spring valley road race

Not having finished well this year, I went to the Spring Valley road race determined to show the spirit of Team Hungry. Scott Pardi had a rumble in in tummy, and Mike C. was cravin’ some righteous racing. With a big hill finish, we all knew this course played to our strengths. Like every other race this season, the cat 4 race was fast from the start. We caught the 3’s within about 2/3 through the first lap, there were various break attempts, all of which were caught/thwarted by the 3’s presence. Somewhere in the late 2nd or early third lap, the 3’s were neutralized and the 4’s were free to attack. And attack they did, there was a break 4 out of 5 laps right after the hill. Each lap they were caught right before the hill. I bridged a few gaps and took some time at the front, but if another rider didn’t pull through, I sat up. Justin from Team Awesome took extended pulls at the front through the whole race to catch each break. As the bell rang signaling the final lap, another break went, of 2 riders. The peloton did not work together, and the gap widened. At the down hill, up hill 2/3 through the course came, the pack really picked up the pace, and the break was caught at the base of the hill. After a hard climb, I lost sprint and took 11th place. I am still happy with my race.

Scott Pardi is having a great year. He took 2nd place!!! Look at those beautiful legs climb that hill.

Ben

vondervort’s corner

With the chance of showers and thunderstorms at 90%, Ben and I were prepared to endure a day of suffering beyond the usual bike race. We geared up as rain became spotty – we all took it as a sign of the storm that was ahead. Needless to say, we were both nervous for our first rain race. I ran my tires at a lower pressure and was ready to take any necessary precautions.

Chris Durand’s words of wisdom: “You never win a road race in a corner.”

I mulled over the endless possibilities of what was going to happen and when the time came to line-up, I was mentally prepared to ride fast and take chances (when the odds were in my favor).

I was relieved that the beginning of the race was dry and that my competitors didn’t hammer it from the gun. Everyone allowed a nice warm-up before picking it up to blistering speeds of 35mph on the flats. Team Abundance seemed to dominate from the beginning (those guys are fast!), throwing off attacks and reeling in any and all loose ends. Eventually they had one train of a racer off the front and alone.

The course had one small hill/roller, and on lap three I lead the pack over the top. When I pulled off on guy said “we broke, keep it going.” I sat up in disbelief and made them pull around. Sure enough, I found myself in the middle of a four man break and the pack. Shit! there goes the winning break.

My only hope was that they wouldn’t last. The pack tried to chase, but Abundance cleverly put themselves in the way, disrupting any efforts and leaving men out to die alone in the wind. Eventually they were out of sight and people lost hope of bridging the gap.

On lap 5 people stated to attack again, and sure enough a few guys started a second break. I wasn’t there immediately, but saw it as my only chance to get a decent finish. I jumped hard and went solo to the guys ahead.

Once on, I clung hard – white knuckled and giving it every once of energy I could find. Unlike any other break I had been in, these guys did not work together. Everyone kept attacking everyone. It was truly an everyman for himself situation. My only thought was to hold on until the finish. I took turns harder than I ever had to keep a draft and truly pushed myself to my limits.

Finally, I saw the finish line ahead and new that I had sealed at least a top ten finish (payouts and space ho’s!). Didn’t have anything for the sprint and watched the other guys blast past me. I was pleased with my result because I knew I had given it my all to get where I was.

When the tough get going, GO

As you can see below, many of us did our first race of the year yesterday at the Tour da Booze. Pardi, Eric, Starr, K-tizzle and Ben did the Cat 4/5 and I did the Cat 1/2/3.

As we geared up for the race, I was amazed to see how many “serious” racers were there. Of about 16 in my field, 10 or so were probably Cat 1’s. Dino and I were surprised to see that teams worthy of Velo News showed up in full force at a race inspired by alcohol. I guess it goes to show that people don’t need huge pay-outs and prizes to want to race.

My race started very, very slow – The fast guys in the pack would sprint away, get caught, and then whole field would slow down to a crawling pace. This pattern repeated itself several times, allowing the races behind all catch up to us. With virtually every participant in the same pack, the peleton was a mess. Cat 5’s and women were pulling with the 1’s. Sill, the pace crawled and I began to get impatient. I worked my way up to the front and tried to set a faster tempo in hopes of breaking the pack back up.

As soon as I pulled off, a massive effort came from behind. I could have jumped on a wheel, but instead I drifted back thinking that the chase would pull everyone back in. I regretted my choice to sit in as I watched the break distance itself. I knew I should have gone.

I tried working with a few others to bridge the gap. The problem was, that 5’s and masters would mix in the pace line with other intentions. Why would they want to try to bridge up to a break that they weren’t racing against?

My odds of doing well were gone. The group I was in continued play cat and mouse. Anytime someone would pull the pace over 23mph the pack would slow behind him. People seemed more interested in playing tactics in the peleton then focusing on chasing the break. I wanted to work with everyone to catch the break – not race them for 10th, so I made it a training ride for myself. I stayed in the front excessivley (with Tracy), counter attacked the efforts of others and went for the sprint 800m too early.

After the race I wonder: Is it better to try for 10th or should we race to win? Is the risk of wrecking in a sprint worth it when you aren’t in the front? Is there a point where a racer accepts a loss and strategizes for the next best position, or should a racer always aim high?

Photos: http://jjakucyk.exposuremanager.com/p/tour_de_beer_031509/dsc_240626

Oh yea, did I mention the booze? Many libations were enjoyed afterword by all. Thanks to the crew for putting on a fun party.