Sunday, March 28, 2010

Warnerville RR - E3 Race Report

Leading up to this race there were indications from teammates and friends around how this race could easily turn into one long death march if the conditions were "normal". You know, that typical central valley breeze that likes to blow hard and steady and push people over into the gutter. Today wasn't normal...nor should I forget to mention the gravel.

The start was delayed due to some tragic happenings out on the course ( Sad to hear the news and hopefully they'll be something to memorialize the memory of the young man.

With the delayed start it allowed all of us to warm up just a bit. No wind and the sun soon warmed us up and cause the embrocation on my legs to fire up real quick. At the start the refs informed us we'd be racing with the P/1/2 field; this was going to change the dynamics just a bit (or so we thought...). Having the largest team in the pack was a nice as it's not too often to have this luxury.

Off we rolled and about 3 miles into the race Odi takes off with one of the Webcor P/1/2 guys and gets a good gap. They were off the front for next 10 miles or so and were swallowed up right before the gravel section (1.4 miles long).

I coasted into the gravel near the rear of the pack and soon realized the gravel wasn't too hard and there were some pretty soft spots. After catching a rock on the bridge of my nose and finding the bottom of some potholes, I found a line and got through the trauma. Whew, survived without losing any bottles or busted cranks.

After a quick regroup by the pack another attack of around 5 guys went up the road. We had Ramon in this break and it allowed us to sit in and let some of the other teams manage the distance between the hunted and the hunter. Ramon's break was caught on lap 2 immediately after going through the gravel section a second time.

Like clockwork another break went up the road. This time Kenny managed to get into the mix. Meanwhile, Johannes, Ryan and I sat in again while others shut down the break. About a mile from the gravel the break was about to be caught and I turned to Johannes and said we should lead the chasers through this rough stretch of road and keep the pace real high. The last of the break was caught just before we finished the gravel section.

With fifty miles in and just over a lap to go guys were starting to feel the fatigue. Funny how you pick up on the little things while racing: the pounding of fists on their quad to shake them loose from the eventual cramp, the need to get more water when they're already carrying two full bottles in your back pocket. Little stuff like that...

Heading into the final lap we had myself, Kenny and Johannes keeping things high on the front. We came through the mini-hill of a feed zone and a few folks picked up bottles. After cresting and passing through the zone there's a gradual descent. Combined with an ever increasing breeze from behind I decided to roll the dice. Our tactic was to keep Johannes and I around for some last lap antics.

I hit the gas on the descent and soon found Johannes on my wheel and us catching a bunch of water-drinking racers at a decision point. Do we chase again and let SJBC do nothing but pack surf? That's probably not what people were thinking, at least the one brave soul that decided to bridge across. I gotta hand it to the Wells Fargo rider who came across; Johannes and I were pulling nearly 30mph.

A bridge effort like that puts years on a rider. Our WF friend had to sit in quite a few rotations before he was able to help, and even then it wasn't much. But given his stature he was able to give me a pretty good draft. With about seven miles to go he threw in the towel and relegated himself coming in third. We passed a few fields yelling "On your left..." with much vigor.

Meanwhile, we decided to take it pretty easy heading into our final pass over the gravel. Apparently that message didn't reach from my brain to my body. Coming into the first 90* right turn I had too much speed and found my front wheel angled at 45* and my bike going straight without turning I was able to unclip and stay up until my foot slipped. I fell doing about 3~4mph and quickly remounted. In the commotion of all of this I found that my chain wouldn't get back onto the big ring.

While looking down I lost attention and realized I was going into the ditch. Uh-oh, I didn't want to pull a "Zamora" where a few 35+ 4's went flying over their bars while ditch riding to miss a nasty crash. I put my weight back and just coasted to a stop. Amazing how weeds and natural grasses work as a brake. I scrambled back up to the road, remounted and looked back. In hot pursuit was a strung out pack of riders. In my adrenalized state I thought it was our field, but only after looking back a few minutes later after getting away from them I realized it was the 45+ field we had recently passed.

Soon back on the pavement we kept the pace high with the WF in tow. With all the effort my legs were starting to feel the pain. On a punchy big-ring climb about 1.5 miles from the finish I stood to get over the top and found both quads on the verge of cramping. It didn't help that when I fell the right pedal caught the back of my calf and brought on a cramp there too.

With 500 meters to go the WF rider slipped off our break. Johannes and I took in the pleasure of executing our tactics to perfection and getting to the line together. I cross the line in first with Johannes producing a big grin in second. I can't say enough about the team effort that was put forth by everybody. Minutes later Ryan came across and cleaned up by taking the field sprint with a nice leadout from Kenny.

All in all it was a pretty great day and one that ranks up there with some other epic racing experiences.

1 comment:

Rick Morgan said...

Great report and a great result, nothing like winning with class with a team mate! Hope to enjoy the same success with you at the Chico Stage Race!