Monday, June 15, 2009

Pescadero Road Race

The day started out harmless enough. Lucas had spent the night so we got up at six and headed down to Pescadero. The roads were wet from the night before but I assumed it would burn off like it normally does.

(Jim decided not to do the race because things hadn’t gone as planned in Liberia. The malaria he was supposed to contract fell through and he ended up NOT losing ten pounds. In short: he wasn’t going to make it up the climbs. Oh snap!)

We got there with plenty of time to spare. I got reg’ed, rode around, and chatted with friends.

8:40 AM

We head off along Pescadero road toward stage. There was to be a prime within the first mile or two. I wanted to warm up so I decided to hang back (translation: I was still group riding and not racing).

Stage Road

We head up at a moderate pace without hurting too much. We crest the first peak and then begin descending toward the second climb. Apparently the road workers thought it’d be funny to put 8x8 patches of gravel on the right sides of the descent. Luckily there were none on the turns.

Hwy 84

The pace began to pick up a bit and some guys tried to go up the road. I took my arm warmers off and downed a few blocks. I kept thinking to myself something I read in an interview once: “If you’re not moving up, you’re moving back.” As the road began to climb I started to move toward the front.

I had my eye(s) on a Zteam rider who I’d talked to before the race. He had gotten top 5 at Mt. Hood in 4s so I figured his tactics would be good.

A few more attacks went. I kept looking up toward the front to see if he was there.

We turned right on Pescadero (?) Road and began climbing. The break started to come back and a second group went. The Zteam guy was in that group. Then, the moment of truth comes. “Am I group riding or racing?”

I summoned the spirit of Valverde from Thursday’s Mont Ventoux and bridged. I wasn’t actually able to summon the legs of Valverde so I looked back to see the rest of the pack sucking my wheel.

The climb seemed interminable. Although it was relatively short, I hadn’t done a hill interval since the last day of finals. I started to drop off the back of the group but a friend from Team Oakland said “Let’s go!”


I can’t believe I made it. Within seconds I’m flying down the hill. I realize I’m going way too fast into the first turn. I take the inside line as my wheels lock up. I run into the back of a Webcor rider and hit the deck. I slide for a bit then curl into a ball in the middle of the road.

Luckily no one hits me. Somewhere between the “Oh shit” moment and the time I hit the asphalt I heard “You took that turn wayyyy too fast!!” In case I was wondering.

I crawl over to the side and a spectator gets my bike off the road. I lay down. “Why do I do this to myself? Why?”

I check myself. I definitely hit my knee because it’s really hurting. There’s blood coming from my elbow and I can feel the road rash on my thigh and butt. Deep breaths.

Eventually I get up, mutter assorted expletives, and check my bike. I straighten the seat out and get on. The brakes are off so I adjust them and then head down the hill. If we had been ascending I would have waited for a car, but I figured since it was mostly downhill to Pescadero, why not?

I take the turns easier this time. There’s no way I’m going to catch back onto the group. “Why the hell did I do that?”

Of course I don’t care too much about that. All I can think about is “Can you people see this? I’m bleeding! Look how tough I am!”

Lesson: If you see a guy riding around with road rash, he’s not really hurt , he’s just showboating. If he were, he’d be in an ambulance.

I catch up with some guys who fell off the back and we start working together. My knee is a bit sore but it works. We make it back to the start/finish and have one more lap. I’m not hurting that bad so I could do one more with them. Then the excuses begin.

“Oh but my arm, what if it gets infected.”

“My brake pads are off, I can’t descend like this!”

“What if I crash again??”

“There’s no way I can catch back up, it’s pointless.”

“It’s my last day with my family before I leave!”

Blah, blah, blah.

I give one last pull then turn around and head back to the car.

Despite the carnage I was excited to see this Olympic edition Cervelo. I had seen one at Bike Nut in SF but never out on the roads.

That’s bike racing.

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