2013 Collegiate Racing Season
Standford Race Weekend, 3/9 – 10/2013, Morgan Hills,CA & Paicines, CA
I was definitely dreading this race, as I remembered it being pretty climb-ey, and you all know me, if the road kicks up more than 3%, I’m done. Surprisingly, the first 10-12 miles weren’t that bad. Then it got hard, I got dropped, end of story. I didn’t get last though, so goal accomplished! Kristin did awesome and stuck in way longer than me, and it was super cool to have another girl in UCSD colors.
PS, this road race is epic and beautiful. Rolling, and remote, cute little country road, and none of the climbs are sustained too long. I highly recommend more people attend next year.
The field was really big!! Like 20 people! Going into the race, I knew there was a chance to keep it together for a pack sprint, because there were a number of teams with 2-3 riders, enough for us all to work together, but I knew it would be hard.
Right from the gun, Danny from Davis attacked, and the race never really let up, but nothing stuck. Stanford was finally racing aggressively, and I did a ton of work chasing both Stanford and Davis trying to keep it together for a field sprint. I don’t know if this was the right move, but I chose to always bring the pack up to breaks instead of bridging! I just really wanted to try a bigger field sprint! The whole race was fast (~26 mph average, which is screaming for women), aggressive, and a ton of fun. I managed to pick up a few primes points, but I was always careful not to go *too* hard on the prime sprints, cause that’s when attacks that stick tend to happen.
About 9 laps to go, I thought I was bringing the pack up to a break of Stanford, Davis, and Berkeley, but when I looked over my shoulder I realized we had a good gap. After some internal grumbling about being in a break, we all worked together marginally well. Until about 2 laps to go it looked like it would stay, with all the big teams represented, but for some unknown reason Davis started attacking and chasing from the field, and pulled the pack up to us with 1.5 to go. (Weird b.c Judith the other Davis girl in the break is a strong sprinter, she would’ve been 1st or 2nd) At that point I figured I was done, and didn’t really fight to keep front pack position for the sprint, which I’m bummed about now, because I still ended up mid-pack sprinting from the back, so maybe I could’ve dug just a little bit deeper.
Lesson learned: don’t give up even if your break gets caught
I’m glad I was there for the only move that had even a prayer of working, and I’m glad to have been a part of such a lovely and aggressive women’s race. Y’all can stop make fun of us for singing and going on coffee shop rides then sprinting at the very end :).
UCSB Race Weekend, 3/2 – 3/2013, Goleta, CA & Santa Maria, CA
The team time trial definitely took something out of me for the road race. I went hard for the TTT and I paid for it an hour and a half later in the road race. At the start, a rider from USC made a comment about making the race a coffee ride – I was having none of it. At the whistle I set out with a moderate pace, not hard at all, and easily gapped the field by a few hundred meters. At the least I wanted the pace to go up, and maybe someone would join me for a 40 mile break/sufferfest. After the 1st turn into the headwind, the peloton finally caught up and I sat in at the front doing some work, but not much. The climb on the first lap is what did my race in. I knew I couldn’t climb fast at the moment, so I headed to the front and hoped I could catch on the back by the end but I couldn’t keep up. The rest of my race became a training ride, going threshold the whole way so it wasn’t a complete waste.
After the previous day’s events, I had a lot of difficulty getting out of bed. And I was worried about how I was going to do. Surprisingly, as the race started I felt good and did a lot of work for the first half. A good warm-up is vital. Avocados too. Though not the smartest tactical move, I wanted to test myself so I took many pulls and reeled in a break with 7 to go after letting it dangle for a few laps. The last third of the race I sat in, recovered, and was moving to the front again. Coming in to the last lap, I had decent position (not great), but the peloton was going way too slow. Usama had mentioned after the race that he knew there was going to be a crash based solely on the pace being set at the front. No one in the C’s, except a select few riders, does any work and today the bunch wasn’t strung out enough leading to two crashes coming into the last turn. A rider on the inside slid out taking a large part of the field with him. I was on the outside where another rider took it too wide and hit the curb taking out 1 or 2 riders, one of which I bumped shoulders as he tried to save it. Unfortunately, that disrupted my sprint just enough and I finished in the back of the riders that weren’t on the pavement.
Men’s B Road Race:
Start: My race started with a masterful clip in. My cleat just instantly grab my pedal and I was off. Not really important to the race, but it felt amazing.
Laps 1-3: Anyways, the race stayed together the first three laps. No one did any work on the flats so the pace just kept speeding up and down as people tried to attack and failed. The group definitely pushed the climbs, but I felt fine with the pace and didn’t have any trouble holding position. The descent was terrible for me the first couple of laps because I kept getting stuck in a huge crack in the middle of the road. Also the feed zone was complete chaos, but I found Pat quickly after the second lap and easily got my feed.
