Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stanford Collegiate Races

New teammate Eddie here with my first blog post about this past weekend's collegiate races, hosted this week by Stanford. While I competed this weekend with the UCSC collegiate team (where I'm a graduate student), I figured I'd share with my experience with the team while I anxiously await my Team Bike Trip kit! The weekend consisted of three races: a team trial and road race Saturday in Panoche Road (same stretch as the Panoche Valley RR course on 5/5/13), and a crit on Sunday in Morgan Hill next to the Specialized headquarters. Fellow new Bike Trip teammate Matt Wittmann and I raced the Men's collegiate C category, which translates to a Men's road 4/5 field.

The 4-person team time trial was a 12-mile out and back course first thing in the morning before the road race. Originally, Matt and I had only planned to do the RR, but found another UCSC graduate student, Auric Kantz, who was eager to give it a shot with us. Our sentiment going into the TTT was to have fun and use it as a learning experience, but once the whistle blew Matt jumped out of the gate fast and the ride was on. We gave it a solid effort, though keeping in mind we wanted to save some pony for the main event later in the morning. We finished in 32:06, with UC Davis claiming first with a time of 29:37. While we placed 6/6, '28 behind 5th CSU Fresno, we had a good time doing so and it was a great learning experience. And hell, at this point in our racing careers, we'll take a top-10 finish any way we can get it!

The road race was a 36 mile out-and-back course that consisted of about 2,000 ft of climbing, and reminded me a lot of 84/San Gregorio/Alpine. The wind was blowing a decent clip to the East, meaning that we'd have a headwind coming back down the hill. There was plenty of UCSC representation in the field of 45: along with Matt and I, we had Bike Trip's own Andrew Smith, as well as Auric and Brent Adams. The race started out very slow over the first 10 or so miles which consisted of gentle rollers, with plenty of collegial (no pun intended) conversation within the peloton. Once the first main climb came, it was game time. Almost simultaneously, everyone hit the pedals hard and it was the moment of truth to see who could hang on with the heavy hitters. I was positioned about a third of the way back for this mile-long climb and when I saw a group of about 15 pulling away, I put my head down and spun as fast as I could. The pain was delicious as my heart red-lined the entire 4-5 minutes it took to get up the hill. I kept telling myself "Hey! This is just like Wednesday repeats... get your ass up this hill!" and sure enough, it was over just in time to stop my heart from exploding. After the dust settled, a group of 12 or so had gotten away off the front, but Matt and I joined up with another 10 or so riders to form a second group. Feeling pretty salty and very alive at that point, a Stanford rider named Mike and I took turns pulling the group to the turn-around point at the top.

The lead pack had about a minute on us at the turnaround, so we had our work cut out for us. It quickly became apparent however that our group was more interested in competing against each other than working to close the gap through the wind, so Matt and I decided to relax. If they wanted to do most of the work back to the finish, we'd be kind enough to let them. The rest of the descent was fairly uneventful, though a USC guy successfully attacked off the front of our group and held it against the wind for the last 3-4 miles, much to my surprise. Kudos to him, but since it wasn't a winning break and he was only one of about 10 of us, there wasn't a big onus to reel him in. Heading into the final stretch, through ever-so-excellent planning, I found myself in the precarious position of leading the pack out for the sprint. While I wasn't too happy about my execution, I figured I could at least lead out Matt for the sprint. As expected, the pack came zooming past me, and I tried to jump on them as hard as I could. Matt got beat well before the line and eased his pace. Still going hard, I came zooming up behind him, and it became clear that I would/could pass him before the line. I thought momentarily about slowing down to let him finish ahead (which would've been the sportsman-like thing to do), however, Matt being a good friend, my primary training partner, and a hellacious competitor, I followed the only choice I really had, and passed him with 10 feet to go to finish 22/45. And while petty, a chance to hold (small) bragging rights over Matt is an opportunity one simply must take when given the opportunity, since they are far and few between. ;)

Cal Poly Crit on 2/9/13, but hey! I couldn't be the
only blog post without a fancy picture!
The 30 minute crit the following day was fast and fun, though only Brent and myself competed in our field for UCSC. The laps were 1/2 mile, CCW, with 5 corners (the last segment was banana shaped). Physically, I felt A-ok, but I had a hard time staying near the front of the peloton given the number of riders on the course. I had a nice starting spot on the line, but had trouble clipping in, started near the back, and spent the entire race trying to find lanes to move up. Towards the end, I had finally gotten myself to a decent position, but lost it on a bad approach to the corner going into the last lap and couldn't catch the back of the group sprinting out the last lap. I went hard around the course to the finish line hoping for the best, but the damage was done, and finished 23/36. Not as well as I had hoped, but you live and learn, and thankfully there's always another crit around the corner for redemption.

This weekend's collegiate races will be hosted by UC Berkeley. The RR takes place in the quaint town of Crockett, bordering my hometown of Martinez, which I hope will provide an extra boost to place well. With that said, this means I must defend my home turf, even if it means keeling over climbing up the brutal Mc Ewen Road trying!

1 comment:

Dennis the Mennis said...

Thanks for the race report, and best wishes next time!