Sunday, June 10, 2012

Folsom Cyclebration (Troy)

June 8-10, 2012 – Folsom, CA
11m Time Trial; 35min Circuit Race

TT - 26:15 (27:25 w/late start)

20th in Omnium - 9th in TT; 26th in Crit; 22nd in Circuit

Stage 1: South Canal TT (10.7mi)
We show up Friday afternoon in Rancho Cordova for Stage 1, the South Canal TT.  It's hot.  Anna's riding her bike.  I'm helping Ariel ride hers.  My start is coming up but I want to raise my seat.  This turns into a big event.  Robin & another guy are helping me.  By the time I'm finished, it's almost go time.  I rush to the starting area, get checked in, a timing strip on my helmet and roll to the start line.  "You missed your start.  Go!"

120608_folsomcyclebration_tt_trpuI'm off.  I don't know if missing my start counts against me.  Oh well, I'll know my time, and I've got my goal: get 25mph (25:41).  I've done this course before in 24.8.  It doesn't seem that hard, it's only 10.7mi.  But soon reality sets in… going all out for 26 min is going to be very hard!

I'm already getting hot and thirsty.  I don't have water.  I figured I wouldn't need it.  I'll have to push through.  I'm motivated.  I'm working hard and feel like I'm going fast.  I see the guy ahead at 30 secs (maybe more).  Wind is behind me.  Averaging 26… 27..

It's completely flat except for 3 overpasses.  We hit 'em early on.  These are killers for my pace.  They seem small but really take an effort.  1/2 way to the turn-around and the wind is changing.  It's getting harder.  The guy ahead is no closer.  My triathlon training should help me in this event.

At the turn-around I make a clean turn and start the push for home.  My #1 guy ahead has passed #2 ahead.  And now I'm about to pass #2 as well.  I pass and he jumps into my draft and stays there.  I'm pretty sure that's not allowed.  I continue pushing hard to catch my #1 guy.  I'm breathing hard, my lungs are burning.  I'm praying that God will help keep me safe and from doing any harm to myself.  I should've carried water.  I'll be sure to warn Robin.

I'm really happy to see 25mph average!  I'm going to do it, finally!  I catch #1 guy with only 1/2 mile to go, going over the final hill.  But the wind is in our face and coupled with the hill… my average is now going down.. 24.8… 24.7...

I'm pushing as hard as I can and as much as I want to sprint, there just isn't anything left in the legs.  My lungs are burning.  I'm focused on God.  It hurts. , I want to ease up, but I'll give it my best… finally… I'm done!  24.5mph (26:15).  Wow, that's tough.  Slower then before.  But maybe it was the wind.

Thanks God for keeping me together.  I continue riding to catch my breath, if I stop I'll surely overheat.  I get back to Robin, give her the warning, and she grabs a bottle heads to the start.  I hope she does well.  The girls and I make our way over to a viewing area and get to see her race out and then back.  She looks fast.

Checking results I was surprised to find I was close to last.  I would be expected to have an advantage riding in the aero position since it's what I do most of the year.  But these cyclists are good all-around I realize.  It's humbling, and that's a good thing in itself.  Before we leave we get to see our friends, Lance & Todd finish their efforts.  They're also gassed and hot, but their speeds are amazing.  27mph!  Wow, we're very impressed.  Later, the results change and I was 9th (of 24).  That was with my 0:50 late starting.. I may have been closer to 3rd if I'd been on time.  That's a lesson in being prepared before the race.

Stage 2: Criterium (30min)
Saturday.  I get a good 7mi warm-up.  Robin and the girls are at Anna's swim meet.  Last year I tried an aggressive strategy to keep the pace moving, and ended up about 30% back at the finish.  This time I'll try a relaxed approach and try to set up for a sprint at the end.  It's a full field.  We're going clockwise (opposite from last year).  It's a 30min race.. it was supposed to be 40.  That will work against me a little.

Go!  The pace is ok.  A couple guys string it out periodically.  First I'm near the back and each lap move a little forward.  I'm noticing I'm not as comfortable as I felt last year.  I try to keep focused on the wheels around me.  I ask the Lord for safety.  There's so much out of your control.  If someone goes down ahead of me, there's not that can be done.

120608_folsomcyclebration_crit_troy1/2 way through I develop a plan to take the last corner on the inside and try to sprint alongside the pack at the end.  There's a crash to my left.  With 2-to-go I find myself at the front of the pack.  I have a good vantage point now for getting into position as the others pass back to the front.  1-to-go and I'm trying to get in my position on the right (inside corner).  Most of the group is moving up on the left (outside).  I'm sliding farther and farther back.  I'm so focused on the inside corner that once I get there, most of the pack is already ahead on the outside.  To make it worse, I have to slow in the corner a little and coming out am shifting gears.  Now it's go! go! go!  I dig deep knowing each person I pass is a point.  But I can see most of the group is already ahead.  I give it all I have and come across in 26th (out of 47).  I'm glad to be safe.  I thank the Lord.  I'm disappointed in my strategy and plan to try the opposite (outside) tomorrow.

Stage 3: Circuit Race (45min)
Sunday.  Robin, the girls, and I are all here. Todd Allington's daughter, Hannah, is babysitting them as Robin & I race.  Robin's event is right behind my group.  After our warm-up we line up.  Our friends, Lance, Todd, and Kevin are here cheering us on.

My group starts and I try to sit back in the pack.  Last year I did some work near the front trying to help with Lance, Kevin and Todd's game plan.  But this time I only have 1 Victory Velo teammate, Rich, and unfortunately we didn't get together to plan anything beforehand.  He had a good placing yesterday so I know he's a good rider.

120610_folsomcyclebration_circuit_troyAfter a couple loops (2.5mi per loop) I find a good place to move up is the turn onto Blue Ravine on the way to the Round-about.  This is also where Robin's group had a crash last year.  Each loop I make a move here just to get back into the top 10 position.  I slip back during the rest of the loop.  With 2-to-go I'm in good position but we catch up to Robin's Women's-4 group and have to neutralize as we pass.  I kind of lose position going into the final lap but I work hard to get back up.

Through the round-about, down the expressway, I start moving to the outside.  It's working.  I'm swinging wide as guys are picking it up.  Then I shoot around the corner and there's plenty of room to work with, putting me in the top 5 going into the final sprint.  I immediately jump up and sprint but see guys in my peripheral vision passing on both sides.  In my fatigue and all-out effort to sprint, I don't try to get on any wheel, but just to gut it out on my own.  300m is a long way!  Unfortunately, even though I started exactly where I wanted to be, I finish, again, closer to the back.  22nd (out of 39).

It's exhilarating, scary and tiring at the same time.  I'm so thankful that Robin & I both finished safely without falls.  It's humbling for both of us to work hard and end up closer to the back but it's good to be humbled and our hat's are off to the cyclists' training regiment - there's so much strategy and practice.  It's very impressive to see them explode out of the last turn and finish at high speed.  Good experiences for us.  Good weekend of racing.  Thanks, God.

I was actually 20th (out of 65) in the Omnium, which is the combined 3 Stage race.  13 pts for the TT, and 1 pt each for the road racing.  Not too bad.