This morning a good friend of mine and I piled our bikes into my car and ventured on out from one hot valley into another hot valley for a day of road racing.
Our drive there was quick and painless. The grapevine is a lot steeper of a hill than what I remember. Having gotten there well in advance, we had time to get our things and to get a head start on the overheating and dancing with mild heat stroke. It was refreshing to see some familiar faces I hadn’t seen since the last race I participated in.
Our race began roughly around noon, where my Garmin read roughly around 42 degrees Celsius. My goals for today were:
- Not to die of heat stroke
- To ride the majority of the race at a pace not dictated for me
- To have fun
I managed two out of the three and ended up getting dropped from the main pack within the first ten kilometers. Normally this would be enough for me to call it quits, but that was not the case today. Multiple things were going on through my head when the break began. At first I thought that the pack were not going to be able to hold this pace for that long and that I would end up reeling people in and making my way back to the group. Long story short, I was wrong. I still managed to reel a few riders in which lead to a series of events that took place, thereby achieving my third goal.
Once I adjusted to the heat (and winds blowing in multiple directions) I began to pass other riders. I planned ahead by putting chia seeds in my bottles which I filled half with electrolytes and the other with water. I have never consumed so much water during a ride in my entire cycling career. Two of my three bottles I brought were consumed by the first hour of the ride. I took every hand-up I could get my dry hands on. Half was drank, the other was poured over my salty body.
As the race continued, I came across a few riders that had fallen off the pack like myself. Some had no desire to latch on to my wheel and try and work together to possibly catch the group, others took it as an opportunity. I’ve been riding in the heat for a while now and find that I respond better in extreme heats than extreme cold (my tongue doesn’t go numb, and my head hurts a little less in the heat. Plus my legs respond better in the heat than that numb feeling muscles get when cold.) Some pulled a fair amount, and others stuck on my wheel. I practiced my technique for getting rid of wheel suckers (which worked like a charm.)
Despite the heat and the wind, the course of open stretches of road made the course enjoyable. I wish Los Angeles had more open stretches of road like that. I have to go all the way to Santa Claria to get roads like that.
After finishing our first lap (out of two) I came across a rider who was in a different category than I who offered to work together for an unannounced amount of time. I agreed, and we carried on. Towards the last quarter of the race, some hitchhiking racers in my category latched on and began to disrupt the flow of the pace me and this older guy were setting. One was a junior racer, another was an older more mature gentlemen who was not afraid to do some time in the wind (the junior on the other hand….) I tried getting the junior to do a little work which worked the first time, but after a few more attempts he wasn’t having it.
All of a sudden the racer in a different category found someone in his same category and proceeded to work with him. When I tried to contribute to there efforts, he responded with a loud, “Back off!” I know I’m the sensitive type, but I felt genuinely hurt by this. After working together for over a hour and to just blow me off like that came off as rude. I guess I’ve got to stop racing with my heart on my sleeve. Eventually I got the point and justified his intentions with the popular phrase I secretly loathe, “that’s bike racing.”
From there it was me and the two other category four racers. We ended up dropping those two master’s racers with about twenty kilometers to go. From there, the older gentlemen and I ended up doing most of the pulling. I knew what was going to happen. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew it was going to happen. I couldn’t think of anything else to do to try and prevent the inevitable last minute attack from happening. When the other guy was done pulling and saw that I was creating a gap, he slowed down to let us catch up (to which I shook my head at.)
With one kilometer to go, the junior jumped, and I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to match it. Not only was this rude, but it was for a finishing result over 20th place. I took the higher route and refrained from yelling at this kid at the end of the race. I was more afraid of his baseball dad father catching me and telling me, “that’s bike racing….”
As mentioned before, two out of my three goals were reached. I know my strengths and must now focus on riding at intensity. My spirit is not crushed. There will be no depressed binge drinking to follow this result. My new perspective on racing has allowed me to avoid this path of trying to forget. In addition to focusing on more riding at intensity, I will attempt to get back down to a weight I was once at towards the beginning of the year. The long term goal is to lose fifteen pounds in fifteen weeks, but I’m sure I can shave some time off that in a healthy way.
I wasn’t able to get any photos of the race, but I did manage to capture the aftermath of riding a donated tire with a skidded patch on it for over two hundred miles on top of an incredibly hot road race with twists and turns both uphill and downhill. This tire has serve it’s purpose and will be replaced sooner than later.
Mind you, this was taken after I had deflated the tire to about half the pressure I was racing it at. The bulge was pretty big and could have been disastrous. Until next time….