Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Cytomax Benicia Crit + ITT race report (Elite 3)

By Nils Tikkanen

Russ, Dennis, and me+lauren had a delicious pre-race breakfast at Linda's. Dennis had never gone, but after that giant corn waffle topped with piles of yogurt and granola, I think he's hooked. Seriously, sometimes I swear I do this sport so I can ingest the caloric needs of a horse without the typically subsequent gut.

When we left Santa Cruz at 8am, the fog was gone and it was already warming up: Not a good sign when your race is way inland and starts at 1pm.

The course is 1.2 miles with 8 turns, in a figure-8 layout. 0.6 miles of the course is a gentle (but sapping) uphill; the downhill section is also pretty smooth but has some great, fast corners in it. Nothing too technical if you know what you're doing.

Russ and Dennis race at 11am (Aside: Russ managed to somehow flat his tire while warming up.) They both race, finish in the top 20, and wait for me to race. And I'm sitting on my trainer, sweating (what seems like) every ounce of water and every gram of sodium out of my body. For some bizarre reason, Russ and Dennis decide against doing the E3 race with me and to instead eat fish tacos and drink some Negro Modelos at the local taquería on the race course. Pretty irrational if you ask me: I'd prefer racing in 90something degree weather any day. ;)

So the race. We start with a neutral lap, and I'm toward the front. Our moto ref keeps a pretty good clip to discourage the field from bunching up at the front—great decision. Once the race starts, things became sort of a blurry haze.

A few attacks are launched and brought in. I spend some time in the first few laps responding, bridging, and testing the waters. It seems like a fast group today, and one that's going to chase breakaways down... good to know. I was feeling the heat and regretting my decision to bring only half a bottle, and I look down at my watch to see...13:xx minutes in.

Crap. I swear I've been out here for longer than 13 minutes.

More racing happens. I feel pretty mobile, but the heat and lack of water really is doing a number on me. Yet more racing happens. I'm just sitting in, really. I look down at my watch to see....14:xx minutes in.

Wait, what?

In yet another classic Nils move, I discover that my watch was displaying military time, even though I swore I started the clock at the beginning of the race. It turns out we have two laps to go. HALLELUJAH!

I move up. I get lucky in my positioning to avoid getting pinched in the corners. I come out of the final corner with decent but not great positioning and sprint like mad (which is what I do well) for 6th place. Not bad!

Point of interest:
  • Not one, but two riders attacked on the neutral start. One of them did it right in front of the start/finish, which made for some great commentary ("And that rider is sent to the back of the pack. Put on your dunce cap, buddy!")
  • Pretty intense crash sequence from our race: When clipping your pedal leads to fail.
  • Downtown Benicia is really nice! The course went around a great park, a cute little downtown strip, and there were some really impressive old Victorian and Craftsmen houses in the neighborhood.
Taleo ITT

Sunday. After an evening of stretching, spinning around, and eating some Russ-and-Dennis-inspired fish tacos at Aldo's, I'm ready for the 12-mile rolling TT just east of Benicia. For some twisted reason, I love time trials and I seem to perform well in said events.

Lauren (my awesome girlfriend and occasional race chauffeur) and I arrive with an hour before my start: plenty of time for a good warmup. I discover that Dethklok (a "fake" death metal band, Google it) makes for some of the most awesome high-BPM warmup music ever.

Not much to say about the race itself. The second leg turns to be much harder (wind + net elevation gain), but I'm used to rolling courses. I pass my 1:00 man and nearly catch the 2:00 man, and I know that's a good sign. Total time: about 26:4x. [Nils: I'll edit this when results are online.]

Said time nets me 3rd. 2nd got me by a reasonable 12 seconds, but 1st had nearly a minute on me and is clearly in another league (not to mention he probably has a dedicated TT setup *jealous*).


Turns out 6th + 3rd get me the overall omnium position and nets me some extra cash! Excellent! For once, I came out of a race weekend with a net profit.

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