Sunday, March 12, 2017

Barianni Road Race (Troy)


March 12th, 2017 – Zamora, CA


3 x 14loops


DNP, Masters 45+ Cat 4


Chris DeMattei, Hugh Janney, Jay Garrard, Jeff Brooks & Paul Brown,

I got a ride with Victory Velo teammates and we talked strategy on the way there… well, mainly they did, as I’m not feeling confident about being a contributing factor.  Haven’t been riding a lot.

After arriving at the Barianni Olive factory, and registering, I tell the guys I’m going to go read so I can find a quiet place to spend some time with God.

I can’t help but hear many riders in the earlier races talking about the crashes. Really bad crashes.  Maybe due to the winds today, or the damaged roads from the rainstorms.  My fear is a crash in the middle of the pack caused by another rider.  Or I imgagine getting bumped to the outside and going head-over-heals into the pavement or, hopefully, onto the softer shoulder, or, even better, grass :)

What I don’t want to happen is going down without a fight, like I did at Montserret when I casually careened off the road breaking 6 ribs.  I wish I fought for it, wrestling the bike, risking a slide out rather than complete impact.

I find a warm spot against the back of the building. I pray that the Lord will give me and my team alertness and clear thinking.  Most of all, I want to be thinking of the Lord throughout the race so that I can hear from Him quickly.  It could be an instruction to encourage another rider, or a warning against making a risky move, or encouragement to push harder than I think I can.

I warm up and then run into high school classmate, Scott Fonseca.  I forgot bike gloves and considered riding without but realized if I crashed, my hands would regret that.  I borrow some nice new Victory Velo bike gloves from Garin who had finished an earlier race.

I find my teammate, Chris, another Christian, to pray with.  He’s a really strong rider about to cat up to the 3’s and we want to help him win today if possible.  It’s an encouragement to be able to pray together.

At the start, I’m next to my friend, Bill Vaughn, who is now racing on another team but we’re still looking out for each other.  We pray together as well.

As we start, my first goal is NOT to get dropped unexpectantly like last year!  I stay very alert to every move.  We fly through the first miles with a tailwind and then turn and head north on the deteriorated roads into the wind.

Jeff & Chris are up front. Hugh, Paul & I are close to the back.  The pack stays together and the narrow roads don’t have many opportunities to move up.  A couple guys go off the front but it’s not serious.  I think about God watching over me and it’s a reminder to do my best, encourage my teammates, and work together.

I was warned before the start about a bad pothole.  1/2 way around the loop and I hit it!  Hard blow but I know these Ravelo wheels are strong enough so I don’t think anything of it.

[The impact, combined with lower tire pressure, actually caused a pinch-flat that was slowly leaking.]

Up through the rolling hills I move closer to the front.  This is where we will push the pace on the last lap to help Chris.  I goes well and gives me confidence.

Going South now past the finish with a tailwind we’re cruising at 30mph.  Soon I find myself at the very back of the pack.  I stand up to move forward and hear a rough sound from my front wheel… like it’s flat.  But I look down many times and don’t see the typical bulge of tire against the road indicating low pressure.  I imagine stopping to check only to find it perfectly fine (which has happened before) and therefore convince myself that it’s all in my head and to trust that it’s good.  Maybe it’s these carbon wheels and the road texture that is making that terrible sound when I stand.

[I didn’t pray about the decision, nor ask another rider to look at my tire. The terrible grinding sound was the carbon rim against the road without the usual cushion of air]

I stand up, with the grinding sound, and move near the front.  We turn West and I see Chris up front doing a lot of work as the group seems content to slow the pace.  I rotate back a ways and then push along the edge of the road to get back to the front.  I ride right on the edge of the pavement fraught with jagged drop-off’s to the shoulder.  At one moment I feel something soft under my front wheel and assume I got too close to the soft shoulder.  I pull in front of Chris and plan to pull him a while.  A right turn is ahead.  Within the pack, turns are always a little tense, tracking the lines of riders all around you.  But the easiest place to take a turn is in the front.  At 20 mph I feel very calm and pick a nice tangent through the corner.  20 mph will be a little hard for mid-pack which will be good for Chris and I to make them work to catch up.

I lean gradually more and more.  Right at the apex of the corner the front of my bike dissolves out front under me.  My front wheel gracefully sliding out like it was never meant for traction at all. Followed by a hard hit and then sliding over cobbled broken asphalt. All the while thinking, “What just happened?”  As I stop, I picture a whole peloton tumbling over my back.  I instantaneously grab my bike and toss it to the side while crawling towards it.  I hear the yells of “bike down!” and, thank the Lord, don’t feel anyone run into me.  I couldn’t see them and don’t know how they avoided me but I’m thankful they did.

I had a flat tire for at least 3 miles!  I feel stupid.  I realize that these race wheels have wider rims so that the tire doesn’t bulge out to the side when flat.  Inexperience with flats on these wheels caused a dangerous situation.  If I was in the middle of the pack, I surely would have taken multiple guys out.  Fortunately, the Lord was also protecting Chris who was directly behind me.  He went way to the outside, almost off the road, but was ok, although flatting later himself.

My derailer was broken off, my elbow hurt pretty bad and my ride was over.  The sag car took me back to the start where I found Robin and the girls and got cleaned up.  The bike gloves I borrowed from Garrin were ripped up, but they protected most of my hands.


A hard lesson but I thank the Lord for His protection of the rest of the group.  I would feel so much worse if I knocked others out of the race.