB level two before starting his RR program in the spring.