Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Diamond Valley Road Race - 3rd place

I showed up at the race with my mind set on winning. I was a little in awe of the strength of the competition in the C group as I signed up - there were some excellent riders out there. That's ok though, every race is different and things are more interesting with a tough mixed bunch on the starting line.

We set off and maintained the usual reasonable pace from the start, in fact I led off for a while. Down the Carson River road and things sped up. People came past me then but that was fine, my main goal was to relax and conserve early on.

On the first climb things got tough. I remembered how hard these climbs were and the mind always starts playing tricks on you as you look around the field at people who seem to be finding it easier than it feels to you. First climb out of the way and the group stayed together. The second climb began to separate people a little more and I got a little worried as I started to get dropped. Jeff B pulled a stunt and blasted past us all up the climb but then hung back and waited for the pack. A strong mental victory for Jeff though - I thought he was going to race to the end solo from there (another 16 miles). The group often seems to have a little relax at the top of the climb so I gave it some then and caught up. It's not a nice feeling to have to race to catch up though, it makes everyone else seem super strong.

We got a clumsy paceline working into the wind on the back 5 miles and polished it off without too much trouble. Both Robert and Jeff worked far too hard on the paceline. Jeff's game is hard to read but Robert was clearly tired on the first lap. I remembered the same situation on my first race as I was panting for breath and looking around at everyone else looking relaxed. I think Robert lost the race here.

As the second lap came around I was hanging out near the back of the pack. The climb came around and I attacked it. The group was getting tired now and starting to split. Onto the second climb and more splitting off. I crested the summit 4th. I could clearly see one guy out ahead perhaps 100 yards, and then a team of two starting to work to catch him, about 30 yards ahead of me. Seeing one of the two was Andrew H I was even more keen to catch them - Andrew is a strong and wise rider and as a group of 3 we could push on and should catch the leader. I ceased the moment and worked hard to catch the pair. I timed it just right and pulled in behind them for a little rest before taking my turn at the front.

Working together as a 3 for 4 miles was fun. We reeled in the guy in front a little and managed to stay ahead of Jeff who must only have been 50 yards behind but it seemed like a clear lead for us. We didn't work that well as a team which was partly my fault, when I overtake I speed up too much and break the group up. I was so keen to ride the front guy down that I wanted us to work faster. Perhaps I should have tried to go it alone but that's easy to say in hindsight - we were working hard. One of the 3 of us was a little weaker too so he began to slip a little and take extra rest but I was glad he was still working with us.

As we neared the line a kind of gentleman's agreement saw our pack split and race on our own for the line. Andrew took off and timed a good spurt of speed to get an edge on us. I worked hard to follow and was catching quite well. I dropped my companion pretty convincingly on the final climb past the hill but didnt have enough left to get Andrew, and similarly he didn't quite catch the leader.

All in all though, a very fun race and 3rd place puts me at the top of the Alta Alpina leaderboard for the season in the C category - COOL!


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