Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Its Not About the Race

Last Saturday was the UCLA road race in Pearblossom, CA. It was about half the driving distance as the previous road races this year and it was nice to leave my house when the sun was already up instead of an hour before it thinks about coming up. I feel like this route through San Bernadino in becoming more common to me.
When I got there I checked in, got my number and went back to the car to get dressed and warmed up. I brought my trainer to warm up on, but the road looked pretty nice to warm up on and Tim and Justin from Bike Religion didn't bring trainers so I rode with them to warm up.
Our race started at 9:30 am. About 1/2 a mile from the start the big long climb began. It was a 2.6 mile climb averaging 6% grade! I stayed with the group up the hill. On the descent my legs felt stiff and it was hard to get them to flow. They weren't really tired, just locked up. The downhill descent wasn't very twisty and nobody was being jumpy downhill. It was very mellow. The last 5 miles back were pretty flat. There wasn't much wind either which made for a nice ride. On the second lap, going up the climb I started to fall back. I probably could have held on but I didn't want to fry myself and I thought I would get back on the descent because the field went down it pretty mellow the first time. Well that didn't work out. From then on I was chasing, about a minute behind the rest of the race. Another rider and I worked together for a while. After a few miles he dropped off. I kept catching up to riders and passing, only to find out that they were chicks from the Women's field. Still that kept me inspired that I was passing someone. On the long straight stretch leading back towards the finish I could see the field and I thought I was catching them. I probably came within 30 seconds at one point, but then lost that again on the climb. Third and last lap to go. When I got down the descent and turned east I could see the chase field behind me. There were probably 15 guys in it. I was motivated to stay away from them. I didn't want them to catch me and couldn't stand placing any lower than I already was. I knew that if they caught me I'd have little chance in the final sprint. The short climb into the finish came and they had gained a little on me. Now there was a break of 3 riders coming after me. I kept the power on and crossed the finish line about 50 feet ahead of me. I placed 28th. I had hoped for at least a mass finish, but that didn't happen. Even the lead group was pretty spread out. 1st place finisher Tim Eaton crossed the line about 50 yards ahead of second and just rolled across. The rest of the field was scattered. The tough climbs certainly showed who could climb well. This race felt more like a ride than a race because there was so much climbing and people were very aggressive. Everyone stayed calm and didn't make crazy moves.
For now I am going to take a break from races for a few weeks. I need to get out on the Saturday Canyon Velo long ride and put in some strong effort there. A problem with racing is that your training and mileage can suffer. Its only February and I want to be ready for States in June. For me cycling isn't just about racing. Most importantly its about having fun, making friends and enjoying their camaraderie, and stayed fit and healthy. The Saturday ride is one of my favorites in cycling, and I'm going to enjoy that for a now. In March I'll do the annual Solvang Century. That is my favorite ride and a ritual that I don't miss. Its more significant than a race, and we ride it like a race, because to me a fast 100 mile ride is more than a 45 mile race. Its tougher and more meaningful to me.
I'm an athlete, I'm a racer, but training must come first.
Happy tail winds, see you out there!

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