8 Weeks

Posted: August 9, 2010 in road race

8 Weeks. That’s how long it has been since I thought of anything else other than the Patterson Pass Road Race. Every pedal turn, every sprint, every climb, every weight lifted, every dessert skipped, every pound lost… PPRR was there. Why would a self professed track enduro racer/road sprinter have the idiotic idea to do one of the toughest, hilliest, windiest road races on the NCNCA calendar? Because it’s in my back yard, because it’s the main geographic feature the my regular Monday ride,  because I wanted to try and support a teammate who is one of those sickly climber types, but mostly because it is one of the toughest, hilliest, windiest road races on the NCNCA calendar. Shortly after I committed myself to untold pain and suffering that is Patterson, I was lamenting my poor decision to do the race to the multi-talented and super awesome Shelley Evans at the Testarossa Velodrome Challenge where her sage advice was, “just put in the work and you’ll do fine.”

So I got busy putting in the work. I went 2 on 1 off. That is 2 balls out efforts on Monday and Tuesday. Active Recovery on Wednesday, then balls out Thursday and Friday again. Throw in a handful of long rides some Sundays off and the work was put in.

In those 8 weeks I climbed that hill 13 times. What’s the best way to climb it? Go easy at the bottom then progressively harder as you approach the top? Or is it, go hard at the bottom, easy in the middle, then hard at the top? Where are the critical areas where I typically lose time? What is the best way to get through them? Where can I gain time? Questions, questions, questions. Well, I found out the right way to do it. I even made it over the thing a couple of times to hook up with the A group on Monday before the descent, though, I never could beat the ultimate super-domestique Ken Hernandez to the top.

What to say about Ken? No reason to do it other than his own satisfaction, but of the 13 times I went up the hill Ken was there pacing me 11 of them. He even turned around to come and pace me after I had a flat, 10 miles earlier. What an awesome teammate!

Going into the race I felt strong and rested, and I was riding better than ever. I got to the race early bound to not waste any nervous energy this time, unlike Modesto. Pinned on my number and did my warmup, which was harder than usual, but worked well. There were goats heads everywhere in the parking area so I checked the tires. Upon inspection, 10 minutes before the start,I noticed that my sidewall had split during my warmup. I thought my race was going to be over before it began. Panic began to set in when seemingly no one had a spare tire. Where was my spare wheel? It was at home since there were no follow vehicles.  Then I was asked, by Ken, if I had a boot. Lightbulb! Tire booted, inflated to 85psi and I was ready to line up. When I got to the Start line, I was ~40th out of 48 in line. Not good. I wanted to be much further up. Crap! As we started, it was evident that I was going to have trouble moving up until the climb started to take its toll. Unfortunately, when the big split occurred, I needed to thread myself through a few riders and by the time I was in position, the main group was already too far up the road for me to catch on the remaining part of the climb. I figured that a good many of those would blow up eventually, and I would catch them on the 2nd lap. After I crested the hill, I made it my mission to catch the moto-ref, which I did.  Then my mission was to catch and pass people one at a time and “race” my power meter. I passed a few guys on the descent. Coming towards the bottom, I came upon a Webcor rider who was descending awfully slow. I shouted out to him and he responded with something that sounded like “gsdfhgatjqahahadhgadg.” It turned out that he was a pretty good climber but deathly afraid of going fast downhill.

After he caught me on the Flynn climb, I gave him some pointers and hoped that he would shake his fear. We caught a couple more guys and came to the start/finish line as a group of 4. I had done most of the work up to that point and the other riders in the group seemed to be weaker than me, so I made it my mission to win my group of 4. After the 2nd time up Patterson, beating the other 3 was assured since the only one left was descent boy. I blew him off and then just went into TT mode trying to catch up with the P/1/2s who were dropping off the back and cruising in. I was really disappointed that I hadn’t been catching any people in my race, but I was heartened that I was catching people (mostly M35+ Cat 4s). As I was beginning to approach the Midway climb, I noticed a bunch of riders strung out on the climb, where I hadn’t seen them earlier. I figured that if I could catch and pass one person in my field, then all of the work that I had put in “racing” my power meter would be worth it. I was ready to put in a massive effort on the climb and then, at the base, a rancher starts to drive this massive bull and cow across the road. The bull stopped right smack dab in the middle of the road and stared at me. I wish I would have thought to pull out my cell phone and snap a picture. That would have been better than any trophy or t-shirt.  After clipping back in, the adrenaline had faded and I just went up the climb at a reasonable pace. Then, I bombed the descent, passed a half dozen people, most of whom didn’t have race numbers, and I did pass a member of my field. Yay for me! Actually, I passed 2 members of my field, but I realized it while the 2nd one was sprinting past me at the line. My sprint never really got started and his sprint was impeded by none other than Ken Hernandez, who was turning his car around at the finish line after a long day working registration. Thanks Ken. I ended up 30th out of 48.

Epilogue: I really have mixed feelings about my performance. I trained hard and well, I stuck to my plan and learned a lot. I raced hard, but I thought I would have done better than 30th. I guess I just need to chalk this one up to a good race with a poor result. Incidentally, the spot where the bull stopped in the middle of the road was the same place that I was stopped earlier in the year on a training ride by a horse that had gotten out of its field. I think that the rancher needs to hire some better help or buy some smarter animals. Thanks to Gordon, Frank, and Andrew for flying the VSRT colors with me, Zaf and Scott for doing feedzone for us and Dean for coming out to cheer. Special thanks to my wife and daughter who not only put up with me for the last 8 weeks, but came out to cheer anyway. Then there’s Ken. Thanks man, for everything!


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