Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Alto Velo Race Report

Patterson Pass, Pro/1/24 laps, 90(+) milesAugust 11, 2007Field: 60+Teammates: Ted Huang (3rd), me (13th), Tore Natua, Greg Davis, Matt MorenzoniNormally the best finisher on the team writes the report but Tedwanted someone else to share the load since he gets all the results inroad races and thus always has to write the reports :-) So for todayI'm stepping in for Ted...A good field lined up at the start for the P/1/2 race: we had thepleasure of a strong CalGiant team, two BMC riders (Mike Sayers andScott Nydham), Jared Barrilleaux (MetroMint), Brian Buchholz (BPG) andthe usual collection of guys who like hilly road races.Just before the start, Matt asks me if I have a spare brake pad. Aspare what? Turns out Greg's rear brake pad broke - it was made ofcork and it cracked in half. We searched around in vain for an extrabrake pad and I looked at Greg with some concern. The course atPatterson doesn't require a lot of intensive braking but riding thedescent in a big pack with no rear brake seemed like an unwise thingto do. So that helped decide team tactics: Greg would get into anearly break and see how it went on the descent. Greg agreed to itand that was our initial plan along with the usual cover other movesand see how things play out later in the race.As expected with the wind howling down the pass and 4 laps ahead of uswe set out at a slow pace. Greg wasted no time in going up the roadin the company of Patrick Briggs (Cal Giant). Part way up the climbTore rolled up next to me and said "he took his job seriously!". Wecould see Greg and Patrick already probably a minute ahead of thefield.Greg and Patrick stayed off for the rest of the lap but were pulledback in part way up the climb the second time. As we were closing inon Greg and Patrick we were entertained by loud complaints from aCalGiant rider who felt compelled to tell everyone (repeatedly) howGreg was punching it on the hills and so Patrick wasn't working withhim any more, etc. You see one of the nice things about riding in theP/1/2 category is that well, everyone considers themselves a "pro" andis thus quite confident in their abilities and opinions. And they'refrequently more than happy to share them with you even if you aren'tinterested. For what it's worth Greg didn't feel like he punched itat all on the hills so perhaps the commentator was mistaken.After we caught Greg and Patrick, Mike Sayers and Jared counterattacked on the main climb. That was a move that had some legs andunfortunately no AV in it. It's a long race though so there was hopethey would fade.On the second climb on lap 2, Ted decided to stretch his legs and tookoff. This elicited more commentary about how he's never going to makeit alone, etc. Anyway, Ted didn't get any company and was duly reeledin. Going over the 580 overpass some counter moves went including onewith me, James Mattis, Kevin Klein and someone from BPG. I figuredthis move might have the right composition to get away but sadly wedidn't get to work quickly enough and it fell apart.We rode pretty slowly the rest of the lap and the gap to Sayers andJared ballooned to 3 minutes. This produced a bit of concern and some folks started putting in some efforts to up the pace. Once againthough the pace slackened and we were going up the main climb thethird time at an absolutely anemic pace. Again we were treated tocommentary from members of CalGiant about how we ought to chase downthat break, etc. I wound up on the front leading the pack up theclimb but going so slowly that it was pathetic (seriously, I wasputting out < 250w going uphill which is about as slow as you can gowithout falling over). I got a bit tired of it and upped the pace onthe higher reaches of the climb but it wasn't much and although wewere at least now pedaling for real, it was hardly a spirited chase.This effort too received yet more commentary about how I had"attacked" into a head wind from the front of the group. Sheesh, somedays you just can't do anything right.On the backside tailwind section we rocketed along - hitting 52 mphaccording to my bike computer. This section alone makes the raceworth doing (IMHO).As we hit Midway road (about 1-2 miles before the start/finish), thepace got really hard and echelons formed. I made a feeble attempt atstaying to the right of the centerline but it was impossible. Ilooked over at the moto official guy and said "hey I'm trying" and hekindly replied "don't worry about it". Sadly I still got gapped offalong with about 5-7 other guys at this point. Ted made the splitwith the main group. The rest of us groveled and managed to catchback on by the feed zone.At this point the break was only maybe a minute or so up the road.James Mattis and a few others were leading the chase. I worked my wayup through the group and got up to Ted. I started to recover a bitand felt like I could hang. Here though I made a critical judgementerror. Ted asked me if I could help pull. I could have but knew thatif I did I'd never make it through when the counter-attacks came. Ireally wanted to make it in the lead group so I sat in. Instead Ishould have gone right to the front and pulled back the break.Ted took the initiative that I lacked and went to the front and set asteady hard tempo, reducing the gap to the break even further. Atthis point I was somewhere around 3rd or 4th wheel in the very singlefile and very tired group of maybe 20 guys. With maybe 25 meters to the top of the climb I thought to myself, gee,this would be a good time to attack. No sooner had the thought formedin my head when BOOM! Scott Nydham hit the gas. It was like a bombexploded - Adam Switters was yelling at his teammate Kevin Klein "getout of the way I gotta get on that", guys were scrambling andgroveling to get on wheels (remember the wind up there was stillabsolutely ferocious) and it was in general total chaos. Scott gappedeveryone followed by Ted and Andres Gil. In total it was a matter ofmaybe 5 extra hard pedal strokes to get on Ted but I didn't quite makeit. In the space of the next 30 seconds, Scott was just gone, Ted andAndres opened a gap of 300 meters, chased by one or two others andthen the rest of us grouped up. Amazingly I got yelled at again by amember of the Rock Racing team to pull and I was like "dude are youstupid? Ted is up the road, why would I pull?". Apparently somepeople forget that you're not supposed to chase down your teammates. Ted managed to catch Mike Sayers at the base of the second climb.Jared was still up ahead and Nydham even further ahead of him. Tedpulled up next to Sayers and said "That Jares is the real deal, eh?".Sayers didn't respond so Ted decided that if he was going to ride insilence he'd do it alone and dropped Sayers (and Andres). Ted thensolo'ed in for a very well earned third place from there.Behind, all I had to do was sit on and get a free ride. I was nowactually feeling almost perky and decided that even if I was racingfor some irrelevant minor placing I would put in a good showing. Weturned on to Midway and hit the crosswinds. We slowed and guysstarted to chit-chat. This made it the perfect time to attack. Itook off which incited Chris D'Alusio, Kevin Klein and another riderto chase. They caught me a bit before the top and I hung but thencouldn't quite match one of Chris' accelerations and got gapped. Idid manage to hold off the rest of the group which netted me 13th(woohoo).Hats off to Ted for yet another good finish. Mucho thanks to Tore,Greg and Matt who all helped out in the feedzone after they droppedout.thanks for reading,--dominic