Sunday, February 23, 2014

UC Santa Cruz Road Race, Elite 4/5 First Place!

The home course. The climb that is my commute to work. The same hill we negotiate every Tuesday night. 10 times. This race was definitely one I wanted to do well in!

My initial worries of this mostly collegiate race being not well attended in the open category were not founded at all, as about 40 open cat 4/5 racers lined up at the start. Earlier in the day, an similarly large field raced the P123 race (in between my babysitting duties I had time to come out briefly and support Nils and Mark who were in that race, and to take a couple of pics, see below).

Mark and Nils in the P123 race
Mark and Nils in the P123 race
10 laps is a fair number, but not large, and I thought it would be to my advantage to set a decent pace and tire out my competitors'  legs early on. After a first lap when I was reminded why I want to upgrade quickly (some crazy scary squirrely action at the fast turn before the climb) I went to the front and put out a decent pace up the next 3-4 laps. A group of 5-6 riders stuck with me, until at I think lap 5 a Derek Unland, recent Cal Poly graduate from San Luis Obispo, put in a strong attack at the base of the climb. I stuck to his wheel, and he attacked again around the finish line area. At that point Eddie Santos (who was watching the race and passing water bottles to me - thanks Eddie!) informed me that the guys back were working hard and that we had a gap. Derek and I then pushed it downhill and pushed again up. After one lap we had 45" over the chasers, and after the second lap more than 1'15". Enough to really loose sight of the pack, which is always good.

Before the start, in the UCSC team kit
Leading the pack
The race was then a two-men story. We decided to work together and take it easy until the last lap. We then agreed that the game was on at the base of the next-to-last lap. Derek still looked strong, and was staying at the front. At this point, since the game was officially on, I didn't feel compelled to take the wind at the front, and I let him work, tried to relax, and waited for the last climb to start. I was expecting Derek to put out a big effort at the base of the climb, just like he had done on lap 5. But he didn't. He instead shifted down to the small chainring and chugged up. Shortly thereafter, I started spinning up, and saw Derek's shadow getting further and further back. I then started to really kick, with the finish line now in sight. He didn't try to stay on my wheel, and I crossed the finish line with a fair margin.

on Derek's wheel
Final effort just before the finish line!
An awesome race, I am so thankful to the UCSC kids for doing such a great jobs and supporting me throughout all 10 laps! I'm also very grateful to my wife, who came out with our two boys to support me. My son Alex was really excited and it was great to hear him cheer me up with his favorite cow bell!

The lesson learned for me was to remain mentally positive throughout the race. When Derek first attacked, I was doubting myself and the thought that he was going to take the race was looming on my mind. So I started to massage my thoughts and talk myself into believing I was going to get him and that I was the better climber etc. I guess in the end it worked…

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an amazing racer you're becoming! I predict that you'll be hitting cat 2 very shortly. No joke.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.