Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bars Bumping

Yeah not so much on the clubbing front, but on the bike racing scene. The announcer at most of the So. Cal events is Ralph Elliot of MGE. On the final sprint for the finish as the peleton rounds the last corner and the racers are ramping up for the sprint he has this super silly quote and I can't use it as a direct quote as it's almost impossible to hear what he is saying:

"Elbows brushing, bars bumping, lycra stretching, knees bopping, and we got a sprint going on here folks!" in this accelerating voice. I know it's not an exact quote, but it's close. And it really describes what happens as the craziness of a sprint finish develops.

Three weeks ago I went up to LA with Lynne who hadn't raced in a while for the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix. It was an interesting course and a bit narrow. I've been used to the wide open spaces of Ontario and got lucky at Brentwood on a narrower technical course so I wasn't sure what to expect. A nice field of Cat 3/4 women but a whole lotta breaking going on through the cornering. The final turn goes into a rounding false flat "uphill [not really]" section to the finish line. There wasn't a really good opportunity to try for a break but I tried anyway to no avail. A couple of other failed brake attempts by other teams [and one attempt at blocking - which is totally legal and I even complimented the girl] but nothing stuck.

Great, it was going to come down to a sprint finish and no one wanted to pull the last lap. I was sitting like 10 wheels back going into the final corner and knew I'd have my work cut out for me. Should've started sooner but I mis-judged how long the final stretch was [thought it was longer] and stood too late. Had to sneak up on the inside, but then found myself in trouble.

Bars bumping. Serious elbow brushing. Unfortunately, one of the riders [well known for lack of handling skills] veered super duper to the right and cut off another rider [Patricia] and myself. Think Mark Renshaw head butting:

Okay, not that blatant, because she probably did it without knowing, but it wasn't nice. And she wasn't the lead out man. Meanwhile I'm trying desperately to come up the inside and Patricia is as well. A spectator had his legs sticking out into the road off the curb while I was literally riding up the curb gutter. Thank goodness he jumped out of the way. I cannot believe we didn't take each other out. I was hanging onto my bars for dear life [evidence from forearm bruises the next day from riding in the drops] and throw my bike across the line.

 Coming up the inside, just before the girl in the center veers towards Patricia and I.

With the throw, I managed to edge out the "swerver." 3rd place. I still cannot believe Patricia and I stayed up.

Best podium yet? Maybe. $50 cash and a straight from the cooler, ice cold, Pyramid Hef.

Two weekends ago I was off to Ontario for my last women's cat 4 race. I had enough points to upgrade after Brentwood, but I wanted to finish out the season up in Ontario. 3:45am wake up calls aren't so awesome, however. Drove up there [without sherpa who was out to sea] got in a decent warmup and headed out for my last 30 min crit. No more faking it when I start racing with the big girls.

This race was different that the other 4 times that I've been up there. Not in the sense of scenery or course [as I've done that course 2 other times] but in the way I felt going into the race. I had confidence. I felt like I was stepping onto the starting blocks of a high school dual swim meet. I guess that's what racing and doing well will do to someone.

The pace was faster than before at Ontario, which made me less nervous, and surprisingly less tired. [I guess I do gain some fitness with all this racing.] My HR was in check for most of the race. One of the primes was a points prime and I went for it way too late, putting in a lot of "almost effort", like not enough to blow up, but just enough to not win. Lost the prime by half a bike and urged the girl to come with me as we had a natural break from the field. Quarter of a lap later, I look back and she's gone and the field is approaching. So much for the break.

I hop back into the field and no one wants to pull. So after a break I'm now leading the pack. Not optimal as I'd rather be resting [drafting] but if no one wants to work, fine I'll sit in front and go the pace I want to go [slow.] Thoughts:

[I cannot wait to upgrade.]

That scenario [I assume] wont happen again. If you start to slow, you'll drop back and the riders to the outside will circle around and life is complete. Or rather the usual cycling of riders and the constant effort to stay near the front and work your way up the sides. All this trying for breaks, break caught, no passing scenario must have to stop at some point.

Anyway, 2 laps to go and I'm sitting 3rd wheel, which I manage to stay in until the final corner on the last lap. I made the mistake of going too late in the previous race, and wasn't going to do that again. So I punch it and I'm gone. I slightly let up as I cross the finish line and learned a lesson [not the hard way] as the junior girl went blowing past me, luckily just after the finish line. Lesson: Don't let up! Everyone knows this! You cannot cruise your way to the finish ever again. All out. Balls out. No letting up until past the finish line. Again, luckily it went my way and the lead was great enough, but seriously. that was really bad on me.
Me sitting up as the junior girl on the left charging. 

Won my last cat4 race, and ended up 2nd in the Ontario Points Series. [6 race series throughout the season]
So I put in my upgrade request, which I think included 29 points or something of the sort. It was accepted, so I decided to race last Sunday at San Clemente with the big girls. A women pro 1-3 race. Yikes. Serious goal? Hang on for 2 laps. Super secret goal? Finish.

Race report to follow.

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