I’ve had some requests for my race reports. And that’s nice. I like hearing that.
I used to write a report after each race, but this year, it’s been different. I have done three bike races so far this season, and the reason why I have neglected to write about them is because now that I’ve entered the rock’n’roll world that is racing in Category 3, that being one up from the entry level of Category 4, I have very little time to think and analyze. All I can do is do.
So, so far this year, I have one last place at the Menlo Park Criterium (but you should have seen my attack!), one DNF at the Wards Ferry Road Race (a broken cleat!), and this brings us to the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race last Friday at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Some people nowadays call it Mazda International Raceway, and I think that is wrong.
The Sea Otter Classic is supposed to one of the biggest, if not biggest, bike racing festivals in the world. It is four days of bike racing entertainment, including BMX, bike jumping, cross-country mountain bike racing, dual slalom, road racing, adventure racing, bike baseball, bike curling and, my favorite, interpretive bike dance.
The circuit race takes place on the track itself. It’s mostly flat, with slight undulations, not counting a super-steep climb that takes you to the carousel, which is your reward for surviving the super-steep climb.
It race is fifty minutes long, so that the faster you go, the more laps you have to do.
Actually, someone in Miguel’s race figured that out. He was urging the pack to slow down, Miguel said, and he was being serious.
My goal was very simple. All I wanted was to stay with the group for more laps than in my prior three attempts, which has thus far been one-quarter of a lap, one quarter-of a lap, and one-half of a lap, respectively.
If I could improve on that, I’d be very happy.
Fast forward two laps after the race’s start. I announced, probably prematurely, and much likely much too loudly, “I achieved my goal!”
The next four or five laps replayed a variation of this theme: sometimes, I would get slightly dropped on the big climb, but I could catch back on on the descents. Other times, when I really talked myself into it, I learned that I have a much higher pain tolerance than I thought, and I could climb just as fast as anyone.
But then something else would happen, which is that I thought I might black out, or at least puke, but who really needs to know this. Then that descent would come and there’d be peace in the valley.
Every time we’d cross Start/Finish, I’d try to emotionally prepare myself for the accelerations for that first climb, which presented an entirely new racing experience for me, now that I was still with the front runners.
You see, in years past, I never realized that first part was a climb. That was not a section of the course where we, as in, those who’d been dropped, would expend effort. I mean, why do that, when you have that whole real climb to do that.
This was quite a shocker. I had to change my game plan. I tried an attack myself, and managed to move up to the middle of the pack, only to get shot to the back again when we really started climbing.
On the bell lap, Alexis Waddel, the race winner, attacked on that same section. Now, as I said, this is where we’d see attacks, but when I say Alexis attacked, I must apply a new definition. She attacked and broke away, before the big climb. She deserves the win. What a ballsy, no, not ballsy. What an estrogenated move. Holy smokes.
That will be my goal next year.
Well, one of these years.
Alexis strung out the entire field, and up ahead, I could see my teammate Laurie fighting her way to the crest of the climb. Which reminds me of something my other teammate Nikole said about Laurie, after she won Wards Ferry: “Just think how fast we’ll be when we’re fifty.”
Does it work like that?
Back to the final climb, as I was already at redline, what could I do but redline again, and just try to pass somebody, anybody.
So I passed the girl who dropped her chain.
Hey, I’m not bragging. You take what you can get.
The support crew in the sag vehicle fixed her chain, and then she blew by me as we neared the crest, only to come coasting to a stop when her chain broke, this time fatally. It dragged on the ground as specators yelled in unison, “Awwwwwww.”
I glided by her, like she was standing still. Because she was. Hey, that’s racing.
I was 18th out of 100 more or much (much) less. I think Laurie was 11th or 12th. Laurie played a much bigger factor in this race, as she led many charges, and by that I mean that she made it to the front, and pulled hard and tired people out, something I just did not have the legs to do.
After her first charge, in fact, I had a panicked thought, which was, “Katie, getting dropped by your own teammate would be bad form. Git, git!”
Which goes to show that I would not have done this well without her in this race. That is a bonafide fact.
And so now I need to tell you about my cycling team, which I have neglected to mention on these pages. Formerly dubbed the “Old Angry Men,” Team Mako has since opened its doors to all ages and genders. You can read more about our team here and here (guess which one I manage).
Every race, we have some sort of plan. Most plans have thus far been centered around “finishing,” because it is a little known fact that to win the race, one must finish the race. So I think I have the finishing part down, and I believe it is merely a matter of time for me.