Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ronde Van Brisbeen Stage 2 - Brisbane Highlands Circuit Race, 45+ 3/4

By Dennis Pedersen

This race was part 2 of a two-day "omnium" race. The course is longer at 1.7 miles, of which half is a descent and the other half a fairly gentle, roughly 3-minute climb, similar to about the first half of our Wednesday "L5" intervals route (I was able to stay in my 53x25t gears in even the steepest section). Russ and I came into this race with a chance at finishing on the podium for the omnium, so we were pretty amped. Geoff joined us too, but we were obviously down in numbers from last year when we were 9 riders! Last year I got 9th after some missed opportunities, so I was hoping to improve this year, but our team showing probably made that unlikely.

I had broken a wheel and a shoestring during the race on Saturday, but thanks to Evan at Bicycle Trip I was able to get that wheel (and a fresh tire) together in time for this race. But then we had a last-minute party for 10 at our house, so I didn't get much rest after the race. And fixing the special "Boa" strings (steel cables actually) my shoes use was tougher. None of the three shops I went to had the special repair kit for these shoes, but it turned out Russ did and he brought it with him when he and Geoff picked me up on the way. Thanks Russ! On the drive up I tried fixing the broken shoestring from Saturday, but the bumps made that hard to do. Once we arrived in Brisbane I was able to do the deed. Then we signed in, suited up and warmed up in the gorgeous weather.

I started at the very front of the pack, uncharacteristically, and when they blew the whistle I scooted downhill for a bit of warmup. Then everybody caught up and we got to work. The pace seemed easier this year, and that may have been in part because no other teams were pushing the pace like we did last year.

Also, a rider (I think from Davis Bike Club) soloed off the front for quite a while and everybody just waited for him to fade before putting in a final effort. I stayed further up than I often do, again, because that was one of my goals. Russ does so well in that regard and I've been trying to get better at that.

There were no prime laps to break things up so the pace stayed fairly constant without causing me much damage. I was still sore from Saturday's crit, but not enough to feel slow. We'd discussed Geoff maybe soloing off the front with 4 laps to go, but he decided against that, seeing as how there was already somebody off the front. Some of the guys were getting really worried about the solo break and called out for people to "pull through" and stuff, but these guys were just not seeing things clearly. It looked to me like he was getting slower every lap.

Geoff did take some pulls and with one-and-a-half lap to go he tapped me on the hip to let me know he was feeling good. Russ was just ahead and I called out to him to let him know I was there too. We were all up front and ready for action!

As we rode up the hill for the last time we were just seconds away from catching the solo leader. I could tell he was hurting even from a distance. People calmed down a bit and started sizing each other up instead of worrying about him. I noticed Ron Takeda (2nd on Saturday) swing around the right and position himself on the front row... with me right on his wheel. Now we just needed somebody to make the first move.

Soon their was a flash of motion on the right and Ron and I grabbed the wheel of this early move; there were still about 90 seconds of climbing to go. Soon we were zig-zagging off the front with our legs burning. Left, right and back again. Then the more patient guys launched their attack and flew by on the left – all hell broke loose!

I never jumped but maintained a steady acceleration up the steeper section of the hill, thinking it was further than it looked... which it is! Several guys passed me but I was certain I'd pass them further up when they'd blow up. But that didn't quite happen as I think we were all at our limits, and it was hard to pass anybody.

Russ got 8th, Geoff 9th and I got 11th. I was a bit bummed but I felt that I'd been at my limit when I crossed the line, and it was unlikely I could have improved much over that. Perhaps I should have waited for that later attack but, again, I doubt it would have worked better as then I'd have started my sprint from further back. I felt we had all ridden smartly too, and I had accomplished my goal of staying further ahead in the pack, so I don't have many regrets about this whole weekend of racing. It was pretty awesome actually!

Next stop: Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, Sunday, April 5th! Nils, Jay Brodie and I are racing Elite 3. Robert Gaukel and new guy Thad Stockham in Elite 5. Ed, Joe, Robbie and Vlada in 35+ 4/5. Kimi Sudbrink in Women 4. Should be a good show!

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