Sunday, May 18, 2008

Panoche Valley Road Race a.k.a. My First Road Race

It's been a while since my last blog and things have changed over the past month. Two weeks ago the NCNCA (Northern California Nevada Cycling Association) approved an upgrade from Category 5 to Category 4, so this morning I went to my first road race (not criterium) as a "Cat 4"

For those confused with the last sentence - my first road events were the Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium and the Ronde van Brisbeen Circuit race. There is a difference between a circuit, criterium and road race - please read below

Wikipedia Definitions (sounds good to me)

A criterium, or crit, is a type of bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city centre streets.

Road bicycle racing is a popular bicycle racing sport held on roads (following the geography of the area), using racing bicycles. The term 'road racing' is usually applied to events where competing riders start simultaneously (unless riding a handicap event) with the winner being the first at the end of the course (individual and team time trials are another form of cycle racing on roads).

The morning started out with massive bathroom lines and people spinning on their trainers in the shade. My teammate and I registered and changed into our kits and bathed in sun block for the long ride ahead. The morning temperature was in the high 80's and would reach 95 (Fahrenheit) at the end of the race. We sat on the start line for 3 minutes as the race director explained the road conditions and other tidbits of information. The first 5-7 miles of the race were mellow enough to chat and was a welcoming break from the full throttle starts in cyclocross. My teammate and I moved to the front of the peloton and made some nice efforts on the climbs. The group worked together though a canyon until we reached an area with people handing out water bottles. Someone decided this would be a great place to attack and the pace went from 20 to 30(+) miles per hour. My teammate and I were exchanging a water bottle and noticed the break going, so we had to make an extra effort to pull ourselves back into the game. The main group shot down a winding downhill section reaching speeds up to 43 miles per hour. My teammate hit a nasty pothole causing his front wheel to flat and sending him into a corner on the side of the road. Luckily, his bike stayed upright, but could not finish the race. The group continued rocketing down the hill and into the flats before the turn around point of the race. The road back was another story and the tactics changed dramatically - the winds were insane. The group worked together into the head winds and one rider from Z-Team escaped for about 6 or 7 miles. Our group eventually caught the Z-Team rider (who would go on to win the final sprint) in the rolling hills. Overall, the lead group consisting of 28 riders worked together on the way back to the finish line. The race ended in a mass sprint to line and it took some non-sprinter types to get things rolling 500 meters from the line. I made several pulls during the race and was satisfied with my first road race - 17th place. There were several sections where I pulled the main group - not bad for chicken sticks.

This weekend is the Mt. Hamilton road race and I look forward to the 22 mile climb and steep decent on the backside - maybe this race will suit my body type. Anyway, here are some highlights from the Panoche Valley Road Race.

Coke was served at the end of the race in buckets of ice :)

Bees swarmed the group 3 miles into the race - the group started yelling "bees! bees!" - what can you do?

My teammate and I got attacked while exchanging a water bottle in the feed zone

I got stung (by a wasp) several times between my shoulder blades and some riders started slapping my back to kill the little bastard - I had to pull him from my jersey and he continued to sting my hand

Did not expect my chicken sticks to pull a group in the windy flats and short climbs

Sharing a Round Table Pizza with my teammate (so easy to please)

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 5, 2008


A picture (image) is worth a thousand words

Time to re-build