Let me preface this by saying that I hate driving more than 2 hours to any race just because it just takes so much out of you, mentally. If you’re heading out with someone else, or have a working radio, maybe it’s not so bad, but I have yet to experience the latter, so I can’t comment to it. I haven’t touched the road bike since Tuesday, and didn’t quite know what to expect. On the plus side, I had been doing stair sessions and mixing it up with some hill sprints, so I was optimistic that it might just be okay. I just didn’t want to get dropped.
I arrived in Seaside with more than an hour to spare before the E4 race began. The weather couldn’t have been any nicer – clear, sunny skies with a cool breeze. After warming up a bit, I rolled to the line. There seemed to be around 25 guys at the line, maybe less than last week, but I could be wrong. The whistle blew, and we were off. Unlike last week, the first lap pushed the pace right off the bat. And it didn’t let up.
The next few laps were ridden at more or less the same intensity: pretty damn fast. I tried to stick good wheels on the false flats, and was lucky not to have gotten dropped off hard. As the race continued, fatigue began to settle in, and riders fell off the back of the group. With just two laps left to race, riders at the front jumped the pace on the initial false flat and formed a rift between the head and tail of the group. Things came back together, but shortly thereafter, two riders launched an attack on the backside rollers. They were slowly reeled back in and caught on the descent. Just one more lap to go.
As the pace increased on the the false flat once more, a collision occurred between two riders. I’m still not quite sure what happen, but from the looks of it, one guy seemed like he cross wheels with the other guy. They both went down and the field split once more. I was caught behind it all, and slowed down to a complete stop because the guy next to me was already at the edge of the road. A slew of insults car from one of the downed riders and two of us basically yelled out it wasn’t too big of a deal, and for him to chill out – neither of them seemed injured. And my chances of not getting dropped went out the window.
Or maybe not…I saw Vital about 5 seconds ahead of me. There were 3 guys chasing the head of the race, maybe 10-15 guys at this point. I thought I could make the gap to Vital at least, so I went all in. I bridged up to him, hoping we could work together to catch the chasing trio, but he dropped off my wheel a couple moments later. Right hander to the backside rollers – I could see them up ahead, the trio made contact with the back of the remaining group of guys. I felt like absolute trash, but kept pressing on, hoping could snag a wheel soon. And as the road crested, I saw my opportunity for one last brief effort to latch onto the last wheel of the group. I made it up to them, holy f#$%.
The pace was unrelenting, everyone was fighting for a spot, everyone knew the field was more than half as small as in the beginning of the race. As the descent came, I tucked in the back, hoping to recover a bit before the dash to the line. I was boxed in coming towards the finish but managed to pass 2 guys dangling off the back. So maybe top 10? I have no idea, I’m just stoked I was able to bridge the gap and finish with the front group.
Writing/typing on a phone is kind of difficult. I think I’ll take a nap, now. And eat.
(I’m now at home, thank goodness traffic wasn’t too bad on the way back up to the city!). The details of the E3/4 race at Central Coast Circuit #4 are a bit hazy. I guess a lot of things came into play once the race started – the field size was much bigger than the E4 race, the guys were faster, and my legs were tired. Naveen, Jason, and Kevin (BRITEsport) made it out and were doing a double race day, as well. I was just hoping to be able to finish the race, not get dropped, and not get caught up in an accident.
So, after a brief talk from the race official, the race was off. The field appeared to be twice as big as the E4 race (which turned out to be 21 people deep). As expected, the first lap was taken with a bit of care, everyone was warming up to the race. But as soon as we passed the finish line for the first time, the pace quickened. And we still had 5 laps left to race. I snagged wheels as best I could, but once the laps started ticking down, the attacks off the front began. The pace surged on the false flats and, most of the time, on the backside rollers. People were hurting, flying off the back lap after lap. Hell, I was hurting, but trying to hold on. Gaps began forming when guys lost contact with the wheel in front of them – it was a fight just to pass and snag another one, and it always seemed to be a couple bike lengths out of reach. It seemed as if everyone in the back half of the group was riding on their limits.
There was someone off the front at almost every occasion, and if there wasn’t someone off the front, the pace was kept fast so no one attacked. But as soon as the pace dropped, someone shot out from the side, barreling into the wind, usually alone. With 2 laps left to race, on the back side rollers, a rift came between the head of the race, and the remaining riders in the group – about 6 guys had a couple bike lengths on the 20 or so people, me included, and everyone started frantically shifting to gain enough speed to bridge up to the front. In the meantime, more people dropped off the back, unable to maintain pace at the crest of the top of the rollers.
Somehow, I managed to hang on, and with only 1 lap remaining, things were looking okay – not really good or bad. The backside rollers saw everyone at their limit once more, but soon, the majority of the suffering was over, and we were all flying down towards the final right hander towards the line. I managed to pass a couple people to land somewhere in the back half of the finishing group.
I’m completely toasted, but happy I was able to stick it out. 2 races in 1 day, and I wasn’t dropped, even when hitting a dead stop from the accident in front of me. Looking back, racing is great for getting out of your comfort zone, but now that it’s over, I just want to have an easy day tomorrow!