Ken Gallardo and Chris Phipps took the top steps of the podium in the 35+ 123 race at the Monterey Circuit Race, while Ron Castia and Duane Coughlan had solid top 10 placings.
Date: January 30, 2011
Event: CCCX Circuit Race #1
Field: 16 starters/12 finishers
Teammates: Chris Phipps (2nd), Ron Castia (9th), Duane Coughlan (10th), Greg McQuaid (DNF, flatted)
Time/Distance: 75 minutes/6 laps/24 miles
Warning: I tend to write rather lengthy race reports, so for those of you who just want the Strava, I attacked a mile into the race, soloed for two laps until Phipps bridged up, then suffered on his wheel for the rest of the race, except the last lap, when he sat in my draft to recover for the P/1/2/3 race. It was fantastic to get my first 35+1/2/3 win after several 2nd places last season and great teamwork all around. Really looking forward to the next race!
Earlier in the week, I was soaking up the sun, getting in a few long rides (76 miles on Tues & Thurs, 72 miles on Sat) working on my base building and weight loss program. The weather was so nice and I knew several guys were planning to race Sunday, so I decided to join the fun and make it a nice hard workout in support of Chris and Greg. Of course, after I registered for the race on Friday night, I was informed by some buddies that rain was the forecast for Sunday (sorry to bring the bad weather guys!). Well, after analyzing the weather radar, I decided to go suffer anyway. Again, it’s a training race, might as well get in a good hard ride.
Chris had put out a couple of suggestions for team tactics during the week and it seemed like the attack, attack, attack plan would work really well for this course. I arrived early (my New Year’s resolution), picked up my race number and started my pre-race routine. I rode a check-out lap with Dan Palmer and found I could big ring (because I race with a compact) all the climbs and the descent was fast and clean. I thought to myself, well, if I attack and get enough of a gap, I’ll be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Huge THANK YOU to Ron for bringing a pop-up tent to the race – we were able to warm-up in relative comfort during the rain showers that came and went during the race before ours. (Ron, please let me know if I can purchase another one of those babies – they are awesome!). Anyway, my legs were certainly feeling the long week during the warm-up, but I got in a couple good efforts to open up all the energy systems and felt pretty good. A few minutes before our start, I changed into my race jersey, threw on a rain vest and rolled over to the start to line up with my teammates for the first race of 2011.
As we were listening to the instructions from the Referee, I noticed that Hernandez had shed his jacket and had no arm warmers on. Uh oh – he’s planning to go hard from the start (just like seeing Jens Voigt wearing shorts and short sleeves in pouring rain) and as the ref was blowing the whistle I was stuffing my vest into my back pocket and then playing catch up as Ron jumped off the front. Fortunately, I got on a wheel right away and was already warmed up, so I caught up to the field pretty quickly and with the slight crosswind forcing the field into an echelon, I was nicely sheltered in my cruise up the pack. I finally could see Ron on the front with Hernandez and then Phipps in tow, and I felt good, so as the road started to turn upwards, I attacked up the left side of the road. Oh, my legs didn’t like that, but I told them to stop whining and kept up the attack, working hard to turn a high cadence and get a nice gap so nobody could easily jump across. I kept looking back and didn’t see anyone attacking, so I just kept going at my pace, trying to stay out of the wind and get out of sight around corners and past the brush and trees lining the course.
I worked hard the whole first lap and it looked like I was opening up a gap, so I focused the second lap on maintaining a consistent pace in case they decided to leave me out to fry. It was great to know that I had several strong teammates in the field to soft pedal and block and chase bridge attempts, so I was confident that if someone came across, we’d still have an advantage. Partway through the 2nd lap, I glanced back and could see a few people trying to bridge. After a couple of rollers, it was just one guy. By the time I reached the next roller, I could see it was a teammate and I figured it was Phipps, since he was closing rapidly. I soft pedaled the descent and flat afterwards and Chris rolled up. As he took to the front he told me that if we stayed away, the win was all mine. Wow, talk about motivation – get my first win? I’m ALL IN for that! And so it was. In one lap we’d extended our lead and the pack was no longer in sight. The fourth lap, Chris was on fire and I was dying just trying to stay in his minuscule draft, but we managed to figure out a way for me to overlap him to get more draft in the crosswinds and then I was able to recover and take more pulls. Chris let me lead the descents and corners and he’d pull me up the hills while we split the flat and false flat sections. By the time we got the bell, we’d built enough lead that I told Chris to just sit in the final lap since he was planning another race and I’d be heading home.
It was fantastic to cross the line side-by-side and very motivating for me to get my act together with my weight loss and training. I’m already a third of the way to my race weight goal of 160 lbs and almost at last year’s race weight. The bottle of wine for winning the race (a Ravenswood Zin) will be coming along to training camp and I’m excited about this race season.