No excuses OR Everything Suffers.
This is the most fun I've ever had at a bike race. The course was amazing. I made people suffer. I got to watch the girls win (again).
I showed up on friday and pre-rode the course to get a feel for how it would run. There were a series of 1-4 minute hills, none of them too steep except one near the end where I may have used my lowest gear for all of 30 seconds. The descents were amazing though. 40+ mph through twisty corners but not having to touch the brakes as long as you picked a good line. Somewhere between a racecar and a roller coaster. There isn't much flat on this course. You're either going up or down for most of the day.
Day of the race: wake up when it's still dark, drive to the new race listening to the new Teddybears CD i just made
(thanks botto, best riding music to date)
Horrible pre-race jitters. Every race I've had until now has had some excuse for doing poorly. I got sick earlier this week but I'm feeling better now. No excuses this time. I sign up, suit up, and just about puke sitting at the line waiting to start. There are two 4/5 fields with 50 guys each. I'm in the first group. Blow the horn, off we go. 4 laps, 10-ish miles each, 43 miles total.
I have 2 goals in this race:
A: win the race
B: if plan A fails, try to learn something that will help with A next time.
Promenade gets the blood flowing, then the first (and longest) climb of the day. I've found that I climb better at lower cadences so I big ring it at 70rpm and everything feels good. When the descents come I learn that my weight really is a bonus. I go faster by coasting and tucking than other guys pedaling. I draft one guy until he slinghots me to the front of the line and I never have to pedal. Rad. Yay for being fat. I lead the next few climbs but I'm cool with that. The race has 2 scary turns, a hairpin right and a left that sneaks up on you at 40mph. I make sure to be near or at the front for each of these. The first right goes well but on the first left, the only guy in front of me overcooks it and ends up riding off the road. He stays upright but loses a few positions. A few little climbs and then comes the twisty part.
Holy s**t people are bad at descending. All I have to do is tuck and pick a line, and in the end I have a 3-5 second lead on the field. I'm not going to attack, but it makes them work that much harder while i'm cruising up the next hill. Rad.
On the second lap we start dropping people. On the third lap our field of 50 is down to 15 guys, or 16 if you count the straggler we picked up from the 3's. Can you do that? Who cares, he's big and good to hide behind. The girls field shattered on the first few climbs ( Go Olivia and Catherine! ) so we pass what appears to be shelled DV women, who I later learn are actually doing great (5th and 7th respectively). Somewhere in the second lap my front bottle cage snaps off. There wasnt even a bottle in it to start with. I look down and see a screw, but no cage. damn.
The race continues like this. I learn that I can lay the hurt down on the pack on that longer hill, but they make me suffer sprinting up the smaller ones. The finish line is on top of a smaller hill. S@@t. I keep this in mind and try to conserve some energy. It works on lap 3, but by lap 4 everyone's doing that thing where they up the pace for 2 minutes, then slow WAY down for 30s. I love the rest and all but I'm much better with steady state power than I am with these surges. The final surge happpens on the 2nd to last climb. I get gapped by about 10 seconds and work to close it. I manage to make it back, but now they're sprinting up the last hill. I just keep it rolling. Pedal. breathe. did I just puke? pedal. burn. over.
I came in 2nd to last in our group which puts me in 14th or 15th. (i can't count too well when I'm anaerobic). I meet the guy who won. His name is Luciano, he's a 4, and he did a ton of work during the race. Awesome, so i'm at least 13th in the 5's.
I watch the girls finish. Awesome that they did that well in the 3/4 field. On the way to the parking lot my front derailuer cable snaps. Wow. first shift after the race. Glad it waited.
So since plan A didn't pan out, plan B:
*I need to get better at climbing short hills, plain and simple.
*The 4's ARE tougher than the 5's, but not by much. I'm eager to see how I placed among the other Cat. 5's.
*Maybe I should have found a way to do less work, but the relative lack of flats meant that we were either climbing (minimal draft) or decsending ( don't have to pedal) for most of the day. If I was smarter about it, maybe it would have made the small difference at the end.
Avg. Speed: 20
Top Speed: 47
Avg. Power: 284 (lots of coasting)
Next week: Copperopolis!