If I'm going to drive 200 miles, I'm going to stay an extra day to try a race I've never done before... It's a flat L, the course is different from prior years due to construction with a very short final straight so position in the last corner is pretty much everything. The main difficulty today is the heat, it's pretty oppressive after ten AM. Next time I need to bring an ice chest to sit in...
Was originally going to do the 4/5 and the 35+ 4/5 race, but my teammate Mark emailed me and asked if I was in Chico so I switched to the 3/4 and 35+ 3/4/5 races so I could race with someone, always more fun with someone you know.
Skipping the 4/5 race turns out to be a stroke of good fortune since half the field is crashed out and DNF's. This also delays the rest of the AM races and shortens our 3/4 race by fifteen minutes.
I am just going to try to help out where I can, Mark is already pretty good at positioning himself and sprinting so my primary help to him was probably over when I rented a hotel room!
The race is pretty hard from the gun and we drop quite a few folks, almost half the field. It's strung out for most of the race. There's a lull towards the end and I see Mark sitting around tenth instead of his usual fourth or fifth so I move up towards the front to up the pace a bit and he moves up to, it turns out the rest of the race will have no more lulls. In fact I am last in the pack at about 20th and we go so fast into the final turn I ease up because there's no point in sprinting and it's much faster than I would have considered going into it! But it's all worth it as Mark get's second, he said he entered the last turn in second and sort of boxed himself in against the rider in first and could not accelerate until it was too late.
D: 24.8 km
We have a long three or four hours until our second race. I probably spent too much time outside because I felt exhausted by the time we started. This race felt much harder than the first and Mark confirmed this but the data shows it as about the same or a little easier so the heat took a toll on both of us. Three riders escape mid race. I feel miserable and consider quitting but will soon find out what miserable is. Didn't realize the riders were off the front until it was too late.
We drop almost half the field in this race, too. Lap cards come out and I just hang on for dear life at the back of the pack. One disadvantage to being lower on the bike than most of the riders is that one's view is limited when a larger rider is directly in front of you. This lesson is served up when I have about one second of braking time when the rider in front of me swerves abruptly to avoid an accident and I brake hard but am unable to stop in time and hit Gino who has stopped for a rider who crashed in front of him. I guess that's what I get for making fun of people who run into the back of me at full speed...On the plus side this gives Gino a genuine reason to get a free lap since I can vouch for him. I am not too badly hurt, it does take four weeks for my elbow to fully heal, but I join Gino near the start finish for my free lap and we rejoin with six to go.
After a few laps we catch Todd Manley who was off the front in the break, leaving two others still off. I counter with three laps to go. At first I just accelerated to get to the front and up the pace but no one responded so instead of braking I just kept going, at least someone else would have to chase me and Mark would get a free ride. Unfortunately I only lasted two laps so the pack gobbled me up but Mark did great again in the finale and got third for his second podium on the day.
D: 26.8 km