I love racing in the heat. The hotter it is, the more the other guys are thinking about how hot it is, and with my regular commutes, I only notice the heat when things get slow. Some of my best races have seen temps into the 90's.
Last night was not one of my best.
On paper it wasn't my worst of the season. Hell, I finished upright on the bike and brought home intact hardware. But it felt the most confounding, the most disappointing.
I'd raced hard on Sunday and done a good hard effort on the mountain bike early Monday. Not really in race / recover mode since finishing my Great Cycle Challenge. I'd even ridden in to work on the race bike, so I came into the race with 35 miles on the day. But that's not abnormal for me, and I felt good.
The race was pretty boring, for the most part. I was focused on the end, so I didn't fight for primes, and while I chased down a couple of break-away efforts, I probably only spent about 3/4 of a lap out in the wind. I was dedicated to pedaling efficiency, too, turning the cranks for only 80% of the race, which was a huge improvement over my usual 85 - 88%, and should have yielded enormous results.
And I spent 4 of the last 6 laps camped on the series leader's wheel, only letting him go when we both got buried about 25 riders deep. I figured he'd picked the wrong line, since there was only one lap left and we were waaaay back in the thick of things.
I heard a rival team tell their captain to take the inside line, and I moved to block. I was unchallenged up the back straight, and went into the final turn in the lead position of the inside line. But as we started to exit the turn, the outside line came rolling through much faster. Like a lot faster. Like almost 7mph faster. There was nothing I could do. I pinned it as hard as I could, pushing 1100W+ for the first 3rd of the sprint, then shifting and holding another 900W for most of the rest, but that outside line just rolled away. I might have caught 3 or 4 guys, but that's it.
I watched incredulously as 10 riders crossed the finish line ahead of me, where just 3 weeks ago the series leader and I had incredible success on the inside.
I was shut out of points for the first time since June.
On the one hand, I'm irritated that I couldn't read the race better than the other guys, with whom I usually get to sprint. It's like I missed the memo. On the other hand, I'm thrilled to have had a successful enough season that I can afford to be irritated with an 11th place finish. That argument would probably feel a little more reassuring, though, if the points order hadn't gotten shaken up. As it is, I think I'm now in a tie for 5th, so I have to work that much harder.