Race Report :: 2003 McLane Pacific Cycling Classic Road Race

Date: March 23, 2003
Event: McLane Pacific Cycling Classic Road Race
Category: Senior 3
Place: Flat – finished though
Field: ~135

McLane Pacific Cycling Classic Road Race :: John & Greg warming up in the car (click for larger image)The previous day’s beautiful weather was not to be for this race. I awoke at 5am again, through my stuff together, and then drove over to pick up my team mate Jeremy. Off again towards the great California central valley. The clouds keeping the sky gray the whole drive. I kept up optimism for the clouds to part and for us to have no rain for the race. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

We got to the race start early and had plenty of time to register, get ready, and warm-up. It would switch between misting, to drizzling, to raining. I decided to use the Lance Armstrong sit in the car warm-up. I read that he sat in the car with the heat blasting one time before a race instead of trying to get warm in the cold weather. I plugged in the iPod, found the warm-up tunes, and blasted the heat. Some stretching and massaging of the leg muscles and things were good.

Race time approached so I reluctantly exited my little warm den and got myself ready to go. Bike all ready, I rode over to the start and lined up with the crowds. While waiting my team-mate Ron rolls up, facing the wrong way, race number in hand. “Mind pinning me?” he asks. Ok, he’s running late but I manage to pin the number in time and he’s off on his race.

We line up, wait a moment, and off we go for our 3 lap 72 mile race. The pack moves out and begins cruising. Within the pack were four of my team-mates. All of them strong riders. I sit in the middle of the pack, working on staying out of the wind and giving my legs more warm-up time. The rain doesn’t let up and the road is covered in a nice layer of moisture. This causes each rider’s rear tire to spray a big rooster of water. This requires you to ride just to the right or left of the rider. Otherwise, your face gets a constant washing from the wonderfully clean road water. Even with trying to avoid that spray, I ended up with a bunch of grit in my eyes, ears, mouth… yuck.

McLane Pacific Cycling Classic Road Race :: Warm-up in the truck with iPod (click for larger image)The pack continues cruising, small break away attempts every-so-often, but nothing to worry about. The course is long, flat and difficult to get away on. On the back side of the course is a pair of small hills. We begin rolling up the first hill and the pack starts to slow. I’m riding on the right side when I hear bikes colliding and crashing. Over to the left side a small group piles up. Once we are over the hill I look around the pack to try and spot all my team-mates. Uh oh, two are missing. Sure enough, Jeremy and Santiago have been taken out! Argh. Ok, still three of us in the field.

Into the second lap the pace is the same. But, after the two small hills and into the rollers a small group breaks away. The pack starts picking up its pace. Near the end of the rollers, with the break away in site, we start attacking to reel them in. I ride up to my buddy Chappy and he tells me to hang on his wheel. He pulls me hard up to the front and then I use that to charge off towards the break away. Several riders follow and we manage to bring everyone back together. The effort keeps the pace up high as we roll towards and through the start/finish for the final lap.

My team-mate Charles rides up and we start chatting about strategy. He wants to be the lead-out man for the finish. So we settle on the plan and continue on. Through the rollers the pace is picking up. Then, on one of the short hills, the pace slows and a rider not paying attention bobbles, locks his rear wheel up, and slides sideways and right across the field! I have enough time that I veer off the road into the dirt on the left. But the guys just to my right nail the guy. And one of those guys is Charles! Damn! Once I’m back on the road I look back several times trying to see if he’s ok.

Now the pack is picking up steam. With the previous wackiness, I’m not going to let that happen, so I work myself right up to the front. I’m feeling good and I stick 2nd wheel. If someone starts to pass, I move over and on that wheel. This continues as we take the last corner. It’s still a few more miles to the finish but the pace isn’t letting up. As we are cruising down the road I start thinking through my finish plans. Then I get distracted by something. Something weird with my bike. Hmm, it feels funny. Uh oh, my front end doesn’t feel right. I bounce some weight off the front wheel. Damn… damn, damn! My tire is going flat. Wait, is it really? No, maybe it’s my imagination. Test it again. Damn! It is going flat. Can it hold to the finish? Can I sprint on it? Stephen, my last team-mate in the field, is just ahead of me. He looks back and says stay on his wheel. I have to yell back, “I can’t, gotta flat”.

I keep spinning, hoping it will hold. But then, at the quick right/left corner probably a mile from the finish, my tire gives up. My hand goes up and I’m out of the race.

The chase vehicle, a truck, comes up a moment later and there is Charles in the back. He quickly hands me a wheel but I know it’s no use. At least I will be able to ride back. I change the wheel and sprint around the corner so I can see the finish. Way up ahead I see the pack and the finish line a little farther on. Suddenly there’s some chaotic motion within the pack. Uh oh. The pack keeps moving and off towards the finish.

As I get closer to the finish I come up on the chase vehicle again. There, standing by the side of the rode is Stephen, looking a little dazed. He a little banged up, helmet cracked, but holding up. Our last team-member was taken out at the very end.
A race with 135 starters, 5 of them SyCip. Four of them crashed out, one flatted, for a finish without any SyCip riders…

Bad luck, bad karma, or a plot against SyCip? :’)

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