The Course in St. Croix is amazing.
A crystal clear harbor swim to start the day
RELENTLESS 90km cycle. Kind of multi-loop, but not entirely (which I didn't finish)
And a challenging gravel, grass & asphalt mixed run (which I never started)
Typically, the roads in St. Croix are good.
I'm sure a large percentage of the Island's small GDP is spent on laying hot mix, largely with the triathlon in mind. The triathlon is big tourism for the island, so I would imagine having goods roads is important to them.
Unfortunately though, when I say 'typically', it does not mean entirely. And the conditions of the 'other' roads looks like this
...which ultimately left me feeling something like this
About three days before the race, the road sweepers looped the course and made a good job of clearing debris, restoring the portions of road above to an acceptable racing surface. Though as Murphy's Law suggests, everything that can go wrong will, and the island had heavy rains & storms the night before the event.
We were now doing a partial cyclocross race, on TT bikes.
70.3's for me are still a fun event, something I don't take all too serious. I'm still leaning how to race them, and I've still only done three 70.3's so far. Consequently, I don't put too much pressure on myself when I race them, and I tend to be overly relaxed before the start. Even with the roads in such bad shape I was still calm. I guess everyone had to race over the same course so it was fair game.
The swim was pretty uneventful. I didn't get the greatest start and wasn't really that motivated the use too much gas early on in the race. The bike was the deal maker (or breaker in my case). I swam comfortably & was happy to let most of the main players sit on my feet. I led out and just tried to keep my heartrate as low as possible through transition. (this is the only race picture I have)
Once on the bike, Ben Collins took the lead immediately, and I knew it was my ticket to stay with him as long as possible. He was jamming hard, and every five minutes or so I would look behind to see fewer athletes holding on, and by 20minutes into the race it was just him and I.
They say the race doesn't start in St. Croix until you hit 'The Beast'. The Beast is a significant climb, .9miles in length with an average gradient of 15%. It even hits 26% for some meters. Ben & I got to The Beast in 47minutes, having already gained 1,300ft in elevation with an average power of 293w. We climbed The Beast side by side, matching breath for pedal stroke. It was one of the most surreal feelings I've ever had in racing. Out of the saddle the whole time, looking around the corners, longing for the top; every second of the climb was garnished in pain. A few words of consternation were sworn by Ben, I think because he actually hadn't seen the climb before he started the race. This made me feel relaxed and composed, like I was in control. I knew if I stayed with Ben for the climb, I could stay with him the whole race. We ascended The Beast in exactly 6minutes, with 500ft of gain and an average power of 363w. That's a 5.65w/kg effort in the middle of a 70.3.
We started descending The Beast, and this is where my effort stopped with a flat tyre. I felt all like
...but had plenty of time to compose my thoughts as I waited 10minutes for some spares to arrive. The spares truck didn't have any tyre levers, so there went another 5minutes to change & pump up the tyre. After I stopped with the flat, it was a good 5minutes until the next competitors rode past. It was at this point I realised that two main players in Dirk Bockel & Tim O'Donnell had also dropped out from flats.
So I got back on my Felt, struggling somewhat for motivation to get myself back in the race. I was always going to finish, but just with a little less effort than I would have given racing for the win up the road with Ben Collins. Ben went on to ride a 2.14 90km. This was two minutes faster than what Lance Armstrong rode the course in last year. An absolute phenomenal effort, one which obviously cost him the race. He passed out later on in the run, making it Deja Vu for the second time this year (see San Juan 70.3). He wrote on his blog that he rode conservatively; maybe a little meat missing between the ears there Ben.
Anyhow, about 10minutes after flat change, I started catching athletes until my gear lever failed and I was stuck in the 11 on the back, which was dire on this course to say the least. It was at this point I was all like
...and decided to retire from the race. Without coincidence, this is a picture of Dirk after his flat earlier on.
So this narrative still leaves me without a result for the first half of 2013. Expect to see me start in Boise 70.3 in three weeks time looking to make amends.
Thanks Amigos, take care