San Dimas is one of the higher level races that this little Midwestern boy has attended. In some ways I'm slightly star struck. This is mainly a pro race but they've allowed a very few amateur categories to also participate - including Masters 35, 45 & 55+. The 45 & 55+ masters are racing together, but scored separately. Usually that spells "cluster-you-know-what". You hope they separate the numbering convention so that you can tell who you are actually racing with. But it's almost impossible, especially for someone like me who is not familiar with the national-level competition.
But at this race, not only did they use a different numbering convention for each category, but the actual paper that the numbers are printed on is in contrasting colors So, the 45+ have neon orange numbers and the 55+ are bright yellow.
Stage 1 is a challenging 4.2 mile uphill TT. It goes up a twisty section of the San Gabriel Mountains. We were sent off in :30 second intervals; and yours truly drew the very 1st starting position. I'd rather have a couple 2-3 guys in front of me to chase, rather than be chased, but in the end it's a race against time.
Going into the weekend I was not at all sure about my fitness. I really was due for a rest this week, but tried to squeeze out extra week because I really wanted to do this race. So I rode hard last Saturday and then have been taking it pretty easy this week. It's tricky trying to stretch a fitness period, at least for me. I'm either under trained or over trained.
Stage 1 Race Report
My start time was 11:32am. I was up really early due to some jagmo's in the motel room next to me that decided to have a little pow wow at 4:30 am. I laid and listened to it for about 20 minutes until I was fully awake and then called the front desk. They never did quiet down, but stuck my ear buds in and managed to fall asleep for another hour until 7:00am. Then I hit a Starbucks for coffee, oatmeal and the morning news.
I felt good warming up. I have a pretty tried and true pre-race warmup. After putting my trainer away, I rolled up to the starting area. One of my biggest dilemma's today was what gearing to use. The climb undulates between 5-9%. I opted for a 25X11. I had a 28 in the truck but decided that if I was going slow enough to need it, that would mean I was not in the hunt anyhow. This follows my philosophy that there are only 2 places in bike racing - 1st and everything else.
As of now 1:00pm all I can say is that today, I placed in the "everything else" position. In fact, I felt great. And my power/heart rate numbers were better than I expected. But, I was passed by my :30 man and then to add insult to injury, about 500 meters from the finish, I was also passed by my 1:00 man. Looking around, I notice there are lots and lots of stars, bars, and rainbows on jersey sleeves. Compared to a real climber, I pretty much stunk up the place.
On the bright side, tomorrow is a new sunny day - and new adventure. I am no longer racing for the General Classification. But there are stage wins, climbers jersey, and sprinters jersey still up for grabs.
I've been racing a lot of years. I've enjoyed more than my fair share of success. I've raced with guys who get so mad at their results that they swear, throw their bikes, cuss out the officials, and make tons of excuses. For me, bike racing is still fun. I win some and I am humbled by some. In some ways, cycling is like golf. You can completely shank 4 strokes in a row, and then just a soon as you start to get discouraged, you hit the perfect shot, and suddenly the clouds disappear, and the cherubs start plucking their harps.