Friday, March 23, 2007

2007 Bariani Road Race

2007 Bariani Road Race Summary - Mens Elite 5

Last weekend was full of racing for me. On Saturday I did the Land Park Criterium see previous post here. Since I wanted to experience both a criterium and a road race I also raced in the Bariani Road Race out in Zamora, CA. This is a 30 mile 3 lap race on some country roads with a few rolling hills and one bigger hill with a KOM (King of the Mountain) - although it is more of a hill than a mountain...

Even though I only raced for about 25 minutes on Saturday, my legs were definitely feeling it on Sunday. I carpooled with a buddy to the race. He was on the waiting list so we were hoping there would be some no shows so he could get in. We got to the race in plenty of time. Changed, and set up our trainers in the shade of the winery warehouse. The weather was great, about 72 degrees, sunny and very little wind. This course is known for windy conditions, but today we got lucky.

There we no crashes (that I heard of any ways) on Saturday, however I was hearing some riders talk about crashing on Sunday. My buddy got registered for the race with about 15 minutes to go before the start. One last bathroom stop and we were off to the starting line.

The Elite 5 35+ category started at 2:00PM, our Elite 5 open category started at 2:05PM, and the Women Elite 4 started at 2:10PM. My goals for today were to #1 finish the race, and #2 try not to come in last place. As the race got underway, the pace was fast, but not as crazy as the criterium on Saturday. We made the first right hand turn safely and started settling into a nice group of 50 riders. It was a bit dicey as people were jockeying for different positions. I was hugging the white line as close to the edge of the road as possible. That way I only had to worry about riders directly in front of me and to my left. This worked out ok for a while, but as we made another right turn I could feel that I was being exposed to the wind. The ideal position would have been on the left side of the pack to be more shielded from the wind. If you're going to stay with the pack, you need to conserver as much energy as you can by drafting.

Things were going pretty good. I was in the middle to front of the pack as we started to get into some rolling hills. That's when I started to get very nervous. Guys were braking and slowing for no apparent reason. I guess that's just the way it is in bike racing. But it was a bit nerve wracking as the guy in front of you starts braking and then you have to brake and the guy behind you has to brake etc. Just like nasty traffic on the freeway, it's a chain reaction. Since I was riding close to the edge of the road, there wasn't much room for me to swerve out of the way if something crazy happened. After a few of these slowdowns and I started to give a bit more room between my front tire and the guy's rear tire directly in front of me. As I did this riders started to move up on the outside left of the pack. Before I knew it I was at the back of the pack. I didn't really know if there was anyone behind me or not. I was totally focused on that wheel right in front of me. A lesson learned is to look around at what the pack in general is going. Pretty soon I was at the back of the pack and when a small acceleration happened I was quickly in no man's land. I put in a good dig to catch back on the rear of the pack. I hung in there for a bit longer, then another hill. These were not steep hills by any means, but the pace at which we were going up them was pretty good. Because of my previous effort to catch up, I didn't have enough to hang on for this next climb. As the pack crested the climb I was about 10-15 yards off the back. That was pretty much my last contact with the pack for the day.

Once I knew I had been dropped, my mind started racing and questioning everything. Why was I here? Do I belong here? I started doubting my skills and all those nasty negative thoughts started creeping in. F*&$ that I thought. Shut up and just ride. Once I cleared those nasty buggers out of my mind, I started to race to the best of my ability and never give up. I could still see the pack ahead of me, but as we got into the hillier section of the course they were pulling further and further away. A quick glance back and I realized I was in last place. Oh well, I just kept racing as fast as I could. Soon enough I caught up to a rider with a flat tire. I asked him if he just had a flat, he said yes, so I kept on riding. Hey, it's a race after all, otherwise I would have offered to help. On the second lap I could already see some riders were being dropped from the main pack. So now it was my goal to catch them and perhaps try to work with them. I caught up to one guy just before the hilly section and asked if he wanted some company. He said sure. So I slowed up a bit and let him catch my wheel. I pulled for a good two minutes, then when we reached the KOM, I look back and he was no where to be seen. Oh well, I'm in solo time trial mode again. As I pass the start / finish line for the second time, I can see another rider up ahead. I quickly pass him and keep on truckin. I look over to my right and I can still see the main pack. They are about 2 turns ahead of me.

I really started to feel my legs weaken on the last lap. When I got to the hills I was going a bit slower than the first two times around. I knew all I had to do was get over the KOM climb, then just a few rollers and I was done!

I finished in 1:28 with an average speed of 19.7 mph. The main pack finished in 1:17 with an average of 23.4 mph. So for my first race I was satisfied because I accomplished my 2 goals! I rode around a bit to un wind my legs. Probably should have done a cool down lap, but I just wanted to get back to the car and slam my recovery drink.

Many thanks again to the Sacramento Golden Wheelmen for putting on a great event. I'll be back next year for sure!
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