This passed Saturday I took a mini bike road trip to Los Olivos California. My two good friends Troy & Rob carpooled to race bikes in a road race entitled “Poor college kids road race”. It felt like about 81 miles away from my neighborhood. We all left Friday night, and raced Saturday morning around 9:30am. One of the many pleasures of yesterday was seeing all of my good cycling friends out in the same remote location I was for the same reason as I. One really feels a universal sense of comradery when you see your friends in such a strange location so early in the day without even mentioning that you will be at that same place.
The three of us rode a very smart race through communicating & working together to conserve as much energy for all of us. Seeing as this our first road race for the few of us, I felt almost like a tourist throughout the first half of it. I was admiring the scenery, & learning to establish comfort & dominance in a tight-knit group of riders. That being said, I really got a kick out of literally bumping elbows with fellow racers. The typical impression after such contact has happens is to back of on your speed and wait for another opportunity to go ahead; I never held back. As often as I do evening rides with friends, I feel a sense of familiarity when riding close with others. The key is to keep your arms loose so when someone does bump into you, you do not run into the person to the left of you. You are able to absorb most of the force and recover easier with loose limbs.
The first half of our course was to a certain spot, then an immediate turn-around followed by heading back the same way your came back to the start. That being said, none of the racers began to pick up the pace until after the turn-around. As Rob mentioned after the race, “Road racing is more of a chess match….” To keep the chess metaphor fresh, the real crucial moves were not placed until the last 10 miles of our race. As we approached the last real climb, I felt really well & decided to take the lead and put a real effort in hopes to be the first up the hill. This plan worked out, for the first part of the hill. The sad part was that everyone forgot that there was a second part of the hill & it was at that exact moment that I began to fall apart. I began being passed by tens of riders and I could not push myself anymore than I already was to get up and over the hill. Thankfully Troy was shortly behind & kept me motivated to make it up all the way to the crest. After having made it up the hill was the highlight of the day.
In an act to catch the group that passed me on the uphill, the racers who I was with decided we were going to put all of our effort in bridging this gap towards the front pack. Thankfully the terrain was more downhill & easier to hit at a faster pace. I am told we hit speeds of 35 to 40mph and I can believe it because my insides felt like they were now my outsides as I was pulling multiple times to catch everyone in front. I don’t think I have pushed myself that hard before yet & just when I thought I had no energy to keep up the pace I set, someone would come in front of me and surge towards our group further up. I gave it everything I had to stay on everyone’s wheel, recover & then pull again. After those agonizing pulls, we were successful in catching the front group.
Once we caught up to everyone else, I was able to recover (only enough to finish the race in a good position) and keep up the hot tempo we all set. One of the more unfortunate matters of the race was the final ninety degree turn into the uphill finish. Everyone must have been too brain-dead from the race to call out the remaining turns. Thankfully no one crashed, but I did have to pick up my 20+ mph pace from nearly coming to a complete stop. This really took a lot out of my legs, but, it is sadistic & excruciating pains like these that separate the men from the boys. I was able to finish in 10th place out of 50 riders & I can honestly say it is a result I am proud of.
We all raced smart, worked together, and did the best we possibly could, given our circumstances at the race. Once the race was over, we took a glance at our results, and hit the road heading back home.
Another great aspect of the race was the scenic drive back. Since we head out for Los Olivos in the evening Friday night, I had no idea of the great views we passed until we drove home in the daylight. Nothing but green mountain ranges & ocean views.
I really love what racing has shown me so far. I want to keep up with the progression I have made & strive to be the most successful. There is a good chance I will be registering for a race in San Diego this Sunday with hopes to get top 10 once again. Just today I did a recover ride with my now teammates around Los Angeles which although hurt a lot, I felt was necessary.
I do not see myself doing any serious rides tomorrow, but will be riding later in the week. Stay strong my friends, the results are very rewarding.