Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Root 66 Race #1: Hopbrook Dam

There are a bunch of rules most good racers follow to prepare for a race.  Since I am such a "class act", the only two I can think of right now are: don't change components or mess w/ your bike the day before a race, and have an excuse ready to go if the race doesn't go well.  The excuse is not just to give to others, but to justify it to myself if I need to!  And I needed a good one after my less than stellar performance at King of Burlingame.

I did of course mess w/ the bike the night before the race, so really I ended up w/ the last rule, the excuse.  My sorry tale was that I had started to feel sick on Thursday and it had progressively gotten worse.  By Saturday night, I was feeling like shit!  Since it was the first race of the Root 66 series, and I had pre registered already, there was no way I was going to miss it.  And as my co-pilot to the race stated: the race should help sweat that right out.  But since I am writing about excuses, it's pretty clear where this is going!

I need to point out here that we got to the race on time.  This should be the only time this year I write that!

Race was really well attended and though the forecast had been less than stellar, it was dry and not too cold. We lined up at the start and it looked to be close to 30 deep in my age group.  Very well attended indeed.  I guess there were not a lot of road races, and since the NY series had not started yet, there were lots of NYC SIDs racers, including my brother!

Here is a good video of the course: click!

I do like the Hopbrook course.  It’s not too technical; which is always a good way to start the season when skills are still a little rusty; but challenging enough to keep you engaged and paying attention.  The main feature was a climb that was punchy at the start, went on for a little while, and concluded w/ a little kicker to really make you feel it.  By itself it was not that bad, but the course also has a couple of other little climbs that put together started to add up!  Do four laps, and it started to hurt!  There was also a fast and  furious 'don’t touch the brakes fly down the fire road' descend that had some loose rocks which would take your tire out you if you hit them. This year another descend had been covered w/ large loose gravel and required some careful navigation.

The start had always been a mess, since the single track arrives very quickly, and it was no different this year.   Since I was feeling slightly under the weather, and knew I was going to need a slower warm up, I did not try to fight for position.  I hit the single track pretty close to last place w/ my brother right behind me and since everyone in front tried to pile into a single file, we practically came to stand still waiting for the line to sort itself out.

I knew from the warm up that I was going to have a KOB repeat since my legs felt sore, and indeed the first little hills on the race course proved to be more painful than they should have been.   On the big climb, though it hurt, I did manage to pass a couple of guys, but knew my pace was pretty damn slow.

Towards the end of the first lap, Bo and Sean caught up on their single speed and I hung w/ them for a bit.  I tried to give them a lead out on the asphalt and through the start/finish area, but let them pass once we got back into the single track; then struggled to hang on.  W/ hindsight, I would have done better to just try to stick to their wheel as long as I could right from the moment they caught me.   The second and third lap went by in a blur and was spend mostly riding by myself.  A few single speeders caught and passed me but I did not see anyone from my class.  No push from the back or no carrot in front!  Not that that would have made a difference in my speed anyways.   By the time I hit the fourth lap, I had no idea how many laps I had completed and it took a while before another singlespeeder passed and confirmed this was indeed, and thankfully, the last lap.   I just rode the lap out since again there no push/pull for position.   

Throughout the race, I never felt great (as in being able to dig in deep) and my legs again felt weak on the climbs.   My legs were once again my limiting factor.  I never felt my flue symptoms throughout the race but knew they were there.  This was my second race (kob doesn't really count) on a HT and though it's not been an issue jra-ing, my aging back was screaming bloody murder by 3rd lap, and was missing that squish in the back.  Hopefully just growing pains though...

My placement was of course pretty terrible at 21 out of 30, w/ a time of 1 hour 59 mins. Soon after the race my cold came back on w/ a vengeance, and was fighting it for days to come.   Special "thanks" to Adam from Coppola photography for taking the posted pictures here and other fantastic pictures of all the racers!  You can see the rest of them here: https://www.facebook.com/coppolaphotography.  Also it was great to pick up Stacey and have a companion in the car.  Makes those 2 hrs up and back to the race so much more pleasant (hopefully the feeling was mutual!)

Onto Farmington...

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