Lap 4: On the backside flat, the pace jumped up quick. A couple guys on the front just drilled it and kept us above 30 for at least 5 miles. The pack split into four groups with a couple bike lengths between each group. Ben, Ed and I were all in the third group. Ed jumped really quickly to the next group, but Ben and I missed his wheel. Ben dug deep and took a long pull and I came around him to finish the pull to the second group. The second group eventually caught the first group, but the pace still didn’t ease up. A little before the second climb everyone slowed down and got quiet. We hit the climb and Stanford launched an attack. I believe JD from SDSU followed and counter attacked. Both put in a huge gap on the field and at that moment I knew JD was going to take the win. On the descent I was able to get to the outside and avoid the huge crack in the road, but at the cost of not getting the best position for the group sprint. I started to move my way up along the center line when space opened up, but there were still riders blocking my way for the sprint. Near the bottom of the final climb a small hole opened up and I decided it’s now or never. I knew it was too early, but I had to go. I passed Ed and found myself in 3rd (first in the group) about 30 meters from the finish, but legs were dying. I kept going as hard as I could, but it wasn’t enough. I blew up just before the finish and ended up 7th. It was a much better result than I was expecting before the race so I am happy, but of course not satisfied.
UCLA/USC Race Weekend, 2/16 – 17/2013, Juniper Hills, CA & Culver City, CA
Men’s B UCLA Road Race:
Going into this weekend I was told that the UCLA road race is like Boulevards sister. However, it was more like Boulevards big brother with more climbing and more milage. When I first started thinking about the course, the only thing going through my head was, “1500 feet of climbing per lap.” Some may have looked at this as a negative but I have always seemed to embrace rides and races with more climbing because it brings out the best in all of us. Once I knew the course discription, I immediately started to think of strategies and remembering from Boulevard that soloing the last 5 miles might not be the best idea.
At the start of the race it was a chilly 36 degrees. Needless to say I couldn’t get a very good warm up, my feet were freezing and I couldn’t feel my hands. At the start, the vibe in the atmosphere was that the first lap would be kind of a warm up lap and I couldn’t have agreed more. The first lap goes by and I start to get a terrible pain in the right side of my stomach for some unknown reason. I suffer through the second lap bearing the pain as long as possible and almost thinking of falling off the back (it hurt a lot). To my surprise, after the the second lap the pain had subsided and my decision to push forward with the field was paying off. On the third lap, one of the kids from UCSB got out front and set a hard tempo up the 1500 foot ascent. A couple people fell off but I was able to comfortably stay with the group and recover on the descent. Going into the last lap I was feeling great and knew I had to break up the group to increase my chances of getting a win. I told myself that I needed to set a solid pace up the climb and eliminate any potential competitors and thats exactly what I did. While keeping a handful of guys on my wheel including three UCSD riders, I powered up the climb one last time scattering the entire field. When I looked back at the top of the climb I then knew exactly who I needed to look out for. Recovering on the downhill and the flat, I waited behind the UCSB rider who I thought would be a contender for the win. With 400 to go he jumps up and starts his move. I quickly locked onto his rear wheel and with 100 to go I could see he was only getting slower, so I stomped on the pedals and accelerated ahead and never looking back. It was me and the finish line and as fast as I could get there. Crossing the finish and looking back I realized I had taken the win!
Men’s D USC Criterium:
USC’s Crit was my second race, ever. At Red Trolley my strategy was to stay at the end of the main pack, but that didn’t work so this time I was determined to stay within sight of the main pack. The race was postponed about half an hour because the fences and hay bales were not setup in time. I had already warmed up on a trainer so I was ready to start, but trying not to cool down or get impatient. USC’s plan was to have a clinic before the race for new riders, but the majority (>95%) of the riders had already raced a crit before so there were many a groan when instead of starting the race we took a couple of practice laps as a group. Then when we all thought the race was going to start we had to wait for the hay to be swept and the start/finish line marked. So when the race finally began I had started in the second row and was holding position in the front half. The course was flat, but had two corners that had storm drain dips in the road. If the line around the corner was not wide enough the rear wheel hit hard on the bank of the dip. I think this was the reason Daniel’s tire blew out in the first couple of laps. About half way through the 25min race I was boxed in the middle of the pack when the guy to my left took a drink of his water bottle. He was slightly behind me so I didn’t think much of it and held my line. That’s when he bumped into me. If I hadn’t had my hands in the drops I’m sure we would have hooked handle bars. Even so I felt his wobbling as he tried to regain control. When he uttered an “I’m sorry” I knew he hadn’t gone down, but I knew not to get behind him just in case he made any more mistakes. On a few of the turns I had enough momentum and energy to make my way closer to the front. This helped when the preem laps were announced and the front took off. With a few laps to go I got behind Ian and knew I had to get ready for the final sprint. With one lap to go I had started falling behind because I had been so determined to stay near the front that I used up more energy than I should have. That’s when I heard a loud pop and saw Ian’s front wheel wobble. Apparently another rider had driven his rear axle into Ian’s front wheel. I think I made it somewhere in the 15th-20th place, but (get ready for some cheesiness) I feel like I won because I achieved what I set out to do, which was to stay with the front pack and finish the race.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Race Weekend, 2/9 – 10/2013, San Luis Obispo, CA & Santa Maria, CA
Men’s A Road Race:
This race was about timing and more importantly, luck. An early solo break by UCSB sped up the road. The first pee break was shortly after the first lap. I took the opportunity to second UC Davis recommendation for the break and quickly pulled over. After that, we got back up to speed.
