aka Two Rock Road Race
35+ 4/5 AKA the gang that couldn't ride straight
Had to work again last night so had to skip R's birthday bash and the alcohol loading again...
This race has not been held in a long time, I remember doing it when I was not so fit and getting dropped on the first hill, catching, and getting dropped for good on the next hill, which happens within the first two miles or three miles. I also remember a lot of short hills which is good for my correspondingly short attention span.
Park on a side road of the finish hill and find the hill to be really short, and only a little steep. I decide after a second viewing that since our races are pretty negative that I should just enjoy the two laps and fight for position and go all out from the bottom - the climb is very similar to the climb on Sand Hill from Whiskey Hill to the summit overlooking 280 in terms of length, and I can usually can put the hammer down on Sand Hill after even a ride to the coast.
The first lap is pretty uneventful and the first hill is not a problem for me. One of the hard parts of the course is the continuous string of little rollers but none lasts for more than two minutes, and the hardest is the second that occurs after the finish hill. Since I am just sitting in the first lap it really feels like there is more downhill than uphill. The first lap is most useful for identifying riders that one would not want to ride with given any other choice - i.e. riders who swerve violently without looking, riders whose front wheels are oscillating because they are hanging onto the bars too tight, and some riders who given the choice between riding the one foot to the left of myself and the yellow line and the six feet on the right of me that is empty of riders, insist on saying left and continue on their predetermined path...
I find myself surfing the back of the front group for most of the race with a SJBC rider and he is super strong, too. I make childish, snarky remarks about everyone in front of us and he finds me amusing. At one point we have to turn onto a highway and ride the shoulder and a gap opens and he puts his head down and closes it by himself, and I am all too happy to accept the free ride.
On our second time up the finish hill I am feeling really good so I test out my legs and easily get up to the front of the group. This is probably a mistake, but I stay up there until we descend from the next hill - we are down to about fifteen but ten riders catch on during the long descent. On the next roller my calves are starting to cramp so I massage them and consciously start using a smaller gear, which possibly is a bigger mistake.
The next few hills start to make my hamstrings sting a bit, which seems really odd to me as this has never happened to me during a race. But the front of the group starts to pass a splintered women's group and a couple of them entangle with the women and I come to a complete stop and forget about everything else except catching the front group again. I catch before the summit and we are still about twenty five strong in the peleton.
Marked a few landmarks on the first lap and note the last signficant hill before the two turns onto the finish straight, about five miles out, at which point I want to start moving up. So I do, and the first thing that happens is my hamstring seizes up. I signal so the other riders behind me are not impeded, and immediately start massaging the muscle. This is harder to do while riding versus the calves. I am also rapidly losing ground on the field. Do a bit of calculus and figure that I have to catch now or lose them on the descent/flats to follow or the leg will seize up again and the race will be over in either case. The leg cooperates until I get to the top and it tightens again, but I am able to coast/soft pedal for a long time while I massage it. The SJBC rider is kind enough to offer some water/food but I really need a break in the action! :)
The next three and a half miles is fight for survival against the cramp and the field dropping me. We still have twenty five at this point and reach the two kilometer to go sign at the base of the hill. Once we start going uphill, I really, really, really wanted to go for it but my leg is not cooperating at all. The SJBC rider bolts up the right side of the road and everyone responds. I don't have much of a jump, but am able to sustain a decent effort to the top. Can only pass the riders that blow up, the other riders ahead of me are just too strong for me at this point to catch and pass, and when we turn the final corner I think I see at least ten riders already across the line so there's no point to doing much more and I look behind and don't see anyone, including the riders that we dropped on the hill so I soft pedal the final straight.
The SJBC rider won the race, deservedly so.
Close for me, and yet so far. Need to consciously remember to stretch/rest during the race no matter how strong I feel...
D: 73.6 km
S: 35.6 kph