Saturday, April 20, 2019

Copperopolis Road Race (Troy) 2019

April 21st, 2019 – Milton, CA
1st, Master 45+ Cat 4
Anna Soares, Hunter Glass, Robin Soares

We've done this race 5 times. It's always on Easter Wknd. This year, Anna (13) is also doing it, along with her friend, Hunter. I hear rumor that the dreaded pot-holes have been somewhat repaired this year and that eases my fear of Anna crashing because of a big bump.

For Robin & I, it's 2 loops of the big climb, bumpy road and steep descent. I haven't trained a lot on hills lately so this could be painful. I haven't slept much lately, so energy could be short-lived. But the biggest concern is safety.

There have been crashes in my last 2 races. I thank the Lord that I wasn't included. I know I'm no more deserving of protection over anyone else, but I'm so glad the Lord offers it to me if I ask. I trust Him and would never want to take these risks without Him!

Ps 56:3-4 "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid…"

Our family and the Glass family gather to pray for the race and for safety for everyone. I really want to help my fellow riders. I seek to do that by 1) being careful not to crowd or cut someone off 2) giving good warnings of obstacles or dangers 3) treating them with respect.



There are 50 riders and 5 categories represented: Cat 3 45+, Cat 3 55+, Cat 4 45+ (my group), Cat 4 55+, and Cat 5.

I guess there are about 8 with me. I gave the back racing wheel to Robin and took the front one for myself because it can be harder to control in the wind.. and more scary on the bumps.

I could run out of energy out there but my plan is to sit in with the pack until the 2nd loop, push the climb and try to summit with a couple others, paceline together and try to pull ahead before the last descent to the finish. If I summit alone, I will have to solo across the top which will hurt a lot.

My last race here, I also was ill-prepared and tired and didn't expect much but my friend, Trixie had prayed that it would be incredible and that made me realize anything is possible with Christ. I found myself going solo across the top after the 2nd climb and surprisingly rode well. I had never been out in front and it was super exciting. I flatted with 7 mi to go and the chase pack passed me but it was a thrill being in that position and gave me experience.

As we start into the base of the first climb, a rider shoots off the front. No one reacted and I started pulling ahead to keep him near. But I think maybe he's in another race on a later lap. Back in the pack I ask another guy and he agrees he's not in our group. Another guy goes by us and eventually bridges to the break-away. Again I figured they're from another race.

Up the hill I keep from getting near the front but pay attention to who is a strong climber. A guy in black and a couple others challenge the hill with ease. Across the top, the guy in black breaks away, but not convincingly, as if trying to see what the pack would do. The pack does nothing. A slight climb is approaching and I decide to bridge up to him to see what happens. I push off the front hard, hit the hill and maintain speed and am happy to catch him fairly easily near the top, but also see that the pack has also caught us at the same time.

From this I gather 1) the guy in black is a climber and wanting to break-away 2) I can stay with him on climbs and 3) the pack will chase with 2 off-the-front.

Before we hit the big descent, I calmly shout out a reminder to check tires.. you don't want a slow leak on a front tire while desdending a steep road of pot-holes. The rumor about the potholes being fixed wasn't true. It's still crazy bumpy and my "plastic" front racing wheel sounds like it's taking a beating.

As we shake and rattle down the scary descent at great speed, I am focused on the Lord. My trust is in Him, not my bike. My bike could explode but the Lord will never fail.

Ps 20:7 "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."

I'm praying for me.. for Anna and Robin.. for others around me. Thank you, Lord, for getting me to the bottom.

I come through the finish of lap 1 with the pack and see the Glass family (Chad, Andrea and Ashley) cheering for me with smiles. Such an encouragement.

I start preparing for battle. I eat and drink. Starting into the big climb, I calmly pull to the front and slowly increase effort. I grab water at the feed zone, drink it fast and toss it. I increase the pressure. I'm breathing hard. 3 other guys are around me, now putting the pressure on me. ½ way up the hill, I'm really winded but it's paying off. The others are slowing down and the guy in black is the only one challenging me. A couple times he pulls ahead on really steep parts. I feel anxious but remind myself to keep to my recent pedal stroke strategy.. spinning, not forcing. Thank you, Lord, the pain in my legs eases and I do catch up. Just got to be patient.

We make it to the top! The guy in black and myself have a 10 sec lead. We know what we have to do and settle in to a rotating lead. As I come through he says, "Right now, we're teammates. At the end, we can battle it out."

We work well together, taking turns leading. Keeping speed about 22 mph. He mentions that there are 2 others up the road! Now I remember the start of the race when I thought they were another group. He says we might catch them but they are no where in sight. I figure if they're in our category, we're racing for 3rd, but if they're in a different category, we could be racing for 1st!

½ way across the top, we have a minute lead! The bumps keep trying to wreck pedal efficiency. And the wind is brutal at times. I've come to really appreciate my "new teammate", blocking the wind, allowing me to recover.

Suddenly, as I pull through, the guy in black loses his chain. I immediately reach out give him a push to keep him going while he fixes his chain. The thought to attack him doesn't occur to me because I want his help so much. He gets it back on while coasting and we ramp the speed back up.

A mile before the big descent. There's a 1/2mi climb right before it. I hate to do it but I know I must attack it. I plan the rotating pulls so that he will pull into the hill. Something my friend, Clint Gaver, once taught me (and used on me often). He's pulling. I'm drinking and preparing. At the base of the hill I pull around quick and start pushing a hard pace up. The race is on! I keep spinning, try to ignore the legs complaining. I can feel him behind a few seconds. Over the top I see I have a 5 sec gap. And the chase pack is 2 min behind.

Now to fly down. Again, my focus is on God. This is scary. I try to listen to the Lord for how fast to go. Not crazy, but still with plenty of risk. My hands holding lightly, absorbing the numbing shaking. My eyes trying to see clearly despite vibrating.

Sometimes I look back and he's still 5secs behind.

Thank you, Lord! At the bottom, but now the hard part begins.. 200m to the finish. It's possible I could be in 1st place, so even though everything hurts, I have to persevere just to see what could be.

Surprisingly, for how tired and unprepared I was coming into this race, I'm digging deep and climbing to the finish fast… and I'm done!

The guy in black finishes 5 secs behind and we find out we're 1st and 2nd in the cat 4 45+ because the other 2 guys were different categories.


For the first time in 24 years, God gave me the opportunity to finish 1st in a bike race. I feel like all those years of falling off the back, dying on the 2nd climb, getting flats, or just not being with the right riders during attacks… they were all important experiences. And this time, it just worked out perfectly that I had a 2nd rider to work with at the right time.

The Lord answered my prayers, our family and other riders finished safely.