Hello race fans! Welcome to this dork's 2010 road racing season opener (and extremely long report - but I can't help myself).
First a word from our sponsor, Exogen Bone Healing Systems! Seriously, that little gizmo has brought my left hand right up with my right hand and has made a noticeable difference. Also helping things out is that I have not been on the road for two weeks. It felt really good to feel the road under my wheels after two weeks of making sweat puddles in the garage. Of course, the doctor clearly told me to keep my riding safe and free of crash-risk but I'm a dumb bike-racer, not a china doll.
The reason I couldn't resist this race is that it is a home race for me on a road that I ride pretty often. On top of that advantage I'm fairly certain I am the ONLY guy who drives Del Puerto canyon to get to Patterson (it's only about an hour from my house). Driving down I got a good feel for the giant puddles, gravel, mud and wetness left in the road after seven straight days of rain.
Once I got to Patterson and was getting registered I looked to the West and saw... big heavy looking rain clouds. Hmm, what happened to the forecast for no rain today??? There were so many 35+ cat 4/5's that they opened up a second field. As a result, my start time of 8:30 got moved to 9:00. As we were finding this out a light, but steady, rain began to fall. Guys did laps around the parking lot waiting but I said, "screw that!" and got back into the car until 5 minutes to go. I switched to full-on waterproof rain booties and that was the best decision I made all day since my feet were the only thing dry by the end.
At the line, the rain let up but I was starting to get a case of the shivers as I said a hello to Tim, who was officiating. As much as we may feel some sense of drama or whatever for getting wet and muddy in a bike race, I think standing in the rain helping put on the race is much more noble. Once we were rolling, I warmed up just right and was fine the rest of the day.
The race itself was a wet and muddy roostertail-fest. My bike afterwards had a coating of grit on every possible surface. As far as the action. It was manageable to the bottom of the climb, just like last year. I did my best to climb without blowing up and was 17th wheel at the turnaround. The descent was fast but I took it pretty conservative. The rest of the race back to the finish line was a hard hammerfest on the rivet picking up and dropping riders as we rolled through the wet and muddy road.
By the time we hit the rollers coming into the finish we had regrown to a little pack of about ten riders and my headcount had us racing for about 10th place. I misjudged the finish and worked way too hard with about a mile and a half to go. When the 1km sign came up I was on the front and working too hard. I backed off, tried to recover and only gave a half-hearted sprint to finish 4th or 5th in our group.
Final result was 13th of 34. I'm really quite pleased with that. Beyond the fun (seriously, not being facetious here) of racing in the crappy conditions, I was quite happy with that. After two months off the bike then another two months after that of not riding on the road I'm very happy with that, in fact. I think I've re-learned the benefit of trainer and roller riding as a 100% substitute for getting on the road and it certainly helps to be another ten pounds lighter than this same time a year ago.
So now no racing for awhile. There aren't really any compelling races (to me) in February so I'll just get back on the no-risk riding plan which means lots more rollers and trainer riding and getting on the road on the weekends.
I'm kind of torn on doing race reports this year. Some races inspire some really fun writing (like the sonora road race last year) and in others I just bore myself to death or feel like I'm glorifying my own mediocre rides (can you say, Roy's updating his brog again?). But I guess all writing is practice. It's kind of like mountain climbing. Sometimes you reach the peak and sometimes, you don't even get to see the top. But if you don't climb at all, you'll never get anywhere. And as Kris just said to me when describing my trepidations, "A life lived in fear is a life half lived."