It was a busy weekend, with lots of racing and riding going on. I am going to have a test on all the race reports tonight at the Knot. Prize to those who score 100%. Yes, I am a teacher at heart and love the high stakes test!
I knew I had it coming. As was the case last year, the 2010 Cool Mountain Bike Race got the best of me. It took my ass, put it on a silver platter and very kindly handed it to me on a beautiful sunny day. I think it was, in fact, the same exact location on the course during the second lap where things started to unravel. Up until then, just like last year, I was doing pretty well. Such is the life of a self proclaimed cross racer, father and full time worker whose training regimen mostly consists of 1 hour rides. I started out with the lead group but quickly came off the back of that, no worries, I was just biding my time. I slowly passed a rider here and a rider there, got passed by a few but kept my head about me. By the end of the first lap, I got a report – “Jerry, your six minutes back,” that seemed reasonable given the field that included several top local pro’s and one young and fast whipper snapper. Then it happened, I crept quietly into the pain cave. The pain cave is a dark deep hole for which there is little chance of escape. Knowing that, I pondered the despicable DNF. As I come around to finish lap 2, I see some familiar faces and hear several people cheering for me. All the thoughts of DNF’ng went away. I couldn’t possibly quit in front of all those people, not the least of them my children. It was interesting to hear Jim Northey say, “Are you OK Jerry?” to which I replied, “see you in four hours.” So, there I was, heading out for another lap, something I had absolutely no business doing. Fortunately, I had a friend, and it wasn’t Peter Pissy Pants. The young dude on the $4500 pro-deal Seven Ti-29er with Sram XX was with me the whole way. Eventually, right near the end, he passed me…There were actually some guys behind me (who finished), and several who DNF’d. So, I don’t feel too bad about it. Next year – eat more, train longer, or race two laps with the smart people. Actually, it was a nice visit to the pain cave. I needed it. It’s a good reminder of what the 24 has in store
My Solvang ride was great, but a real battle of head winds for probably 80 of the 100 miles. The wind was tough and took away a lot of the usual chit chat fun.
It was a day in the drops, staring down at the road and lots of fighting your way out of the gutter in the echelon. Needless to say, the day was hard fought. I took the first city limit sprint and hill points with ease but then saw a little fade in power in the 60-80 miles range. I came back strong with (as you might guess) a down hill attack to one of the final short climbs (also part of the Tour of Cali TT) and got away and stayed away from all but my buddy Bob. It was a good day and I finished feeling pretty good but w/out thumping them as I really had hoped to give them. We all agreed that once again we all raised the bar and that this was the hardest effort yet.
RG: (Keep reading, this is a long one! To RG's credit, it was a stage race and is actually three reports.)
We lucked out again and missed the storm window by 12 hours, the rain passed and left it cold and windy, probably high 40’s for race time. The Body Concepts team was slim due to illness and other commitments. It was myself and Kenny representing with this event being his 1st Criterium and Stage Race with only one other Road Race under his belt. The Criterium course was a straight forward wide four corner affair with a few bumps in the corners and with the wind playing a big factor. We had a field size of 62 riders, fairly large but only 1/3 of what the pro pelotons in run; I can only imagine what it would be like trying to make your way up through that many riders. Being a stage race we had two primes, and the top three finishers getting , that would help stretch things out a bit. The race went along fine, just a few squirrely moments when things got bunched up, most notably in turn 3 where they pinched the road down with cones; a few were flying around during the race but nobody went down. After the second prime where a Rio Strada guy made an impressive flyer to nab the time bonus, we only had 6 laps to go. The pace picked up, everyone kept there composure and things really wound up with 2 to go. With the wind was still strong after the last two corners and positioning was key, too early and the matches were spent, too late and you’re boxed in. Rio Strada and especially Taleo played the team game well and had a strong presence up front on the last lap. I stayed in the top 10 hoping to save some energy, as it was a long wide and windy final stretch of about 250 meters to the finish. Things went smooth going through the final turn but then a couple folks let up creating a bottleneck. I was able to squeeze through bumping bars in the process and contest for the win, I caught everyone except one Taleo rider and nabbed 2nd, I think a Rio Strada guy napped 3rd. Time to regroup for the time trail.
