I am a Cat 4 and this was only my 3rd licensed race. They had 100 registered racers for the Cat 3/4. I could have signed up for the Cat 4/5 and presumably done better, but I am more interested in the experience. We had 100 registered racers and then they added about 30 women racers to our field. I never got an exact count but they sent out an e-mail before the race saying they have never seen anything like this before. The first crash happened within the first 100 yards. I heard there were several more crashes / flat tires ect.. It was a zoo. It was very difficult to move up in the field. They strictly enforced the yellow line rule so that you typically had 2-3 riders across and there was simply nowhere to go. The course was very flat with only two gently rises that did very little to break up the group. Unfortunately it was crashes that broke the peloton and reduced the size.
At 45 miles into the 55 mile race we probably had a peloton of 65 riders. I was literally in the back of the peloton with a 125 heart rate just pedaling along happy to not have any road rash. The first 45 miles were surging but nothing that was going to break things up. I worked my way up to probably 20th place by advancing when the riders would shift to one side or the other while trying to tuck in because of the somewhat brisk cross wind. If it was not windy I would not have had any chance of advancing unless I was willing to risk my life. Looking back I should have moved further up when the opportunity arose.
In the final turn I found that I had fallen back a few more spots, a few guys did a great job of advancing when the group started to narrow to the outside before the turn. The last stretch had a brisk cross wind, I used it to my advantage and moved up several places but as soon as I tucked in behind a rider I was getting passed. I had my elbows out a little and one guy hit me pretty good on my left elbow, I now remember reading that you never have your elbows out. That it can really destabilize you when you get side swiped.
I thought that I gained some ground as we started to sprint. There was a rise before the finish, that helped me some but things were still pretty tight. I passed numerous guys and no one passed me. But in front of me was a wall of riders taking the whole lane. At 200 meters before the finish they finally let you use the whole width of the road. But to be fair most of the guys in front of me had strong sprints.
From Mark--I looked up other cyclist results and found Billy Campbell finished at 24th, Chris Grisvard 25th (he's the guy that kills us out old 161 on Thursdays), Blair Fraley at 26th, Isaiah Wallake at 31st who just downgraded from Cat 2, Rick Lewis was at 40th, Pete Czerwinski at 48th, Young Phenom Logan Leland finished 49th, Doug McConaha was at 55th, Dave Chesrown was at 58th, Kayla Starr was at 5th in Women's 1/2/3 but I know she also crashed, Tim Tyler was 19th in the Cat 1/2/3, Kevin W of Olympus crashed out of the 3/4. I know Younger Phenom Nic raced too but could not find his result. Sorry if I missed someone but the above explains why our Thursday group ride has become so fast.