Race three of the Bay Area Super Prestige series yesterday at Sierra Point in Brisbane: A couple of things made this race different from the rest of the series. First, it was a night race for the fast folks, like the A men and women. What that meant was that instead of the typical very, very early start time for my C race, we went off at 2 in the afternoon. Also, we've been having the most amazing heatwave here in the Bay Area, so it was sunny and in the 80s when we took the start.
The course during warmups seemed fun -- lots of twisting and turning to try and squeeze a long enough course into the area allotted for it. One set of four barriers, and a decision to be made after the barriers: remount immediately, or run up the first half of a two-level hill before the remount. And also two sharp little hills that were rideable if you didn't have traffic or anyone in your way, but if there was some mishap, you'd never make it. The other main challenge were the ruts. In some places, the course was very, very rough, and the ruts ran directly across some of the turns.
On my warmup laps, I felt OK, and was excited about the race. I'd been fighting off a cold all week; Paige has been coughing and stuffed up, but all I had was a sore throat. But that had seemed to fade away, and even though I'd done little training the past week, I was cautiously optimistic.
At the line, I got my call up just at Kristen and the girls arrived to cheer me on (the other huge benefit of a reasonable start time). Very nice to be ready for the start, and seeing nothing but a race course ahead, rather than a couple of dozen riders.
The whistle blows, we all clip in, and gun it for the first corner. Things are fine for the first half lap, but my heart rate is completely pegged. We come to the first of those two little hills, and a guy stalls out just ahead of me. I unclip, dash to the top, try and get the groove back.
I need to punch it immediately, get back up with the leaders. My whole plan is to stay in contact. I ask my legs for a little snap, a burst to get things rolling.
There's nothing there.
Turns out that it just isn't my day. Don't know if it was the cold or something else, but I'm just not sharp. It's both fitness -- I'm slowly getting passed by people -- and also mental. I never really put together a good lap with good flow to it. I either struggle up one of the little hills, or get really bounced around by the ruts, or just can't power out of the corners to get up to speed.
At one point, I get a little tangled with a guy on a decent, and my chain drops. I spend 10 seconds dealing with it, and watch five guys pass.
The rest of the race is an exercise in suffering, and damage control. By the last lap, I'm in a nice little race with a guy, who passes me on the second to last straight, but I force him wide on the final turn, lining up the sprint.
Crang! My chain snaps, dropping to the pavement. I coast over the line, in 23rd place for the day.
Kristen, the girls, and our friend Randy came back to the Team Oakland tent to hang out, drink a beer (well, not the kids), and eat sausages. It was just really excellent to have a little cheering section, especially when I was hurting so much near the end of the race. Later, I ran down to the SRAM tent, where the super-cool techs there replace my chain, which was awesome. Thanks, SRAM!
Oddly, the 23rd place was actually good enough to raise my standing in the overall series to 8th, although I'm going to miss the next race at Golden Gate Park, so that's immaterial. But it was another great learning experience. I felt just totally dead after the race last night, much worse than I've felt the past few races, which tells me that I was definitely not my best.
I also felt pretty beaten up, with all the ruts. I was talking to Kristen last night, and it seems clear to me that one of my big things I need to do in the off-season is get much more comfortable off-road. I should trade road rides for base for mountain bike rides, just to I get more acclimated to it.
One other thing that was cool is that Travis Ma, the guy I've found myself racing against in the past couple of races, finished 5th on the night, which is an awesome finish for him, and puts him way up to fourth in the standings.