Race Recap: Sumatanga Road Race #5 3/4s

I’m almost a week late on this post, so the race might not be as fresh on my mind, but after a busy weekend and crazy week at work, I finally have the time to type up the recap.

Last weekend I drove up to Camp Sumatanga for the 5th race in the Sumatanga Road Race series put on by Local Bike Racing. This was my first open race after racing for the first time ever during the collegiate road season this spring. The race was also my first race as a Cat 4 racer after upgrading recently in order to ride in the 3/4 race.

Going into the race, my main objective was just to really work on my pack skills and get more comfortable moving around a faster and more experienced field. During collegiate season I was able to be pretty successful by just relying on my legs, but as I want to race as a B next year I know I really need to work on making the most of my efforts and not just dangling off the back each time I move off the front. With Wednesday Night Worlds in Auburn each week I’ve been able to slowly work on getting more comfortable drafting really close in a pace line, but this served as a more applicable situation.

Since I was already up in Birmingham getting ready to go to a wedding with my family, the race was super easy to get to. With the later start time, I was able to leave my house at 7 and still make it in plenty of time to get checked in and have time for a good warmup. I wanted to make sure I had time to warm up and recon the course a little bit since I’ve never raced this course and I had no clue how the 3/4 race would start.

Race Recap

The warmup was definitely not needed for this race as we started at a super slow pace. I was a little anxious so it was annoying to start at pace that literally sat at 15mph for the first mile or two. I had started a little further back than I wanted because they had the P/1/2/3 racers lined up at the same time as the 3/4s so I wasn’t sure where my field began. I used the slow start to move up slowly and get in position for any first jumps.

All throughout collegiate season, I learned that I really liked to get in any breakaway I can. Breakaways suit my abilities and really make up for my lack of handling skills at the moment. I had moved to the front at the perfect time with one of my collegiate teammates actually made the first real move. I knew he was looking for a sprint at the end, so it was clear he was just as bored as I was and just wanted to get the actual racing started.

Naturally I rolled up to him shortly after the first corner of the course and went on past. Shortly after that two more riders joined me and we got an easy quick gap since no one else seemed to be interested in a breakaway. I knew a breakaway in the first lap stood no chance, but my goal was to see how my legs were feeling and do the best I could to push the lead out. The rest of the breakaway group consisted of a junior racer (who I later found out will be starting at Auburn in the fall, so hopefully a future teammate) and a guy who seemed to be more of a sprinter from one of the bigger teams in the race.

The junior was clearly pretty strong but was having a little trouble with pacing and learning how to work in the breakaway. It reminded me of so many of the breakaways I found myself in in the C races during collegiate season. Once we figured out a system of pulls that worked for each of us, we really started to build a decent gap. We had gotten out of site except for the long straight sections which is always my first goal when getting in a breakaway.

Once I was in the breakaway, the first lap really flew by. We were coming through the finish line to complete the first of our five laps and I was pretty impressed with how fast the lap had seemed. In hind site, each lap was less than 10 miles, so this wasn’t too much of a surprise. I guess I was just used to longer laps closer to 15-20 miles for some of our collegiate races. Our initial strategy during the first lap started to hurt the third guy in the breakaway so he suggested we try a continuously rotating paceline. I didn’t agree with this idea in such a small breakaway but I didn’t really have the energy to say otherwise and since it helped him, I was happy to keep all three of us on the same page so we could have some small chance of staying away.

We made the last turn of the second lap and I still could barely see the field in the distance so I was again surprised at how well we had been doing up to this point. Then, on the second time over the rough section of road that came before the finish each lap the field must have really made up good time. Just as we made it off of the rough portion and I was ready to start putting in more effort to try and push out the lead, the field had pretty much completely closed the gap. At this point I still had a good bit of energy so I just hopped right near the front and continued to contribute to the pace in hopes of hurting a few people in the back right after the group had sped up to catch us.

After being caught, I knew that was probably the last break to really get away so I switched back to my main objective of trying to work on my pack skills. Each lap I worked on getting to the front, pulling a little bit, and then trying to jump back in the pack in fifth position or so. I learned really quickly that moving around a field of riders that knew how to ride their bike is much easier than the C fields that I experienced in collegiate season. During the course of the whole race I only had a few instances where I had riders do something unexpected and managed to avoid any issues each time.

People kept attacking up the few “hills” on this course so each of those hurt a little bit each time I was out of position, but for the most part the third and fourth laps went by with very little action. On the last lap, it was clear that everyone thought they were a sprinter, even the teams with more than five riders, and no one wanted to do any work. This was the point where I really got frustrated and was disappointed I didn’t have any teammates to work for. I am by no means a sprinter, and with very few places to attack and no one to work with, my race was essentially over.

Moving forward to the last turn of the course and the last time over the rough section the pace finally started to pick up. Going through the last corner I got a taste of my own medicine a little bit when a kid in front of me grabbed the breaks through the corner causing me to go wider than I had planned. I handled it better than I expected and was able to move up the outside a little bit. I jumped back in the field in about 10th position and told myself I would try to hold that spot until we got to the smoother tarmac. This plan worked for the most part but the pace was really high once we got out of the rough portion so it was hard to not just drift back by default.

In my recon of the finish line during my warmup, I had noticed that the last “climb” was further from the finish line that I had expected and came with a little over 1km to go. I figured it was my best opportunity anyways so started to move to the outside so I could burn my last matches as a last ditch effort to make something of my race. As we approached the final hill, I saw that I was about to get boxed in and trapped on the inside line so I moved earlier than I wanted. I gave what I had up the final climb and was bumping bars the whole time trying to tightrope the white line on the right side. Since I had to start my effort sooner than I wanted I had almost no legs left at the top of the climb and definitely couldn’t sustain the effort.

After my attack, another rider near me launched another attack towards the line but I just couldn’t find the power to catch his wheel at that time. In hind sight, I really wish I had had the energy because he ended up getting a small gap and was able to hold it almost all the way to the line. Hypothetically I could have ridden his wheel closer to the line and helped myself avoid getting swarmed. Instead I was left with no good wheels to catch and most of the field passed me in the last 500m as others started to open their “sprints.” At this point I knew the race was over and I just cruised in to the line.

I ended up getting 26th out of a field of 30 something, so not great, but I had accomplished what I wanted for the race and certainly didn’t have energy left.


While I would have liked a little more appealing placing in my first 3/4 race, I was satisfied with how my legs felt most of the day and certainly am now more confident in my pack handling skills. As an added bonus I also felt like I took the corners really well for my standards even though they were pretty wide turns.

With my longest race prior to this being just 39 miles on a flat course in Florida in the very beginning of spring, I was a little concerned with my race nutrition and hydration, but it ended up not being a big issue. I was able to do just fine with just two bottles and actually never ended up eating the fig bars that I had in my pockets. I probably should have eaten a little bit, but considering how often I was near the front, I really never found good time to eat and I’m glad it wasn’t too much of a problem.

The only really issue with the longer race was that my butt hurt a lot more than normal. I’d like to think this was more due to being in an aggressive position for almost the entire 50 mile race.

This might have been a little wordy for my first race recap, but with a pretty boring race and low expectations, I tried to give the most fluid recap I could remember after sitting on this for a week. Thanks for reading and I’ll definitely try to get future recaps up much sooner after the races. I saw a few different people take pictures of me while I was suffering in the break, but I haven’t been able to find any of them, so I guess you’ll have to make do with another picture of my pretty bike.