Had to drive to LA at the last minute on July 4 so rode less this week and ended up peaking for today unintentionally. Still trying to catch up on sleep three days later.
Signed up for this race without any expections - it's sort of like the Brisbane course where there's a long climb. At Brisbane the descent is long so there's not much recovery time, here, the descent is short and the flat section is really long so if one chooses to not work, one can rest quite a bit between repeats of the hill.
Teammates: Eddie Z., and a new club member, Marco.
Preview of the course reveals a very strong headwind on the finish straight/climb and a very strong tailwind on the flat section after the descent. Three juniors from the track program are also in the race.
The race starts and we go at a pretty hard clip on the hill but the effort only takes about two minutes with the hardest bit taking forty five seconds. This fits with my short attention span so I am able to comfortably hide in the pack. Surprisingly I am gapped out of the downhill corner into the flat section almost every lap, I sprint hard but the yo yo effect is huge. On the other hand by the time we reach the next corner, the whole pack slows considerably so one doesn't have to chase hard at all to get back onto the group. This repeats itself eight times, every time up the hill I am thinking this hurts but I tell myself the other guys can't be in any better shape, and the juniors don't seem to be suffering that much, and I always tell them to not give up until after the finish line so it would set a bad precedent to give up while racing with them. :) I seem to find myself on either Marcus Smith or Daniel Farinha's wheels, which is fine since they are good riders but since I have fifty pounds on either of them, there is not much draft here! Can do the climb in the big ring in the group but use the inner ring to take it easier, only have to use the big ring on the last two laps to keep up.
There is the usual sketchiness from riders who don't look before they move, and then either start doing the paper boy on the climb without looking to the side first or take a line totally different from the people in front of them. Work hard to pass these guys.
Finally lap cards come out and it's three to go. Unfortunately, I hear a hissing sound and it's Eddie Z, he has to slow and pull out of the race, his rear derailleur wrapped around his cogset for some reason, ouch.
The other thing that happens every single lap is we slow to crawl on the climb, and the right side of the road has an open lane because the wind is coming from that direction, and it's so easy to just echelon to the left. I count on this happening in the final lap so I bide my time until the final lap, start moving up on the climb, fading back quite a bit on the descent/flat section to the back of the pack, and thinking - the race is over for me because I am too far back, but then on the last time up the climb, we slow considerably. I immediately start edging to the right, ignoring some contact, and patiently pass when possible. When the 200 meter sign shows up ( I measured this at 400+ meters before the race ) I finally get to the front of the pack. We are going so slow at this point I assume we could get swarmed at any moment so I attack and hope for the best. Am a bit overgeared for being on the front but grind it out on the slight descent into the final little pitch upward and am still on the front. Holy cow, this can't be happening. Of course it doesn't happen, as a very strong rider easily passes me in the last 50 meters or so but I force myself to turn the pedals over despite the pain in the legs and hold on for second place. The last five minutes of the race is the hardest I have gone for five minutes in a year, even though I just tried to sprint long.
S: 39.1 kph
The fog burns off and the afternoon race is really hot. No teammates in this one and a lot of faces show up that were not in the E4 race. This race starts off at a slightly more sedate pace than the E4 race, and I force myself to use the 36 on the climb to save my legs as they are complaining mightily. Normally my quads never get sore but I can feel them burning now. Each time up the climb feels hard but I know it can't be as bad as I think and try not to defeat myself with negative thoughts. I hear my friends cheering for me on the sideline, too, so it feels like quitting would be letting them down! Have better luck with staying in the shelter of the pack with this group for the whole lap, though. And I know the speed it is a little lower than the first race, so concentrate on one section of each lap, every lap and hang in there. The lap cards show up at three to go and I concentrate on only four more times up the hill, manage to drop my chain while downshifting and am passed by most of the pack while I struggle to get the chain back on and burn a match to get back into the shelter of the group, near the back of the pack and start moving up. With two to go I am second wheel on the climb so a little too hyper from four cups of coffee, and patiently wait for the swarm and get back in line in tenth on the final big descent. Try to rest a bit on the flats but this costs me about twenty positions. Whoops. Once we hit the first part of the climb after the momentum fades from the flat section we start going about fifteen miles and hour and group up very compactly and there is lots of contact and I concentrate on not freaking out... I try to move up but the hill is not hard enough yet, and we probably went a bit easier so lots of rested legs in the pack so less people are blowing up. I am in the second row when a rider jumps off the front. He gets about twenty meters and it looks like that's the race with about three hundred meters to go. Finally I get to the front and attack. I am gaining on him gradually but I can tell with about thirty meters to go that I will run out of real estate to catch and start to fade. This is when two riders pull even with me and I sprint again but don't have anything left and end up in fourth. The last five minutes of this race tops the last five minutes of the prior race, but I still was overgeared in the final sprint, the last little descent requires a bigger gear but I forgot to downshift for the last uphill.
Woohoo, sixteen upgrade points now over the last twelve months.
The tactic I used today only works on a few courses, the pace is high enough on flat courses that one cannot go all the way from the back to the front in the final lap , especially when there are 40+ riders.