Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Racing in the Heat

Last night, Tuesday, June 2nd, I rode from Tacoma to Pacific International Raceway out of Auburn, to compete in the weekly Tuesday night race.  For awhile now, the weather has been glorious in the Pacific Northwest but the thermometer has edged up over 75 degrees.  Of course, I acknowledge that if a Californian read that, he would bust a gut.  But, seriously, I don't know what that big round thing is up in the sky but it is too bright - and hot. 

Another thing I don't like about the heat is it causes wind.  Someone said that it was caused by the air warming and, apparently, warm air rises.  This creats a vacuum.  Whatever the cause, my two hour ride to PIR started to feel like those long days of suffering in July when you are trying to make it to Portland from Seattle or down from Crystal to Enumclaw after RAMROD. This is fine but a little unsettling when you are just trying to make it to Tuesday night race.  

In any event, the heat gave me a nice tail wind to Summer but a head wind when I turned North.  I was drained by the time I hit Lea Hill, which is actually three climbs.  Needless to say, I was tired by the time I got to the race. 

My whining aside, PIR races are awesome.  They are the single best way I know to start racing. The course is closed to traffic.  The lanes are wide and safe.  Not to say that there are not mishaps.  (Case in point this video depicting a crash.  PIR Video.  My buddy took that video with cameras both front and rear.)

It is never fun seeing a crash but the video shows the so called flat course really well and gives you and idea of what racing at PIR involves.  The video does not show the speeds very well.  Perhaps we really don't go that fast but it sure feels fast.  When I used to track such things, it was not uncommon to see speeds near 30 mph on portions of the flat course. 

Racing at PIR offers variety in the sense that the race directors will change the routes.  One possible course includes a fast descent followed by a gradual uphill that connects again with the flat course.  The cruel option is the reverse, a gradual but quick descent that culminates in a shorter but steeper uphill.  

As luck would have it, this, the steeper uphill course, was the designated course for racing when I finally made it to the course.  

When the race got underway, it was apparent that the heat was a factor immediately as the entire pack was far more lethargic than it was the last time we raced this course.  Everyone knew the uphill was the killer.  Sure enough, as we hit the hill, I felt it in my legs.  I have always heard the expression "didn't have the legs today" but it wasn't until I started racing that I truly got it.  Some days, for no reason, you just feel horrible.  The muscles literally don't want to work.  That was it.  My body was at impulse power only. 

I stayed with my peers for three laps but abandoned thereafter.  Too much for me. This is a lesson I have learned as I have aged as a rider.  Sometimes your training objectives should be limited and it you meet those objectives, it is often best to stop.  I have reached the point where I just enjoy the process rather than the results.  I have met great friends and enjoy seeing the same faces even if I don't really know everyone.  

I stayed to watch the finish of the races.    After the race, those who made it all had the same sentiment: "Gosh, its hot."  

No comments:

Post a Comment