3500 FEET CLIMBING
After a week of little or no riding, and eating lots of ice cream, I decided to head out with our little gang of three, south of Olean to Kinzua near Warren, PA for the highlight of the past weekend - the Kinzua Classic road race.
Kinzua is located about 5-6 miles east of Warren, within the Allegheny state forest, sort of at the foot of the Allegheny river where one arm branches to the Kinzua Bay and the other goes God knows where (Gulf of Mexico?).
In the native American Senecan language, Kinzua means "waters of many and big fish".
In my language, it means "pretty darn hilly place to hold a race!"
Anyway, this area is home to one of the largest dams in the United States east of the Mississippi River, which creates the Alleghany Reservoir [See Kinzua Dam]. And there's plenty of forested areas to marvel at, and if you're among the ones who likes to go canoeing or motor boating, you can have the Allegheny waters all to yourself, going between densely forested hills that are everything but civilized!
Although this wasn't a USCF race, I imagined it would be nice to race my bike here, even though the temperature was in the low 60's or something and it wasn't too pleasant to be outside here at 8 in the morning, shivering your butt off in scanty bike clothes.
The race was nothing less than challenging with rolling hills, undulating roads and a hillside/mountain top finish, whatever you want to call it. You'd think that 30 miles is nothing , but towards the end, all that pain you thought you can avoid will kick in. Oh well, that depends on whether you're racing or merely riding your bike too... I guess. Most of us were on our limit, especially me after pushing a really big gear up these climbs.
Okay, so here's the profile.
Riders who weren't warmed up or ready enough caught the gnarly air on the first major climb, where faster riders at the front hit the gas and tried to break up the pack, which is exactly what happened.
After a 5 second late start trying to clip in like a noob, I accelerated from the back, trying to get past and stay clear from the slowing group of riders. The front end of the peleton was way out there, and I decided to keep my pace somewhere in the middle. That was my first mistake. If I had given it some more gas, and caught up to the front, I would have survived the shakeup behind. Oh well...open the list of excuses, right?
As far as I remember, on that first hill (atleast for a while), there was a lead select group of 5 or 6 riders, a small chasing pack of maybe 4 with me in it, and then a splintered string of riders behind me. That chasing group broke up, and it was just me and another guy trying to bridge the gap between us and the first group of chasers.
Things got more organized after a few more riders including some good looking girls joined us from the back, which explains for the most part why I started slowing down.
The girls were pretty impressive on the climbs though!!!
Soon, our group of 6 or seven got into a comfort zone, and I remember shouting something like "shorter pulls, faster...!" or "ride like you're racing!!" or some crap like that. Sorry, didn't work. These people were riding like this was a group ride. No way in hell we'd catch the people in front.
So it was a mellow ride till the eventual hill finish, and I just decided to take turns pulling, taking it easy and getting bites to eat.
Eventually, the rollers started taking its toll on our group and one by one, people started falling back. Eventually, it came to 4 chasers with me in it, all of us pretty decent on the climbing. When time came to bite your lower lip and dig into the pain on the last climb to the finish, up came vehicles to dodge past... which was stupid. This is not the Tour de France!
So round and round the road rose, up the final hill to Jakes' Rocks and the plan was to keep it steady and not lose speed. That somehow worked out... we caught a couple of riders up in front, got past them blah blah blah...finished, and called it a day.
I finished 14th - alright for the kind of mood I was in. I was glad I was among the few representing Olean NY. It was kind of sad that more riders from my area didn't come out and race...
Luckily, mother nature decided to rain after all the racing was over. That was good, and we were soon indoors in a local marina restaurant to catch a warm lunch near the water, where we talked about Kinzua and the Indians and some other random stupid stuff.
Here's the cyclophotography of the day :