Stage 3 of my personal Tour of California.
My preparation for this race this week was to not ride as much and gain five pounds. This still put me six pounds under the weight for the last time I have data for this race in 2006.
The temps are very mild in stark contrast to most years so will not need as much liquid this year. The race starts off with a bang as Doug (hunny) and a couple of other riders attack on the first hill. Another rider joins them. I chase a bit and consider joining but then settle in at my own pace, there are so many riders I'm certain someone will pull them back in and this happens after about two more hills.
We take the descents faster than I want to with current company. I can remember several crashes in front of me on the same turns the past two years, so I take it at my pace and am able to catch the group pretty easily on the hill after each downhill.
The race feels really easy to me, barring the first five minutes.
One rider attacks near the last hill before Junction and gets a 10 second gap, and dangles out there. We swallow him up on the hill after junction. This still feels really easy compared to the past two years. It's only when we get close to the top that I am under pressure, this felt hard, but when I look at the data it's well under what I can do for the time period in terms of average or normalized power, not sure what's going on there. Anyways, there are about twenty riders ahead. I make myself keep going, and regroup with the a few guys about fifty meters behind the main bunch.
On the next short hill I am dropped again. But I force myself to go up it hard and catch a Santa Cruz guy I caught on the prior hill. We work together for three miles and finally catch a Wells Fargo rider who looks like he's given up hope. But now we are three and we get a paceline going. For a mile I am thinking this is futile but after a few twists and turns we see the main pack. There are less than twenty riders left, they look like they are just cruising, and there are still eighteen miles to go. The carrot makes the riding much easier and we catch them within four or five pulls.
Wow, I am with the lead group of twenty riders, but it's huge for our field. Anthony and Wild Bill are here, too. I recover in the back.
If we have twenty left at the end, the sprint will be pretty ugly.
We reach the 35-40 mph downhill sweeping turns and I have a serious mechanical problem. My brake levers are bottoming out and I almost run into the rider in front of me due to the accordian effect in the turn, by myself I would not need to brake but at the back I need to have the same or better braking power as those in front of me. Not strong enough to go to the front so I decide to hang back a bit to leave myself room to slow.
This is not a problem for the first five miles. Then we get to the last little uphill and I am a bit too far back out of the draft when Bill attacks. I can't get onto the group as they all accelerate away with about two miles to go.
This race felt really easy except for a couple of moments, once on the big hill where I got dropped and for the last acceleration where I got dropped again, and it looks like I didn't try that hard in either case compared to historical data...
Disappointed but can't blame anyone but myself and looking forward to the next race, felt so fresh at the end I ride back to my car at the start and get to cheer on all the folks who started after me and enjoy a rare ride on the East side of Mt Ham in perfect weather (until the rain starts).
In spite of the logistics, the race is extremely well done from registration to past the finish when there is free food and water for all.
I also kept my PowerTap CPU unlike last year so that is a huge positive.
S: 34.8 kph