Race Report :: 2003 Monterey Circuit Race
This is a race I like. Rolling hills, a fast descent, and a wide finish for plenty of sprinting room. I had finished 3rd last year in the 4-5 race. This time it was the 2-3 race. My bike was back together with a new top tube and fresh paint job (see Cherry Pie report). Our team, SyCip, had a good showing of riders.
We lined up down the road from the start/finish, waiting for the 4-5 race to finish. Our teammate Charlie was in that race and hoping for a good finish so he could upgrade to Senior 3. So our eyes were focused down the road for his trademark all black outfit. The pack emerged and headed towards the finish. A quick scan and we spotted Charlie near the front. He was pouring on his power and as he passed over the finish line it looked like he had his top ten finish. Sure enough, he finished fourth! Good job and good motivation for the rest of us.
A whistle and our race began. As usual, a surge at the start and then everyone settles in. The wind had picked up and nobody was willing to sacrifice themselves. So we ambled along around the course. On the back of the course there’s one short steep uphill. I recalled from last year that this is where people drop chains, stall, and cause havoc in the pack. Especially on the right side of the hill. So I rode the left side.
Into the start of the third lap we surged up the hill and then around into the wind. The pack settles in, nobody wanting to attack. Around again to the backside and again into a headwind. The pack grouping together, each rider looking for shelter. Then right and down towards the steep uphill, picking up speed.
I aimed myself again to the left side. It was working well for the first few laps. I flew into the left and up the hill. I felt strong and got ready to downshift to keep up my cadence. Then a slower rider on my right swerves into me! I swerve left, brushing off him, and end up in the dirt and sand on the side of the road. I’m now at a complete stop on the steepest part of the hill! All I can do is get off the bike and run up the remaining 20 yards of the hill so I can get rolling again. Of course, running in a pair of road shoes uphill on pavement is not that easy. Damn! The pack is pulling away.
I’m now at the top and the pack is only 40 yards away but pulling away. I’m on the bike and sprinting after them. They are already around the sharp right hand turn at the top of the fast long downhill. I fly around the corner and set my sites on the pack. I’m hammering after them since I know I must catch soon or risk never being able to catch them. The pack is building up their pace and I can only match their speed. Now I’m down on the flat long stretch through the start/finish. The pack has pulled ahead and I’m looking at a long 100 yards to catch up.
I drop my head low and hammer harder and harder. Maybe they will slow enough around the next corner when they hit the strong headwind section? Maybe, maybe. I’m up and around the corner and now have only myself to fight the headwind. The pack is still ahead and not getting closer. I dig in and spin hard, trying to keep as aero as possible.
One more time around and up the steep uphill. A quick right and I head down the long downhill. The pack is now farther ahead. I’m a bit fried from my solo lap effort and watch the pack ahead. What should I do? Well, I guess there’s no reason to give up. So I continue chasing.
I decide to continue chasing as hard and long as I can. It’s a training race now so I might as well make use of it. So I time-trial as hard as I can. Each lap I check out the relative location of the pack. They aren’t gaining much distance but they are increasing it.
Around 45 minutes later a pair of breakaway riders catch up to me and then the pack a few seconds later. I let the pack cruise by and then jump in so I can ride with them for a little more time on the course. With a few laps to go I finally drop out of the race. No need to risk being in a pack crash contending for the finish.
Oh well, the start of the season isn’t going quite like I thought it would.