Monday, April 23, 2007

Conquer the Canyons - Day Deux

Sorry for the delayed race reportage... Three excuses: (1) single Dad this week; (2) committed to fix a software problem asap; and (3) kind of disappointed in my performance yesterday.

I'm not going to dwell on it, but clearly my expectations got ahead of my legs. It's time to take a chapter from the Crispy Walker training book, turn the brain off and just go out and train harder.

On the way down there yesterday, Cookie and I speculated that SuccessfulLiving would try to stack the podium with their guys. That's exactly what they did. They are a level above the rest of the SoCal guys, and it showed.

Not that some guys didn't try... Kevin Klein was the most animated--both with his legs and his mouth--and he had the power to give it a go. He set a super hard tempo up the climb on the first lap and single-handedly pulled away a group of 10-15 including both MarkZen and me. Unfortunately some key players got caught out, and our group never got cohesive enough. Half the field was soon back together.

The next few laps saw more hard-tempo climbing and attack-chase-coast, repeat, and soon enough Klein, Walker, Rigo Meza, and a SuccessfulLiving guy were OTF. Laps 5 and 6 were pretty negative as Daniel and company forcefully marked any attempts by others to get away, and the group(s) up the road pulled out a couple minutes. Then with two laps to go, Super Junior Grant Van Horn took off solo on the climb, basically saying "OK, enough of this... I'm going up to those guys! Hang on if you can." and remarkably that's exactly what he did ...solo, in the wind, with junior gears! [That kid is the best Junior talent I've seen in years. Good thing he's off to Europe in a week or so.] On the last lap, Uthman and Thurlow and a couple others took off and got a head start up the climb. Once we hit the hill, Daniel finally lit his after-burners and towed another small group away, including MarkZen.

I got dropped. Even though the race was 2 hrs 30 minutes long, it's those three minutes on that final climb that I keep replaying in my mind. Could I have gone harder and kept contact? Or was that really my limit? Such a fine line between keeping the pedals turning and completely detonating.

So the race was up the road for the final few miles. A SuccessfulLiving guy won solo, followed by three of four more small groups. Grant got 3rd. Gutsy. MarkZen got 15th, I was 21st, Cookie finished 27th. For gc, MarkZen 14th, me 19th, Cookie 25th. Half the field didn't even finish, so at least we persevered.

Other races...

A big congratulations to David Larsen for his first mass-start win (road race) and for holding 2nd on gc. The dude is a time-trial monster, and is now turning that power loose on the peloton. And excellent support from strong-man Geoff Gray!

I told you a couple days ago that Dave Worthingon would rise back up in the road race and take the gc in the 45+, and that's precisely what he did. I understand local motor Kim Bleth played a key role as he went off the front and forced Amgen to chase, while Dave just licked his chops and waited until the final climb to fly like an eagle.

Jason was the top finisher (6th gc) in the ultra-competitive 3's race. Lot's of other strong SB performances there... Gary, Steve B., Blinger, Steve Smith, and Chicken Ranch Matt.

Local women represented well in both the 1/2/3 race with a full squad of Kaylra/Griffen ladies, and Kimberly Turner raced in the 4's. She rode a nice tt and circuit race, but had some challenges in the road race. Hey, if it were easy, we wouldn't do it!

And of course, Steve Weixel rode strong in the final stage grab his third silver medal (tt, rr, gc) in his first racing experience. Good job!

All the results are here.

You'll note that the local presence at the race was impressive. Of the 13 different categories, I think 12 of them had Santa Barbara and/or Goleta racers. I've seen 20 years of ebbs and flows of SB bike racing, and this weekend convinces me things are looking bright right now. Great participation.

Finally, a huge "Thank You" to teammate Druber, and Blinger's son Charlie, for helping out all of us racers yesterday. It's so nice to have a supportive and calming influence around instead of scrambling with clothing and bikes, and worrying about feeds.

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