Nothing else quite happened until the middle of the third lap when I found myself sitting 3rd wheel behind a Davis rider. He wanted me to pull through his 15mph pace but I declined. After 15 seconds of that business, I passed him since no other riders were awake. Except for 2 guys: Santa Clara and Davis. Both riders were of average/dweebier stature. We opened a 30 meter gap at 18mph without trying. We quickly agreed that we would for a break.
We took turns about 20 seconds at first. Both guys were on tubulars, I am not *just a note. I had already had a banana, powerbar (worst bar for cycling), and margarita shot blocks (the worst flavor, sandy too, but works magic: 3x sodium). I don’t have a computer but we probably averaged 23-25mph in most places. We caught the solo UCSB guy on the back of the third lap. He was hanging on for dear life. He only lasted about 10km. After he fell off, we continued on. I had an E-gel and led into the last 2 laps the other guys started to slow.
We had an encounter with the A’s. We caught them and to make a long story short, after lots of stress, commotion, yelling and cursing, I was passing the A’s peloton leaders in the dirt on the outside. Looked back and saw the other guys following, and pressed on.
I worked about 60% of the effort. Just before the finish with one lap to go, the UCSB fell off the back. Shortly after the first roller, the Davis guy hollered “Im eating” so I backed off so he could catch my wheel. He was pacing but about 15 feet back. I looked back 2x more over the next 10 seconds and he wasn’t helping the cause, so I just decided to ride on.
After the hairpin, I was caught by the A’s breakaway 8 men strong. It was nice seeing other riders. I chased, passed, rolled to the back, and passed the 8 man echelon numerous times, being sure not to “draft”. The referee assured me he would not neutralize me because “it would be unfair” since I was in a solo break. Then I knew we would win. I zipped up my UCSD jersey and backed off the A break before the last corner.
It was a fun race and had great timing and luck. Thanks to my teammates for helping us win and great job this weekend everyone.
Men’s D’s Road Race
Having warmed up with the TTT, I sat on a trainer staying warm thinking about positioning and the course I had just rode on. About 5 minutes before the race started we gathered at the start line squishing as far forward as we could. I saw Kristaps in great position already and I made a note to just stick his wheel for the next race so I could start with such good positioning. We set off at a fast pace, I was really enjoying the draft I was getting from the pack but I didn’t like how far back I was. I moved up quickly along the edge until I ran into one rider who had decided to not grab a wheel (he plays an important part in a bit). He was constantly exerting a lot of energy to just keep up, and then he would drop back quickly, and speed up again because he would tire himself out, recover, and try to reclaim his position. I didn’t like riding behind him so I tried moving into the peloton again. I was battling for a wheel when the first downhill came, we sped up and I decided to let the guy I was battling with take the wheel and I would stick to his. I moved into the pack, was feeling great, and then it happened. The rider from before that was up along the side of the pack, had come back up again and boxed me in, I wasn’t too worried. Then the rider that I was behind started to brake for some reason, and not wanting to break, I let my wheel overlap his wheel a bit. This is where things went downhill fast. He decided to shift his line to the left very quickly, his rear wheel grabbed my front wheel and before I could react he had swiped my wheel out from under me and I went down knocking the rider to my left (the one who had kept moving up and down the pack) down with me. At that point there was a group of riders who went down, and those behind us just blew past. As soon as I went down the first thing that went through my mind was how I could recover my position and catch the lead group. I was in the VERY back and was determined to start catching groups. The race quickly turned into an ITT with other riders I could use to draft off of. I came across a Cal Poly guy, a Davis rider, and my teammate Ryan Fanant during the first lap, but they were too spread out, and too tired to all close each other gaps. Once I reached Ryan he let me draft and sent me on my way, he said he popped and couldn’t keep the pace, so thank you for your help man, I know it was hard. By the second lap I was starting to see a group of three ahead of me and I set my eyes on catching them, but every time I failed to close the gap my legs wanted to stop, I stopped listening to them about ¾ through the lap. I powered through and caught the group by the start of the third lap but they were riding as if they were on a Sunday morning coffee ride, much less a race. I finished going hard, far ahead of the other groups, but still 10 or 15 minutes behind the main peloton, if you could call it that at that point. Stuff happens in a race and it’s tough when it happens during a race you feel good in, you live and you learn and hop back on the bike. But in the end, I had fun pushing myself hard, and if anything, I think I felt sad that I ran out of groups to try to catch by the end of it. :P
UC San Diego Race Weekend, 2/2 – 2/2013, Boulevard, CA & Mira Mesa, CA
Boulevard Road Race:
I’ve been bicycling all my life, and long-distance road cycling for about two years, but Boulevard 2013 was the first competitive speed event I had ever done on a bicycle. About 4 minutes before the start of the race I realized I left my sunglasses in someone’s car, and the best I could find was a pair of boxy Oakley’s from one of my teammates. I snapped a picture of myself and some other UCSD riders at the starting line, hoping this would be the only mishap.
