By Dennis Pedersen
I have long known that these technical criteriums aren't my strong suit, but I enjoy them so much and like the higher safety level that comes from that too. Still, nobody likes to DNF a race, especially since I managed to finish this one in mid-pack last year. But it's always a learning experience, so writing this up may help. So what was different?
I am more fit. That's about it.
In 2008 I sat in the whole race, suffering but maintaining my tenuous grip on the pack (barely!), and finished 18th. Last year I raced Elite 3 for another mid-pack finish. But this year I had the bad luck, around lap 10 of 20, to get stuck behind a guy who started dicking around with his gears on the climb (geez, just pick a gear!). Then I looked around him and saw that we'd let a 30-foot gap open up. I spent the next lap chasing the pack and had almost caught them on Laurel Street but I could see that I'd have to push myself even harder to make contact... and would catch them just at the base of the hill. I knew from experience that I'd be blown out, and another gap would open on the climb that I'd then have to somehow close. Repeat "ad nauseum" and you have the makings of a very tough race with a mediocre finish.
I decided to pull out instead and save my energy for my usual Monday workout. It's mildly depressing to roll to a stop and explain all that to one's supporters, but hey, that makes more sense than suffering needlessly for another mid-pack finish at best. And I managed 45 minutes of L4 over Granite Creek and Mountain Charlie the next morning! So my decision helped me maintain my workout schedule.
The lesson? I re-learned that repeated anaerobic efforts leave us no margin for error against guys who can ride at 26 MPH in their aerobic zone. Duh. And any semblance of a finishing sprint would be purely coincidental. Rather than work on my anaerobic power, which seems like the obvious answer, I need to work on my aerobic power. Bonny Doon x 1,000 here I come.
Oh, ex-Pro Chad Gerlach (who was very active at the front I'm told; I couldn't see that!) and Jesse Moore, our winner, both went on to finish strong in the 50-lap Pro race too... they are a fast bunch! It's kind of cool to take the line with a bunch of ex-Pros, except for the pain part.
My wife and various friends and family cheered me on, which is always special. Wish I could have given them a better show. Thanks again!