Monday, April 7, 2008

Doing the Double at Martinez

Well, I don't suck--but I kind of do.

Last year's edition of the Martinez Crit was contested in a driving rain, and I ended my Elite 4 race on the courthouse steps after a guy slid out right in front of me on turn one. I bunny-hopped his head, the curb, and the lower steps of the county building. Fun.

This year's racing was graced with beautiful weather--but sense memory can still cause a pucker, you know?

I've been dorking around with various warm-ups this year--easy spinning with high cadence vs. progressions to threshold, etc. Yesterday I followed a Judd plan: easy, stretch, easy to medium, easy to hard, easy to hard, sprint-recover, sprint-recover, easy. 45 minutes on a trainer sucks, but it was worth it since I took legs of iron to the line. I felt freaking awesome. I also warmed up near Chris Phipps, last year's ZTeam sensation who won everything he entered and went from a 5 to a 1 in about a year. Now he rides for Morgan Stanley. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. I hate him.

Morgan Stanley had a huge cadre of riders, as did VOS and Wells Fargo. AMD (Larry Nolan) was not in evidence, but it was nevertheless a very quality field that strung out the race from the opening whistle. The course is pretty technical--an "L" shape with tight turns and a very bumpy start/finish straightaway. I started in 50ish and slowly passed 3-4 people a lap for about 6 laps, but then disaster struck. On the last turn into the homestretch on lap 7(?) I came around the corner in about 20th place and found the road covered with bodies (Well, okay--maybe four or five). I cut hard inside and missed a hay-baled parking meter by inches. Of course, I dropped from top 30 to 60th or so in about 10 seconds. Then, more hell erupted. Guys in front of me kept getting gapped as the pack accelerated and went single file after the crash. I closed down 4-5 good-size gaps in the next 2-3 laps, sprinting like mad to get across each time. Of course, the entire second half of the field sat on my wheel as I towed them across all the little holes. When another guy stacked it in the same turn 3 laps later, I sat up--cracked, demoralized, and a bit freaked. I spent two laps trying to get out of my head, but by then I was half a lap down with about 10 other guys sitting on, and we got pulled two laps later. Sh*t. I later heard that there was a THIRD crash in the same corner on the bell lap...and they say the Master's 1/2/3 is the safest category to race.

Photo by Casadelane Photography

The Elite 3 was anti-climactic. Stephen Jenke, Zach Wick, and Chris Stasny all suited up; Stephen stayed in the top 20 the entire race while Zach and I pack surfed too far back to influence the race at all. I lacked the power to move up on the outside or the balls to wiggle through up the middle. I simply spent 50 minutes just below threshold, berating my cowardice, ineptitude, and sloth. Anybody who tells you cycling isn't just as mentally and emotionally demanding as any other sport is either stupid or lying.

Next weekend I race a flat collegiate criterium in Santa Barbara. I intend to win it or lead out our other sprinter for the win. If one of us doesn't take it, I'll be appalled. Then a rest week follows in preparation for the conference championship TTT in Reno. After that, my Aggie career comes to a formal conclusion and I'll be a full-time DBC Geezer again.

Racing sucks. Or rocks. Depends on the day.


No comments: