23 August 2008

2008 35+ 4 San Ardo Road Race

CTL: 116
TSB: 11

Went back to going below threshold the days before a road race, tempting as track racing on Friday nights is.

The 3:30 wake up really puts a crimp in my already sleep deprived life. Preregistration makes you do strange things, paid for it, gotta go...

Temperatures are much cooler than in past years, this bodes well for my cramping problems.

The course has about 900 feet of elevation gain with most of it right after the start in a series of small rolling hills that go on for about half a lap, then it's flat leading back to the start. The pace is sedate, so much so that David (RPS) and I are able to talk about how the race played out last year with a breakaway.

We start going down the rollers and the group does the typical mushroom because no one wants to go to the front after using the draft of the lead riders so I roll off a few times on the descents to see if anybody is paying attention, and someone is always on my wheel right away, so they are. Still it's fun to be on the front on the descents, and hopefully it keeps things a little safer so not a wasted effort.

When we hit the flat parts I try to start or join a breakway intermittently for about fifteen minutes, going off the front hard, easing up to TT pace and reassessing the situation. Due to the number of riders with teammates who chase down the breaks, nothing works, either solo or with one or two other riders, although a Z Team rider gives a valiant effort and we are off for a few minutes but I can see a couple of teams with larger riders on the front, working steadily to close the gap so I advise my breakmate to ease up, a rider with only one other teammate proudly announces his presence when he pulls the pack up. I decide to draft for a bit and wait to try again.

Nothing major changes on the second lap though the hills except a few riders are dropped, since I am recovering from the break attempts right when we start the hills, I am almost dropped, too, and find myself on the back of the pack, trying to do the minimal work necessary to stay in the draft.

By the time we crest the final hill, about six miles from town, I have weaseled my way back to the front again. One rider goes up the road and builds a seventy five meter gap. Then Michael (Mintie) goes and gets fifty meters, and I figure this is as likely as any other break to go so I jump, too. I go out, find I am not closing the gap, and jump again, just a little too hard ( possibly my best sprint of 2008...) and feel quite blown by the time I get to his wheel, and I cry uncle and wait for the warm embrace of the womb of the pack.

Of course what happens is some organization takes hold in the pack, and we reel in the break, but the counter goes and this has four riders and starts putting in serious distance between us and them. They are aided a little by the fact that we are neutralized while the P12 group passes us - it takes the P12s longer to pass a bigger group. By the time we reach the start area, the breakway is barely recognizable as bicyclists in front of us. This could be a repeat of 2006 where the break stays away for half the race, so I have to decide whether or not I will be satisfied with letting the big teams work on chasing this down. I might as well try, because it didn't hurt my results last year and we didn't catch the break, but I am still recovering from my last breakaway attempt. In fact we are going so fast on the flat section that just drafting seems really hard and quitting passes my mind as we approach the parking lot.

When I do start moving up to the front my right calf cramps, and I have to go into survival mode, pedaling as little as possible even uphill by repeatedly doing a few short efforts followed by coasting and stretching. I considering turning around and going to the parking lot because it is so close and downhill from here and it looks like we are not going to chase down the break. Finally the cramp relaxes a bit and Todd and Jonathan (SJBC) have done yeoman work and brought the break close and Todd has enough left to join the break.

When the pack gets within fifty meters, it senses blood and there's another surge, naturally my calf cramps again and I have to conserve and massage for what seems like forever til we get to the shallow rollers leading to the flat section and I can relax a bit, and turn on the camera and gradually work my way from back of the pack to the front in five parts of video:

Finally mid pack of forty riders. This is not the best spot for a non sprinter in a field full of sprinters so I need to move up some more. Move up, relax, lose some spots, repeat.

Still in fifteenth place two minutes out from the finish. On the one hand, this doesn't look good. On the other hand, always tell the juniors at the track to never give up if one is still in the hunt, would be kind of silly if I could not follow my own advice.

Added higher quality version of blurry video to here.

T: 3:02:12
S: 36.9 kph
D: 112 km
C: 95
H: 161
Pavg: 152
Pnorm: 211


Dave said...

I heard you won and was purty happy for you. I had nothing at the finish....burned too many matches, which is OK if you are good, but I'm not. At least you beat all the guys who just sat in. On the other hand....I think I'll sit in at Dunnigan and see what happens. I had a way better season last year (mostly) doing that! Congrats and I hope to see you out there at least once more before the season ends.

Steven Woo said...

Thanks, you were looking better than me on the second lap!

Maybe you had one more match left in you. Just have to ignore the voice inside your head telling you no.

Dave said...

I think you are right. I actually starting gaining speed/watts after making the turn but had already been gapped at the underpass. I need to toughen up.

Manley Man said...

Nice win!!! Since you were mid-pack on the 3rd lap you can get the details of what happened at the front from my race report.

Anonymous said...

Great job. Even better job finding a way to get yourself up front. I was a few riders back from you hugging the yellow line while hoping moto ref did not yank me out. I was never able to get up there.

You did a great job to take advantage of the riding at the front, I had no idea why so many guys blew up around the feed.

Enjoy your victory!

Steven Woo said...

Thanks, abgoose, I got lucky in that there were openings, if it were flatter or just a bit slower, the whole field would have spread out more to fill the road.

Most flat road races/crits seems to end like that but with a lot less fading of speed so it's much harder to pass people from that far back, where here the elevation gain accelerated the process.

Guy Gadois said...

You must have been in the Cat 4 35+ ride. There was no cat 4/5 35+ ride. I was in the cat 5 35+ and didn't see you there.

Steven Woo said...

Thanks Guy, I corrected the title.