Tuesday, March 07, 2006

McLane Foothills Roadrace Report

McLane Pacific Foothills Road Race
Date: 3/5/06
Course: 24 mile loop/ rolling course with some rough spots and a couple of “hills”/ 48 miles-2 laps in 1:59
Category: Elite 4
Field: 100 starters
Teammate: Scott, Jeff, Josh, Brian and James (Channing rode solo in the 3’s/ Tony and Eric in the Masters 4’s)
Place: 9th/ 26mph avg speed

I woke up feeling pretty good, surprised that I didn’t feel a little more wrecked after a fast and furious race on Sat. Somehow I managed to get a good couple of nights sleep in the hotel (Channing’s snoring only woke me once). Loading up the car we headed out to the race location, which was only 20+ minutes from Merced. Last year a bridge was washed out and it took almost an hour to get to the race.

So we get there and it is cold. 50-ish would be my guess. It seemed colder though because the wind was gusting up with overcast skies. I got registered and set up. Somehow, I managed to only get 13 min of spinning on the rollers before we had to line up. Our race was supposed to be at 9:15 so we rolled down their 10 min early only to sit there till 9:40! I was so cold I was starting to shiver, not a good sign. I had decided to race with the number pinned on my vest, a base layer, extra jersey and arm/ legwarmers. I ended pulling the arm warmers off in the 2nd lap, but was glad to be bundled up. I hadn’t finished better than 18th in any road race in the past, so I was a little nervous and ready to go.

Lap 1:

We take off and I thought the pace would start out a bit on the easy side with the wind and all, but no. Damm near 50 kph right from the gate. Ouch! I wasn’t ready for that at all. I was floating around mid-pack and new I was in poor position but was in no shape to move up just yet (13 min. is not a warm-up). I had hoped guys would ride smart and not start falling down, no sooner had I looked up the road, some guy bit it off to the right. Hey, cool, missed that one! I knew I was to far back but I thought I might feel better after the long shallow uphill portion. We’re going on and on and I am starting to think that if the pace doesn’t slow down a bit, I might have trouble finishing with the group. Then I saw Jeff flat and ride off the road. He didn’t crash, just stopped w/ a flat. I felt bad because he was looking strong and he rode well yesterday.

Finally we take the turn onto the “downhill” section and I got a breather. Yes! I sat-in a bit and started moving up when I could. There wasn’t any one team that was taking control, so it was a free-for-all at this point. While making my way up threw the pack I ran into the boys one by one. We were coming up to the “Roubix” portion of the lap that had a long stretch of bumpy asphalt and potholes, along with the few bigger rollers in the race that then leaded into the last 10-12 k to the rolling finish. Last year I found out the hard way you have to be in the front onto this section to avoid guys swerving all over on the bad pave’ I was now feeling a lot better, legs spinning and not feeling like dead wood. I surged ahead to get into the top 15 onto the mentioned section. Whoa! Where did the bumps go? And what’s this? A tailwind over the rollers? Oh yea…. things improved from there. I managed to get myself into a small break off the front passing through the finish section getting to basically do a “trial run” into the finish that paid off later. Down to the finish area I was in the top 10 or so.

Lap 2:

We hit the feed zone, I took a long drink, a few deep breaths and switched bottles. The main group was now back. I felt warmed up now, and began to realize a good result was possible if I rode smart and stayed out of trouble. A few kilometers down the road and you could see we’re catching what looked like the women’s field. In the distance we could see the follow cars. I guess there was a large crash and a few girls on the side of the road when we passed. I remained focused on staying in the front and out of the wind as much as possible. By now I was feeling pretty strong and was able to pull into the wind and move up, sit in and recover so I knew that to be top 10 onto the “Roubix” section was #1 priority. Getting closer to the turn off, a Webcor guy who had just given me a lift up to the front of the line, attacked. I looked and no one went with him so I bridged to him and though shit, I’ll suck his wheel and maybe we could get a break going (which would have been great through this portion with the tail wind) But he stopped pulling when he noticed I was on him and he swung off quick. I peddled out in the wind for a bit then a few guys came up to us. Again, almost a good break, even running an echelon for a while but it didn’t last. I was happy because I managed to not have to do too much and the pelaton caught us right after turning onto the rough section.

Well now or never. I knew I had to maintain position from here on out. Over the rollers I was feeling scary strong out of the saddle over the climbs and knew I was in for a good place. I didn’t feel spent. I had fueled well and it seemed everyone else around was working harder than I was. Flying down the steepest part of the course I could see that we were indeed closing on the women and I knew no matter what, I had to get through the bottleneck that was bound to occur when we caught them. We did catch them and in the worst part, a funky “S” turn going up hill. Down to one lane, I muscled my way through and I pushed over the final rise to the finish straight. I was thinking we were a little further out and started sprinting a couple seconds late in the 53X11 and throttled down to the line with everything I had. I was in the top 10 for sure and what seemed like 7th place. I was just happy it was over and I was up there. What a race! I found out later that the finish camera wasn’t “on” and the results had me first posted in 10th, then 9th. A Webcor guy I finished in front of was listed in my position and should have been at least in 8th. What a nightmare, protest after protest, finally an hour or more later myself and the rest of the top 10 said whatever and I just wanted the $15 cash so I could buy Channing and myself some lunch. I was tired and ready to go. I was really disappointed that at a NRC race they could flub the finish line camera for more than just my race. All in all I had a great weekend of racing.

Channing was a great roommate and getting to hang out and talk with him, Jeff and Scott was fun. The team dinner (with most everybody) on Saturday night was good. I got a lot of experience and a big confidence boost for sure, not to mention 5 upgrade points. 11 more to go! The crit was really a stand out performance with the 3 of us communicating in the race and running up in the front. When you have guys coming up to you after, giving you props for stringing it out, you know your doing something right…..

I’m ready to race……


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