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, August 10, 2006

Blue Lakes Road Race - 2nd Place (by a wheel!)

Blue Lakes is an awesome spot for a road race. It's a road off to the left about 3 miles past the turning to go to Luther as you head up Carson Pass. The Blue Lakes road has been freshly paved and climbs from 7,000ft way up there (!) along a nice twisty road.

Jeff and me have started looking fast on time trials (he's faster than me) but we don't always do that well in road races. So this time we planned to work together a bit, from early on in the race. It normally takes me a while to warm up and settle down so going early in a 22 mile race was a bit of a stretch.

As soon as we started a couple of guys made a little break. This wasn't to plan at all. I bridged the gap bringing the rest of the pack with me but used more energy in doing so than I should. After a mile or so I could see the same poor guy was being left out there at the front to do all the work so I pulled ahead to take a turn and give him a rest. Again, not great given our plan of making an early break.

At about 2 miles, on something of a climb, Jeff said, "follow me" and he broke away. Some of the guys had figured we might try this and came with us. The break needed a big burst of energy. After following Jeff for a while I pulled in front to take my turn. I worked a bit too hard here and got well away from Jeff and then didnt know what to do. I relaxed a bit to see if they would catch me. Pretty soon Jeff was with me but so were a couple more guys and the pack close behind. Not a very clean break at all.

After a couple of miles I looked back and the 2 that tried to go with us had dropped back and the pack were falling behind. The road is nice and twisty so we pretty soon gained a big psychological advantage of being out of sight. So we ploughed on.

Jeff is a big guy and so is easy to draft behind, so after our early break I was able to sit back and get my breathing under control and let my heart-rate drop a bit. It's amazing that drafting you can continue to go fast but get a decent rest.

After Jeff had been pulling for far too long I got past him to take my turn. I think Jeff just likes to ride fast and isnt much in to drafting. It was quite tough to get past him at all, he seemed to speed up, and then when I did he often didn't draft that much. He would still get the mental pull of working with someone else who was pushing on but didn't use the drafting to rest much. I felt quite guilty about drafting on his wheel given that he didnt let me tow him so much.

After a while of riding hard up some hills I began to wished that my pre-race banana had come earlier. I figured I might learn what Scott's expression, "blowing chunks" really meant since I wasn't planning to stop if I had to be sick (don't worry Mum I wasn't sick in the end).

On one of the climbs we began to catch some of the D group riders who had started 5 minutes ahead of us and before long we had overtaken all of them.

The last climb was a biggy and when we finally got there and hit some flat, we quickly came upon race cones indicating it was time to turn around. As we did I expected to see nobody behind us for ages and was quite surprised to be confronted with a motley crew not so far back at all. The question we had was, 'are they C's?'. It was hard to tell, I thought a couple were C group riders but it later turned out that they weren't, they were really B's and later A's that were catching us (having started 5 and 10 minutes behind us - wow, how humbling).

Seeing this lot really spurred us on and we really kicked it on the last big climb before the mostly downhill descent to avoid getting caught up.

About 5 miles from the end I looked around and there were riders just behind (Bs). They were really moving as they came past us but we were still not beaten and managed to overtake them again (just for fun). Coming up to about 2 miles out, Jeff and me were now racing each other, spurred on by the Bs were were racing alongside.

I seemed to have the edge on the last climb about a mile out. Then Jeff put on some speed and one of the Bs came past him on the left. Thinking it was me he raced on. I was thinking it was all over but was hanging on. It occured to me that Jeff had peaked too soon and I was catching him. Finish line in sight I went for it, pulling up on his right. He looked over and saw me and really pushed it. So did I! We raced absolutely flat out with everything screaming, resisting muscle weakness from overdoing it and fighting with everything left to be first over the line. We went over the line, Jeff in front by a wheel. I hadnt anything left to even stay sitting on the bike and stopped to breath for a minute. An awesome and fast ride but humbling too by the couple of Bs who caught us up (two guys who have ridden together for 10 years and worked like clockwork as a team). The rest of the Cs came in some minutes later (as did the rest of the Bs). Me and Jeff should probably be riding Bs now, and the other guys should have been in the As. But at the end of the season things stretch out like this I'm told.

So, 17 points but still no win - but I'm still ahead on the leaderboard with 3 races to go! Great fun!


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