Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pescadero RR

In the master plan starting out earlier this year when I laid out what races I wanted to do, Pesky was going to be my last race after a busy May/June schedule of RR's and crits. But a change in plans was set in motion with the back injury so my initial goals for this race were modified. I love this course as it has a bit of everything. Hills, flats, fast descents and a high level of pain.

I approached this race differently since my fitness was off about 30% from last year and I was no where near where I wanted to be at least to be competitive. Last year I hung with the lead pack all the way to the base of Haskins on the final climb, delivering a teammate some well timed rest on my wheel the entire way up Hwy 84 before he launched his attack and claimed the victory on the hill (still one of my top 5 racing highlights). This year my goal was to hang with the lead group for as long as possible and then ride tempo the rest of the way in. Listening to my body/back was top priority as it was a year ago on this same course where the initial L4/L5 injury took place.

The start was rather mellow and the two climbs on Stage Road saw me toward the back. I purposely rode there as I wanted just to chill out as much as possible and suck wheels to conserve energy. Not my usual style of riding (I like to be at the front), but I really wanted to see how long I could hang. We hit Haskins for the first time and the lead group slowly pulls away (see photo above). Steve Woo was next to me for the rest of the climb and we and several others crested together. On the way down a few fast guys decided to try and catch the lead group, so I hopped on. Sorry Woo-ster, I was looking forward to riding the rest of the way with you, but I couldn't pass up hooking onto the Dolce Vita train (another Steve who's got a nice big draft like me).

Our group of five soon grew to about 10 as we caught more riders. Eventually about seven miles from the top of the hill as we were getting back to the Butano cut-off we caught the lead pack. They weren't going too hard, so it was nice to hang out at the back and take inventory. The legs were definitely tired, due to only the last two weeks of training. The lungs felt fine and the back, which I was most concerned about going into the race, was fatigued. Fatigued in a good way, not in a bad way which would have led to a re-aggravation of the original injury.

Coming up to the sprint point area after riding through the town of Pescadero the pace started to pick up. As it did, my body started to speak volumes to me about what I couldn't do. Very quickly my legs started to feel heavy and unresponsive, my HR didn't get up quickly as it usually does when I pick up the pace. It was if my body was saying, "Todd, great job on hanging with the lead pack for 31 miles. It's time for you to shut it down and get across the finish line in one piece."

Luckily for me I've decided to listen better to my body. As I watched the lead pack pull up the first Stage Road climb I cycled through my data on my PT computer unit. It had been a solid 31 miles of effort and the best test of my capabilities since getting back on the bike. I was happy to accomplish this goal.

Next goal was to finish, which soon was realized. I rolled down to the start area with several teammates and found out that one of our guys won the race (M35+ 4/5). Pretty cool to see a SJBC guy win this same category/race for the second year in a row. Same thing happened earlier in the year with my Cantua win as well. At the car I took my time and made sure I gave myself plenty of time to stretch and cool down. This helped greatly as my back was feeling really good. Sure it was tired, but in a good and painless way. Another goal achieved.

My result of coming in 42nd doesn't look like much on paper, but when I look back and realize what it's taken to get here, it's all good.

On a side note, I found it highly amusing that several friends of mine in the M35+ group came up to me and said they were entertained by keeping track of my progress through this blog. Nice to see that folks are reading away. The best comment was from a guy who hadn't seen me at a race in a long time. He asked if I was going to go all "Cantua on us..." out there. Nope, there was no plan to go off the front for 23 miles at Pesky for the win. I'm saving that kind of effort for something later in the year!

1 comment:

CyclistRick said...

Finishing is a good goal. That is what I kept telling myself for that long, solo tempo ride. Interesting to hear what happened after I did my exit to the rear.