This is my penultimate race report for 2005.
Since neither I, Joel, nor Chris did one for Manhattan Beach two weeks ago, I’ll include a MBGP race report here in abbreviated form just to be complete. In summary, it was hard and crazy. Chris got ninth and all three of us kept all of our skin. There were a lot of crashes and the average speed was over 26 in spite of a hill which was never taken at full speed and corners through which we went at under 10mph. In addition, the field was full or very close to it, so it consisted of about 120 riders. I don’t know how many of you checked out the pictures from Cyclingnews.com, but the crazy single rider crash happened right before the 3s race and I saw it live. I’m pretty sure the rider was fine, but I’m sure he would have rather been photographed for leading out the sprint rather than kissing the asphalt.
Today’s race was the final installment of the Ontario Criterium series. I had fair warning of the weather when a Labor Power guy mentioned to Joel and me that the weather was going to be hot. Of course that lead me to check the weather report when I left, enabling me to see that the forecast was 100+. Even if I hadn’t checked, I could tell it was going to be a scorcher as it was even warm in Encinitas.
When I arrived in Ontario, it was indeed hot. It felt good to arrive since racing was the safest thing I did today. The drive was scary although I may be more sensitive than usual to all the a-holes on the road because of the events of last weekend. I was nearly sideswiped by some jackass weaving through traffic at 90+ mph. I guess that scare was indeed enough to make a criterium feel like nothing.
I mentioned it was hot. I found out how hot after the 3s race. 105 degrees in the shade and 110 in the sun. It may have actually been a little hotter during the race since I’m not sure how recently the measurements had been taken. Needless to say, once it’s that hot, a few degrees doesn’t matter so much. I drank an entire water bottle right before the start and packed two on my bike.
The field was relatively small, which was probably a combination of there not being much interest in racing by the end of August and not much interest in racing when it’s really hot. The racing started off not very fast, but not very slow either. Just sitting in didn’t take much effort, which allowed me to cruise along. A break got away early in the race. I saw it go and thought it was just too early. Plus, breaks rarely work in 3s races because the guys are generally not committed enough to staying away. Here, the break worked because there was no interest in catching them. The break went off within the first twenty minutes of the race. I know that only because I remember finishing off my first water bottle after 21 minutes and they were already away at that time. I finished off the second bottle later in the race.
In spite of Hi-Tech having what seemed to be 5 or 6 guys, they really didn’t do anything to chase down the break, which was never really all that far ahead. The Hi-Tech guys never massed to the front and would seemingly have one guy either try to do a solo bridge and then blow up and come back or have someone do a monster pull with the same result. There were some other teams there that had a couple of guys but none of them did much either. The field simply didn’t have enough momentum to chase.
As the laps were counting down, I had to keep thinking “patience Grasshopper” to myself. I felt good and really wanted to do something, but was well-aware that I just don’t have the legs to ride away by myself. I bided my time until the last lap (2k to go) was starting. A group of guys surged on the left and another on the right. This seemed to be the moment when we’d start racing. Although I didn’t have time to jump onto either of these very small groups from the outset, I quickly managed to bridge up after the first corner. By that time, there were a couple of us off the front. As we had a gap, we kept the speed up. In spite of us going fairly well, the field started closing a bit, as they decided to make a race of it as well. I did my best to keep the speed up, but since I was aware of how close the field was, I made sure to keep enough energy to jump on in case we couldn’t hold it. At one point, it really seemed like we were going to get caught, but it turned out a couple of guys were making their way up to us. On the back stretch of the course, my heart rate was at 195, which was higher than I hit in my lab test last week, meaning that was as hard as I could go without going completely anaerobic.
As we were approaching the chicane, some of the chasers came by us. It was kind of a mess for a few moments, but I found myself on the front, knowing that everybody who wasn’t already ahead of me was breathing down my neck. While the field was still coming up, there were a number of guys still off with me. Coming out of the last corner I gave it everything. The distance was too far for a full sprint, but it was an all-out effort. I don’t know how fast I was going, although I know I hit 34+ at some point, but for how long I have no idea. A couple of guys passed me before the finish, including some who caught up from the pack. I didn’t mind so much being passed by guys who’d jumped off the front, but it was annoying getting passed by the a few guys sprinting off the field. At the end, I finished in 12th, but did get to do an all-out effort and saw a heart rate of 203 when I crossed the line.
I did another half-lap to try and catch my breath and come back to change my jersey and water bottles for the masters race. I finished another water bottle when I got to the pit. I waited as long as I could before going to the start line. Even after standing under a tent for several minutes, my heart rate was still 156. You might not have thought about this, but combining a 100% effort with 100+ degree weather really raises your heart rate. That’s one to grow on J
I think I dropped out on the third lap of the masters race. I was dead. My heart rate was in the 180s just sitting in. I was done. I don’t know how many people actually started, but under 20 finished and even then, it was all split apart. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around to try doing the 1/2/3 race. Tony Cruz was there, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have won anyway.
My next (and really final since the TTT is a separate category of event) and final event for the year is the Giro di San Francisco next Monday. Maybe watching 2/3 or more of the field DNF the day before in the Grand Prix will somehow inspire me to ride better than the pros.
That’s all folks.