Raising Cane's Road Race Cat. 4 Race Report
St. Francisville was the site of the first road race of the season back in early March – Rouge Roubaix, a tough 100 mile race that includes steep grades on gravel roads. The race today in St. Francisville may only feel that hard, as the season is wrapping up and many of us had done a hard four man time trial the day before. After a 3 mile entry, the course consists of two 18 mile loops with “big chainring” hills. The last time I heard that adjective was in Cuba , AL for the MeridianChallenge as the hills and heat beat me up pretty good.
There are 18 riders at the start of the race if you count Tre' Haydel with Raising Cane's who flats before getting 200m into it. I see him at the finish drinking a beer on an ice chest. The pace starts out pretty fast as Stacy Eckerson with ProBike is putting it on. He hadn't done the race yesterday and is maybe hoping to drop a few folks early. The hills are just rolling as advertised and there aren't any that are very significant.
There are a few attacks after about ten miles into the race. I am with all the break-aways hopping to get away from the pack. Matt Davis moved up to a Cat 3 today and will finish an impressive 2 nd in the Cat 1,2,3 race going on at the same time. It does change the dynamics of the race as before we just TRIED to stay with him.
I go off the front a few times with Darron Leach of Tiger Cycling and Scott Gurganus of Team LaS'port but we don't have enough firepower or hills to stay away from the pack. There are other strong riders who go off in the breaks as well but we can't seem to stay away during the first lap.
I have a couple of team mates from NOBC in the race as well. Francis Asprodites and Ed Kendrick are both working on some of the breaks. Francis did the 4 man TT with me yesterday and was very strong.
Most of the rolling hills are in the first half of the loop. Scott pushes the pace as the start of the loop and I attack every time there hill. The pack is starting to hurt but we just can't seem to make anything stick. I am not strong enough to stay away solo after an attack and there doesn't seem to be anyone catching me who wants to go around me to start a paceline. After about three or four tries and with smaller and smaller hills, I figure I am better off recovering for the inevitable bunch sprint.
It has been raining off and on during the race which hasn't been too bad, keeping the temperature cooler since we started at 11:30AM. We never actually got rained on but different parts of the loop were wet as we passed. The course also has quite a bit of shade which is nice. As we make a turn about four miles from the finish many riders slow down on the slick road. I am behind Brian Darby, a strong unattached rider I met at a time trial a few weeks back. After the turn, I look back and see that Brian and I have a gap along with a rider I don't know in the front. He pushes the pace a bit but at this point the pack isn't going to let a group drift off.
There are a dozen riders together as we are within one mile of the finish. The pace has picked up and there is a lot of positioning going on. There is a slight hill maybe 300m from the finish. People are starting to sprint as we get near the base of the hill. I am feeling pretty good and start as well and get a decent jump. This is the first time I feel my legs as a cramp starts in my thigh but it doesn't really affect my effort. I push hard and try to hold on but can see Brian and another rider come by me on the left. I dig to hold on but Scott is able to catch me as well on the line so I settle for fourth place. Francis finished right with me for fifth place. Brian finished first.
There are only a few races left in the season and many of us are counting them down.