Today was the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. I went into this race feeling fresh and attempted to do all the right steps in the events leading up to the race. I did a harder ride on Monday, took it easy up until Thursday where the team had a training ride at a gentlemen’s pace. Needless to say I had one too many drinks that same night and spent half of Friday trying to get my head to stop spinning. Saturday I relaxed and stretched for most of the day, got a decent nights sleep and proceeded to the race this morning.
I didn’t have much time to warm up but managed to do some more stretching before the race. The first thirty minutes of the race were a nauseating hammer-fest. One by one, riders started falling off the back of the race due to the swift pace right from the beginning. There were crashes on the inside and outside of the second turn (on the same lap,) which I avoided without falling myself. The race continued by slowing down a tremendous amount, followed by accelerating back up to speed out of each turn. I know I could have taken the turns at a faster pace, but didn’t really know how to go about it being next to so many people. There was an opportunity to advance in the pack on the straight before the last turn, and when the final five lap card came up, I began to make my move towards the middle/ front of the pack. With one lap to go, the inside of the same straight was very crowded and teams began to wind up the pace once again into the near 180 degree turn. I managed to stay with the pack and get a top 25-ish result. Given that I felt like throwing up for the majority of the race, this (and will always be) a humbling experience for me. Now time for my reflection.
There were a few teams who set the fast pace at the beginning of the race. They did a great job at keeping it quick and separating the weak from the strong riders. This caused the mid to rear of the field to accordion due to what I can presume is from riders hitting the brakes harder than those teams out in front setting the pace. This is the only thing I can think of that would result in the way the race turned out from my perspective. As far as the crashes were concerned, I noticed riders cutting in from their middle position to the inside position on the turn, not holding their own line and getting in someone elses way. This happened all throughout the race and kept me on edge. I am glad I was feeling fresh today since I was able to keep up with all of the accelerations and drop other riders. My explosive, fast-twitch acceleration could use some work, but so could a number of things (like my diet.) I saw myself paying attention to a number of more experienced riders and trying to follow their lines which ended up being on the more outer sides of the road. This was helpful in some parts of the race, but when approaching a turn, a lot of riders like to swing out to the outer corner of the turn, making it stressful for riders who were already there in the first place.
So if there is a way to take all that has been said and somehow combine it in such a way, that would best summarize my race experience. It felt pretty good seeing familiar faces, then seeing them eventually drop out of the race because they were fatigued. Despite my results (which will always have room for improvement) this let me know all hope was not lost for me. This is embarrassing to admit, but there were more times than I care to admit where I wanted to throw in the towel. This requires mental strength and discipline as well as physical attributes and race tactics.
That does it for me. Another forty minutes of anaerobic racing with the rubber side kept down the entire time. I have the rest of the day to myself and will see where the wind takes me.