Saturday, April 4, 2015

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy)

April 4th, 2015 – Milton, CA
2 x 21 mile loops

Masters 45+ 4, 8th out of 25


Chris DeMattei

This has become a nice yearly tradition.  Drop the kids off with grandpa & grandma (my mom), do the race together with Robin and then spend a fun Easter weekend together with family in Discovery Bay.

However, being sick this last month, I haven't gotten much training in and know the hills of this race may prevent me from staying with the pack.  I may have to ride alone if I get dropped, but it will still be a great workout.  On the other hand, If I'm very careful to conserve energy, knowing when not to chase and just sit-in in the pack, I could make it to the end with the group.

It's about 4 hrs of driving before we get to the Milton race site, which is a cute, rural group of buildings in the middle of nowhere.  Fortunately, Chris DeMattei is here from my team, Victory Velo, and he's racing with me in my event.  We raced together in the Land Park Criterium 2 wks ago.

I make sure to have 2 bottles.  I've gotten dehydrated hear before.  The temps are cool but the climbing and wind really dries you out.  Robin and I pray before the race.  The realization for potential crashes is always a concern but we feel an ultimate protection giving our race and everything to the Lord.

We start out and immediate start our acclimating to the bumpy roads.  My plan is to stay 5th to 10th in the group and try to stay out of the action.  The big hill is harder than ever.  I focus on good form, steady effort.  Glad to summit.  Now just sit-in and let others do the work.  With minimal training I could easily wipe myself out doing too much work early.

My teammate, Chris, stays near the front.  He works to keep the pace up and covers any big moves.  3 guys go off the front and Chris starts a rotation at the front to bring them in.  But we can tell they aren't serious about it and I tell Chris to ease off and we'll catch them on the next climb.  He looks at the big guy in the group and agrees he'll struggle on the climb.  Soon we are all back together again.

On the climb before the big descent, after sitting-in across the top, I push it a little bit and summit with the leader and draft him going down.  Another guy pushes the pace saying he wants to catch someone but I didn't know someone was off the front.  But I join him anyway and we alternate bombing down the hill.  The 2 of us get a 10sec gap by the bottom.  The pack regroups and rolls through the finish of lap 1.  Chris tells me he got dropped on the descent but it's his first time here and that descent requires getting used to.

The 2nd time up the big hill is difficult.  I don't get water at the aid station thinking I have enough (will prove to be a mistake).  The Cushman-Wakefield team starts pushing the pace.  Suddenly their key rider throws a chain and pulls over and another teammate stays back to work with him to catch up.  Their 2nd best rider takes off up the hill and Chris stays with them.  Both of them pull far ahead.  I'm just struggling to stay with the main pack.  I focus on efficiency but am breathing very hard.  Thankfully the pace mellows.  Chris comes back but the Cushman-Wakefield guy is still pressing on.  We all crest together and now try a rotating paceline to real in the flyer.

It doesn't work well.  I'm 3rd guy.  Then Chris rotates through perfectly.  But no one ever follows Chris, leaving him in the wind each time.  The motorcycle official gives us splits and we're surprised to see the C-W guy is gaining 10 secs on us each mile!  I don't care about 1st place, I just want to have enough energy to sprint with the pack.  Chris says he's feeling some cramps and I tell him to ease back concerned he'll blow up before the critical final climb before the descent.

Chris tells me he will help me to the climb so that I have a chance for 2nd place.  That sounds great and I'm willing to give it my all, but inside I know I'm not qualified to fulfill it with my lack of training.  I sit on his wheel pulling only so briefly.  The rest of the W-C team sit way back, because of their rider off the front.  We get to the final climb and it's time to go with everything we've got!  But it's me that's cramping now!  My quads.  I had been trying to shake them out earlier but it's clear my body is taxed.  5 guys leave us behind and there's nothing I can do.

Exhausted, at the top, I pray that I can be alert enough going down not to do something dumb.  2 guys pass me and we work together.  I get a gap on them at the bottom but prepare myself for them coming by fast.  I've got to be ready to jump on.  There they go, I'm on their wheel.  3 of us approach the 100m to go.  I'm in good position.  We all jump… but my quads seize up!  I let up and they work.  But when I push they cramp.  1 guy pulls ahead but the other is slowing down so I finish in the middle.  8th place from the leader far ahead, the 5 guys in the chase pack and then 1 guy in our group.  Chris finishes in 10th.

I'm glad to be done and thankful to the Lord for doing better than expected, not getting dropped completely and, most of all, protecting me from crashing on the descent.  I feel like I let Chris down because he worked so hard to pull me along and then I could stay with the break-away on the climb.  If it wasn't for him, I would have cramped up earlier.

We both come back to the finish and witness Robin hammering in to win the Women's 4's!  I'm amazed!  She's never won a race and usually gets dropped on the big descents like this.  And then she tells me about losing all her gears at 12miles into the race.  The total opposite of my race where I conserved and used all my gears efficiently to save up energy for the end, she used up tons of energy early on standing up on climbs and somehow was able to catch up and continue on for the win.  Truly orchestrated by the Lord and we are humbly grateful to be there to experience it.