Team Santa Cruz 2004 Race Reports
The next best thing to racing is getting the chance to lie
about it later!
DFL CX Race #2: Lance Sighting? 9/9/2004
Hey folks—either it was Lance Armstrong or just some idiot who was trying really hard to look like Lance at Tuesday's DFL CX race at Candlestick Point: Lance-look-alike.
Did you know you can make it from Scotts Valley to Candlestick park in 60 minutes? Simone and I made this discovery only by necessity, when we decided at the last minute to go up to the race. I changed clothes in the car right after the Hwy 280 statue of Father Junipero Serra—don't worry, we didn't say hello to any of the "customers" at the rest stop. I had just enough time to get my shoes on when we got to the Park. I jumped out, grabbed my bike, and headed over to the start line with scant seconds to spare.
The race started, it was mass confusion, then Hillary flailed right in front of me in the sand section and started to careen into my bike. I gave her a friendly "little" shove and since she weighs all of 90 pounds (with the bike), it turned out to be not so little of a shove and she almost went down. She recovered well but Team Hunter Cycles goon Rick Hunter saw the whole thing, came up behind me and gave me a Dennis Potvin-style hockey check that sent me to the boards: I was off the sidewalk and trying to recover in the dirt. I couldn't exactly merge back onto the sidewalk—ever try merging your car into an uncaring fast lane? Doesn't work.
I eventually made it back into the fray and was still well positioned in the top 15. I started passing people and soon "found my peer group," or so I thought. I hung with a group for half the race and was putting time into them when the whole "not warming up" thing kinda reared its ugly head. I started my usual on-the-bike-dry-heave tactic for which I am now famous, which actually makes people stop racing and stare in disbelief. This time, however, it had no effect on my racing companions other than to make them disappear ahead of me.
The next lap saw me lose about 10 places, when I finally recovered enough to only have tunnel vision. This is actually a good thing, considering the alternatives. I tried to catch up to a couple of people, went through the finish and heard the best thing you can hear during a CX race, "last lap!"
I charged ahead, caught the two riders ahead of me, put in an attack and held it to the line, totally maxxed out, when I heard the worst thing you can hear in a CX race, a second calling of "last lap!" Ugh. Now totally blown, the two riders behind me caught me like a fresh-water scrod. I managed to stay in front of them during the single track, recovered a bit, and even put a couple of seconds into them during the technical bits. They were chasing hard, but somehow I held them to the line, when I promptly disappeared from everyone and found a private place to puke.
It's the small things that really let you know it's 'cross season. Results for race #2 may or may not be posted at http://www.churchofbike.com/
Sea Otter Classic, Cross Country, 4/18/2004
I raced at the Sea Otter Classic today for the second time
(first time was in 1997). I vowed never to do that race again
because of the poorly-designed course. Well, they changed it, and
now it's really incredibly cool.
I started the race towards the rear of my group of about 132
riders, but I quickly passed scads of riders on the first few
hundred yards of the Laguna Seca track. During the sandy single-track
that followed I passed when I could, and mostly just tried to
keep my grip on the bars as the trail was very b_U-m_P-y, and
in other places like beach sand that was difficult to negotiate
without crashing or veering off-course. Many of my competitors
were on full-suspension bikes like the one I used to have but
sold. I envied them during those sections, and some managed to
pass me even though passing is tricky on fast downhills.
But I also knew that I was ready for the climbs. The climbs
are where races like this are won, and where I was planning to
make my maximum effort.
One guy passed me in a narrow section lined with shrubs and
promptly crashed hard in the attempt, though the shrubs helped
cushion his fall some. Another time I crested a hill after passing
several riders, one of whom then flew past me on the following downhill.
But I followed him and used his line for guidance as the dust
made visibility poor. After it cleared I decided I didn't like
his line and shifted to his right. Just then his front tire washed out
in a patch of sand, and he slowly (it seemed) slid his front tire
to his left (not toward me thank goodness!), and right into the
path of a rider we'd just passed. I didn't stop to assess what happened,
but I cringe at the thought. Further along the paramedics helped
a young guy who'd flown off course, and later I saw a helicopter
come in. Shudder. Definitely some hard crashes today.
Some sections of the course were rocky and sandy, and very
steep uphill. I flew up those hills by the guys who'd passed me
on the downhills, and quite a few others as well. Often I had
to dodge riders who couldn't sustain their momentum and fell down while
struggling uphill. At the top of one hill I saw a guy doubled
over, crawling on the ground, vomiting.
Poison oak was in evidence, and at one point a branch slapped
me full in the face. Too early to assess the effect, but I used
Tecnu in abundance as soon as I got home. Others recommend Windex,
which I'm sure works well too.
I poured on the coal on the long fire road climb leading back
to the track and passed many more riders. The cheering crowd at
the top was very gratifying! Back on the track I got into my best
aero tuck and sprinted for the finish.
When the results were posted my jaw dropped; sixth place! Not
the same as winning, of course, but within spitting distance of
it. I'm very jazzed about that! I never finished anywhere near
that well before, except in some small downhill races. I attribute
this improvement to my 32-mile bike rides to work. It paid off!
I had to ask people around me how far down trophies would be awarded.
Fifth place... arrggghhh! But that's a nice problem to have!