Saturday, February 23, 2013

Copper town

This week was a little bit light on the training but I was consistent in getting out to ride, and feeling pretty good for my race on the weekend. Kelsey's parents were in town to help set up our spare bedroom in anticipation of the new member of our family.

But before we get to the race, I have an update about the tour of California bike race. The pros will yet again be visiting NorCal and the queen stage is finishing on mount diablo. A video was posted describing the different stages and one of my teammates who works for the diablo state park was asked to describe part of the route. He is the guy in the ranger outfit towards the end of the video below.

Amgen tour of California route

I also got an email from a teammate regarding the video and one of the other people in the video. See below for a great story about a local cyclist.

"At the beginning description to the Mt Diablo stage, there’s a shaved headed chubby guy in an orange jersey. For those newbies who’ve only been riding for fifteen years or so, that’s George Mount. Local boy from Berkeley, fourth in the Montreal Olympic Road Race. First American to race the Giro. Fourth in The Milk Race, won the Red Zinger (precursor the Coors Classic), etc, etc. He quit racing in ’81 or ’82, moved back to the Bay Area and made a fortune in high tech sales. In ’90 or so, he casually raced locally for a couple years. He’d show up, chubby, on an old steel bike with downtube shifters and a six speed cogset and old wool shorts. Few people knew who he was, but invariably, he’d attack midway through the race, win solo and go home, people asking, who was that guy? He took to putting a bell on his handlebars, which he’d ding preceding each attack – just to give everyone a fair warning. It didn’t help us at all. He was known as Smilin’ George, because when a race would be at its most miserable – think Snelling, in the rain and you’re being guttered trying to get in the echelon – George would casually ride alongside the suffering mortals and smile at each and every one of us. It was completely demoralizing. He was a god and will always be a hero of mine. In ’92 or ’93, when I was younger, skinnier and could climb somewhat, he passed me like a bolt of lightning near the saddle during the Mountain Challenge. He was on a fixed gear. Wearing cut off blue jeans. And an old leather hairnet. He was kind enough to smile when he passed."

On to the race. The copper town circuit race is held in copperopolis and consists of a 5 mile lap on rolling terrain. Our field was 44 deep with one team having about ten riders in the field. From previous experience I knew that it was important to be at the front at the 2 turnaround points as it bunches up and crashes are more likely to happen there. I had one teammate in the race and 2 other friends from a different team. The race started fast and because it was only 60 minutes long, it was expected to stay fast. The one team with many riders started off the attacking early and it would continue this way throughout the race. One of their riders would attack and then someone from a different team would chase and the field would follow. Once the rider was caught, a different rider from their team would attack. It was textbook team tactics if you have a numbers advantage , attack the field until they give up and one of your riders gets away.

Unfortunately for their team, we consistently pulled back the attackers and the race never was too hard to drop anyone from the field. I kept my nose clean for the first 2 laps and stayed near the front at the turnarounds. On the third lap I almost had a crash as a rider came around the outside of me at one of the turnarounds and bumped my arm, pushing my handlebar and steering my away from the turn. I leaned on the rider a little bit, regained my direction, and moved through the corner without further incident. By the last turnaround I was in about 20th position and knew I needed to move up to be in a better position for the sprint finish.

Inside the last 2 miles, the speed picked up significantly and I started to look for a way to move up as everyone was fighting for position. I made a move up the outside of the field but was unable to get far as we were moving over 30 mph. I blew up trying move up and tucked back in for another effort. This time I had a tow to the front as someone else was trying to make the same move. Unfortunately the result was the same as he blew up from the effort and we were both shuffled back. Coming up to the last few hundred meters, I wasn't in a position to contest the sprint and sat up to roll through the finish. 33rd place was my official finishing position.

The good news is that I felt good throughout the race and was able to move up in the field much better than I have before and I was in a good position up until the last 2km. After getting back from the race I had to make a trip to the bike shop to drop off my newest bike. Specialized had ordered a recall on my bike as there was a potential for the front fork to break. I needed to bring the bike in so that they could ship the fork to a testing facility and stress test the fork. It was supposed to take up to 2 weeks but I got a call that my bike was back in less than a week.

YouTube Video

On Monday I got sick again. It seemed like a relapse of my norovirus problems from Christmas and I was worried that this was going to put out of commission for a week like at Christmas. Luckily, it was only bad for 2 days and I was back at work and training within 4 days. I have a few weeks before my next race and plan on doing a heavy training program to build my fitness for the faster/longer races to come.
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