Activity: road cycling
Location: Barnesville, MD
Distance: 38.75 miles (rolling hills)
Duration: 1:54
Weather: very hot and sticky, 95-105°F
Climbing: 2,025′
Avg HR: 158 (max 188)
Type: aerobic

As my token tip ‘o’ the hat to bike racing in 2010, I returned to the Giro di Coppi, a race I last competed in back in 2008. That year, the race was rained out on its initial date (a hurricane-induced rain), so it was rescheduled for September, when the weather in the DC area is a bit cooler than in July.

So how was it this July?

It….

was….

HOT!!!!

Seriously, it was a very tough day for racing in Barnesville.

The Cat 5 men started their race at 1pm, when the air temperature was already in the mid-90s (°F), with temperatures on exposed tarmac topping 101-105°. My group raced three laps of a 12.5 mile loop, which can be seen here and here.

There was a neutral roll out to the start from the Barnesville School, at the intersection of Barnesville and Peach Tree Roads, so we started out on an uphill – always a tough start, even after some warm-up riding on Peach Tree Road’s gentle hills. The route is rolling, covering a lot of familiar ground for Potomac Pedalers (PPTC) folk, albeit at a faster pace than usually seen on club rides and with the ability to really fly through the corners at warp speed – and all of it with a police escort!

I rode primarily with Shaun Sohljou (a fellow PPTC member) and his Whole Wheel Velo Club teammates, though I also did a bit of work with the DCMTB guys (I raced with their team, as a guest, in ’08). I made sure to keep Shaun and his guys in contact with the lead group the whole time, as that’s the key to this race: stay in the front pack and attack on the uphill leading toward the start/finish line. That way, you’ll be in the mix at the end, and anything can happen.

Rudi racing the 2010 Giro di Coppi

I'm racing here, on the right-hand side. It was HOT!

Did I mention it was hot? Well, that heat took its toll on the field, and I was no exception. I went out of the blocks with three bottles (one in my jersey pocket), and knew from friends who raced the 1/2/3 race that 4 or 5 bottles would be the minimum for this. So I made sure to hydrate well before the start, ate well, etc., and still it was tough to stay on top of hydration and keep up with the pack. But I managed, and helped Shaun and his teammates bridge some gaps and stay well in touch with the leaders.

At the latter end of lap 2, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace for all three laps, given the heat, so I ramped up my speed and helped Shaun match an acceleration that was instigated by DCMTB and NCVC heading toward the start/finish line. After I was sure that Shaun was near the front, I dropped off, slowly drifting back and settling into a pace that wasn’t necessarily slow, but wasn’t full race pace, either. I joined a few other riders in this quest (“the quest for top 30 placement”), and we rode out the rest of the race, with my legs finding a bit of zip after Kirstin handed off a bottle to me during lap 3 that I used to both drink and douse myself, allowing me to pass some of the crowd in the final kilometer. I finished 18th, a few minutes behind the crowd.

And Shaun? He placed 4th behind two Squadra Coppi guys and (I believe) an ABRT guy. Not a bad way to finish in his last outing as a Cat 5.

The picture was taken near the end of lap 2, I think. And yes, I wore the PPTC colors in the race – gotta love that!

And boy, was I worn out that night! I slept like a brick.