Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UC Berkeley Road Race

Another weekend, another collegiate road race, this time hosted by UC Berkeley. This race spanned the towns of Crockett & Martinez, the latter being my hometown. I raced in the collegiate Men's C (4/5) category, along with 4 other UCSC teammates: Bob (Babendeep), Emerson, Auric, and Brent. With Bob & Emerson being renowned climbers, and a course consisting of 3 laps (http://app.strava.com/segments/1235961) containing a climb up the vaunted Mc Ewen Rd, I knew my work would be cut out for me. Mc Ewen Rd (http://app.strava.com/segments/610457) is a 1.2 mile climb at 8%, and while not enough of a climb to kill a man, it was obvious the attack was going to come on the first climb, so we had to be ready.

Teammate Reggie with a rather curious solution to
a problem with his seat post. Not sure how it helped,
but he's a craftier man than I. If anything, it's
incentive for him to climb out of the saddle!
Between the five of us, our game plan was simple. Make sure Bob & Emerson (and whoever else could keep up) hit the climb at the front of the pack. If they got off the front, even better, since only a small portion of the course (through Crockett) was relatively flat. Going into the Mc Ewen climb, the five of us did a great job controlling the pack at the front. Sure enough, we got Bob, Emerson, & Auric ahead on the climb. Not being the climbers these guys are, I fell towards the back while the front 15 riders got away. I worked with Miles and Brian from UC Davis and SF State, respectively, to try to catch them. We kept them in sight for another 3/4 of a lap almost catching them at one point, but lost sight of them at the start of the next Mc Ewen climb.

At this point, another UC Davis rider caught us, and we caught a Stanford rider who fell off the back of the leaders. It became obvious that the two UCD guys weren't interested in working together with the rest of us, since now they had each other. They got away briefly on the last lap, but I managed to keep them in sight, with the SFSU and Stanford guy behind me. Unfortunately, I passed Bob who had flatted out before the final Mc Ewen climb. Bummer, I figured he could get a podium spot with a strong effort, but I knew we at least had Emerson & Auric still in it.

During the last Mc Ewen climb, I was hurting, but I knew still had something to give. I sensed weakness amongst the other riders, and desperately wanted to hurt them. The five of us (2 UCD, SFSU, and Stanford) had regrouped at the bottom of the climb, at which point I attacked hard. I sensed no reaction from them, so I hammered hard up that damn hill. I refused to look back, so as not to show weakness. Victory be damned, I was racing for pride. I knew I had to pry as much time as possible on the climb, because there were 2 more miles to the line and not being the greatest time-trialist, I knew there was a chance I could get caught, which would be embarrassing. When I reached the top, I calculated I had at least a minute on them, so I put my head down and went into the pain cave.
Providing incentive to teammates off the back in Sunday's crit to
get back in the race! One of our guys grabbed the pictured dollar,
but was pulled the next lap. At least he got something for his efforts!

The final stretch was a mile long segment on a slight incline with crappy pavement, and a headwind to boot. About a quarter mile from behind, I saw the Stanford guy closing in, but realized he wasn't going to catch me. I rolled past the finish line feeling somewhat content that I had pulled off my first successful attack in my short-lived racing career. In the end, our team did okay, though we missed the podium: Emerson finished 6th, Auric 10th, myself 16th, Brent 21st, and Bob with a heart-breaking DNF after such a promising start. Next week is CSU Fresno with a 34 mile/2500' loop around Kearney Lake. I'll be sure to keep you guys posted!

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