I'll start with the Fayetteville Stage race on March 20-21st. This was a late addition to the race calendar but for me it was an opportunity for redemption. Last year I tried the standard TT specialist strategy of sitting in through the first road stage Saturday morning so as to save energy for the afternoon TT. I had adjusted my TT position right before the weekend and it was my first attempt at a short, rolling TT course. The TT was an absolute disaster. Instead of making time, I lost time. This put me in the unfamiliar position of having to make time on the Sunday road race. Sunday was fast and I promptly broke a spoke on my rear wheel, tried to chase back on but failed, and DNF'd.
So back to this year's race and my quest for redemption. The weather forecast called for rain and some wind but I was hopeful it would hold off till near the end of the race. The race was three 23 mile laps. I started the race in a good position near the front of the peleton and held it till mile 20 when my rear wheel went flat. I pulled a quick wheel change and started chasing and my front wheel went flat. Another wheel change and I was chasing furiously but quickly realizing that I needed to find some help or my overall chances were over. 10 miles miles later, no help to be found and the heavens opened. The temperature went from 65 to about 48 with wind and rain. Apparently I wasn't the only guy getting flats as I passed 10-15 racers on the side of the road waiting for wheel changes. The 3rd lap started with guys dropping out due to the cold and wet but I still felt good. Two guys who had flatted caught back up with me and I tried to jump in to try to get back to the main group but my body started shutting down. I dropped off and about mile 55 my body heat disappeared and I could barely drag myself to the finish. With about 2 miles to go my front went flat and I slowly rolled across the finish line shivering and soaking wet. I found out later the windchill was 38 at the finish. Thankfully a racer who had dropped out picked me up at the finish and drove me back to town. I was so cold when I got back to the RV that they put me straight into the shower and afterwards it took 2 hours of wearing all my clothes and huddling under a blanket to get warm. I was ready to go home my body felt so beat from the exposure but I was talked into trying the TT before I went. Of the approximately 85 starters in Stage 1, only about 45 finished.
I headed out to the TT course with temps in the 40s and the wind gusting up to 35 mph. I went off and it was a difficult ride with the hills and the gusting wind preventing any kind of rhythm but I still managed a decent ride to pull 11th in the TT. Even with a good ride I was still 20 minutes down in the overall and I decided to go home and give my shattered body a rest versus trying to battle it out on Sunday. This race remains my nemesis and I can't imagine what it has for me next year.