Windy was the operative word here, and still a bit chilly. The course was 10. 6 miles, a typical south valley farmland style, flat, 3 right turns, OK roads circumnavigating almond orchards and other ranches. There were many folks decked out with full TT bikes, disc wheels and aero outfits, even in our category. My parking lot neighbor on Taleo had a mid-level Trek machine and would be behind me 30 seconds at the start; I half joked that I hoped I would not see him. I was sporting a set of bolt-on aero handles and a tear drop helmet borrowed from my FT3 teammate Matt Barnes; neither of which I had ever ridden with. The first leg was a fast 7 o’clock tailwind section, 2nd leg at 4 o’clock and it obviously got harder with the 2nd to last section cross wind and finishing stretch going straight into the wind. One could only hope a train would pass when making your way to the finish, at least partially sheltering the wind blast. The plan was to go out medium and ramp it up saving energy for the hardest two legs at the end. The plan seemed to work well as I got in a good heart rate zone and was making time on my 30 second man; I thing speeds were approaching 30mph. Then 2/3rds into the first leg I here “on your right” as my 30 second guy from Taleo comes bombing by, I’m thinking, “crap I thought I was going good, he’ll surely blow on the last two legs.” I kept to the game plan and ramped up the effort and heart rate as the race went on, well over my lactate threshold. I passed 3 guys, including Mr. Decked Out Assos TT man whom I was notably intimated by before the start. The last half of the 3rd leg and final leg were painful, I wanted it to be over. I’m glad I did not have a speedometer as that final headwind section reading would have been demoralizing; sometimes data can ruin a ride. I barely managed to keep down the Chocolate Gu and finished spent. Kenny lamented it was his worst TT ever; I was just hoping my 30 second a rears guy won, otherwise I would be way down in the standings. My clock had me around 25 minutes, OK but not great; we’d have to wait until tomorrow to check the results. I ended up 12th in the TT with my 10 second time bonus from the Criterium bumping me to 8th overall; I was hoping for a top 10 TT, more work or money to spend on that discipline.
Contrary to the weather report the wind was still blowing, although not quite as strong, it was still cold too. Although our 11:20 start time, which pushed 30 minutes would prove to be a good thing; plus, I was spent from Saturday and don’t know if I could have mustered up an 8:00am start time. After hearing about the course and witnessing some premature finishes due to flats, I changed out the carbon tubulars to the old reliable Ksryium clinchers. We still had 55+ riders in our starting grid, and had an easy 3 mile procession to the start. Things started out fast as usual, and finding shelter was a good idea and our local Bicycles Plus gang seemed glad to push the pace. The longest stretch on the main highway was mostly down hill, fast and a bit windy, we then turned onto a rougher road with the center line still enforced. Another right turn and things got really rough, we had the whole width of the road to navigate but it did not matter, it was all chop, several guys lost water bottles and flatted each lap. The road made another right turn and headed up hill where it smoothed out nicely into great set of rollers up the finish. We were running a pretty good clip and managed to catch the Women’s 3’s and Men’s Cat 5’s about half way into the second lap. The group behaved well and I made my way into the top 15 on the main highway stretch of the last lap. We headed into the rough section where the road opened up and I made a mistake giving up my far left side position, several folks made it by and I was not feeling great about my positioning. The legs were feeling good and knew I had the wide roller stretch to work my way up. A couple of good efforts over the rollers and I was right were I wanted to be in the top 10, things bunched up a bit on the last up hill roller going into the finish were a couple guys had more ambition than legs and proceeded to box me in. The Rio Strada guys had good train and great position on the right side, I squeezed through the middle late and worked my way up past a Davis guy for 4th, missing out on that extra 5 second time bonus, which would have been a mute point as the TT times left a larger time spread. I kept my 8th overall and in typical VeloPromo style, it was T-shirts for 6 places overall, not each race, oh well. Kenny made up for the lack of prize money pitched in extra for logistics and provided great company.
If you are still reading, you clearly have too much time on your hands.
Until We Ride,