After a brief safety briefing from the race official, the whistle blew and we were off. The first thing that struck me was the slow pace, I guess I had expected a dead sprint from the starting line, but within the first mile I found myself struggling to keep pace with the front of the pack, desperate not to get dropped. This was my worst fear. I could feel the pressure of all of the riders behind me, inches off my back wheel, and my breath started to catch in my throat, like it does when you jump into a pool that’s way too cold. I’m not normally a nervous guy but I was worried I was having a panic attack.
After a couple more corners we started a long winding descent where we hit speeds over 40mph and I started feeling better. This is the kind of riding I like to do, I just had to get used to doing it a lot faster than usual. I quickly got used to the way the peloton would huddle together in a group, all of us drafting off of each other, and tighten up into a straight line as we hit higher speeds. I managed to stay close to the front of the pack for most of the race, and I led for a few miles, foregoing the coach’s advice against it and relying instead on my experience from long-distance, non-competitive rides. In a double-century, when you’re at the front of the pack it’s your turn to pull. In a race, this is a great way to wear yourself out.
I pushed myself to maintain a high speed on a slight uphill into the wind with 50 or 60 riders right behind me. When I started to get tired, I discovered the sinking feeling that comes when your legs and lungs are on fire and other riders start passing you on both sides. My fear of getting dropped returned so I summoned up just enough strength to get behind one of the riders passing me and soon discovered the strange feeling of resting while riding uphill. That’s a tough one to explain.
There was one more long uphill before some rolling uphills and downhills leading to the finish line, and this is where the breakaway group made their move. I did my best to keep up with them but I was maxed out and losing ground. I lost sight of the breakaway group but managed to stay with the lead riders of the rest of the group, and by the time we got to the top of that last, long uphill and started descending again I started to feel better and picked up speed, along with two or three other riders.
The group was thinned out by this point, several guys riding alone with several bike lengths between them. I got behind a rider who was sprinting to catch the breakaway group and was surprised to find that I had the energy to keep up with him. When he started to slow down I passed him and pushed ahead myself until I also began to slow, and then my teammate Akinori Mitani suddenly passed me. I got behind him and we picked up the pace again, both of us out of the saddle.
When he sat down and slowed a little bit, I drafted for a minute or so and then pulled around him, calling over my shoulder that I would pull for a while, since he’s our resident climber and I wanted to help him as much as I could. He was running out of steam and called out for me to go ahead, we were almost to the finish line. I hadn’t realized the end was so close, so I stood up again and put in what little sprint I had left in me, finishing in 8th place and about ten seconds or so ahead of Aki, one rider in between us.
It was a gratifying feeling to finish in the top 10 riders in my first race, and even more so knowing that had I not been able to draft behind Aki during that last sprint, there’s no way I would have been able to do that. I was struggling not to collapse over my handlebars, but it was the perfect end to my first competitive race, and my introduction to being part of a cycling team.
Red Trolley Criterium:
Waking up on Sunday after Saturday’s race and corner shifts had left my muscles stiff, but the warm down I did on Saturday helped. The bikes arrived 15min before the race and were offloaded 10min before the race. I did 2 laps for my warm up and got a position at the end of the group for the start. After the start I made my way up to the front in my first two laps. Several attacks attempts were quickly neutralized. The group was very chaotic on the corners and very few of the group found any good line to take a corner. Soon after the start the first finish was announced. The little hill before the start/finish line had left an impact on my cold muscles and when people tried to sprint my legs just refused to obey and I got dropped. I was taken off soon after. After the finish I took note of the people who were attacking to know who to watch out for in the future.