Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chico Crit Race Report

Place High-teens
Category: 35+ Masters 3/4
Race: Chico Downtown Criterium
Team Mates: Steven, Jonathan, Bruce
Field Size: 40+
Conditions: Hot and windy

After racing in the Henleyville RR the day before, it was nice to hang out in Chico the rest of Saturday and enjoy the town. After a fun dinner with Steven and Jonathan at a local Thai restaurant and a good night of sleep, I was ready for a hot day of racing. My racing didn't start until 2pm. Nothing like a lazy morning in Chico to get things started (and a plug for Cafe Coda...best breakfast spot in town).

I set the family up under the shade in the plaza near the start/finish line. Lots of other racers were doing the same thing and it was a great atmosphere for racing. After some brief time on the trainer, I did a few laps on the course. One corner had the nastiest rain drain I had ever seen. It must have sunk a good two feet! If you cut that corner you\'d be launched off your bike into the exit of the corner from the apex. Definitely a line that nobody tried to take willingly in the race.

The race started off fast and stayed that way. A couple of laps into the race the first prime was called (two deep). I was in the top 5 coming into the next to last corner and so I put in a hard dig to get to the last corner first. With that successfully accomplished I was able to nab the prime. A quick glance back and I had a gap, so we all know what that means ;)

I kept the gas on and probably did about 3 laps out by my lonesome self. I know was hurting and I was hoping my teammates were helping me back with the pack (Steven must have been hurting because in his oxygen-depleted race report he completely forgot I had rolled off the front solo). As I started to eventually slow, a Chico Corsa rider bridged across. He was pushing a big gear and I was having trouble sticking on his wheel.

A few laps later another guy made it across. I was cross-eyed at this point due to the heat of the afternoon, the solo effort and the dead legs from the road race the day before. I held on for a few more laps, but I ended up popping off the back. In retrospect I should have sat out a few pulls, but logic is defied when the door of the pain cave is closed and everything around you turns dark.

I slowly drifted back to the pack and saw that the rest of the SJBC crew had been shelled. There were some Chico guys on the front keeping the pace reasonable. Every now and then guys would try to push the pace, but there wasn't any great amount of teamwork between teams to pull the break back.

With about three laps to go I put in another hard dig to bridge up to three guys off the front of the pack. However, they pretty much gave up their effort as I rolled past them. So once again here I am in no-man's land. This lasted only another lap and a half before I was tracked back down. I surfed the back of the pack as the final two laps were ridden at a fast pace. I was happy to cross the line and be done.

In retrospect I probably could have, and should have ridden a bit differently in the break. As noted by Steven in our post-race chat, it's sometimes not until you\'re in the pressure of the moment that these opportunities of learning present themselves on the bike. This is not something you learn on a training ride or at our Tuesday night rides. It's what you do the next time this happens that defines whether or not you've learned from your past experiences.

As my final race of 2009 I can say I've learned a ton this season and can't wait to see how 2010 plays out.


Anonymous said...

I was in the same race and I have to hand it to you for that effort. I was suprised when you came back to the field. Hindsight is always 20/20 but you had been out there a long time solo in tough conditions. You earned the right to take a break. Good job at taking a risk...it's what the racing is all about.

Manley Man said...

Thanks! I'd rather take a risk and see if it pays off rather than sit in and do nothing.