So my race at Sea Otter confirmed that I’m on track for a very successful season, however there are few things I need to address. First of all, my climbing speed has drastically taken its toll the past year since starting at Specialized. The lack of hills on my daily rides have softened my legs, despite the fast pacelines. I’ll be looking to do more regular hill climbs for the rest of the season in an effort to find my inner mountain goat again. They hardware fix is underway, as I’ve ordered a new spider for my SRAM crankset, which currently has a 104BCD, restricting me to a 32t ring up front. I love to spin rather than mash, so I’m finding it hard to adapt to the latter. Going to a 30t will definitely help out on the low-end, sacrificing a wee bit on the top end. Next up is the Shasta Lemurian in two weeks. I want to do really well at this race so everything’s got to be dialed in.
Managed a respectable 6th place at the 2014 Sea Otter Classic, racing the Cat. 1 30-34 group. It was a fast bunch. I missed the lead group early in the race, a regrettable moment where I saw them just out of reach with each hill crest or bend throughout the entire 24 mile race. If I had made the decisive choice of bridging up to my team mates I think I would have had a good shot of getting further up the rankings. Mentally I was defeated and didn’t find it in myself to really push too hard, only to make sure I didn’t get passed at the end. My legs felt great, and my bike performed flawlessly, however I think a lighter hardtail would have been my whip of choice. Just happy to get it done and off my racing calendar.
I got some new sunglasses to compliment my on/off the bike fashion. Seriously, it’s hard finding a middle ground pair that aren’t so typical/hipster or full on race geek. The new Oakley Chainlink glasses are the ones I’ve been searching for. They have a nice classic squared shape, rubberized ear socks and nose pads, lightweight frame, paired with their Fire Iridium lenses. I’ve ridden with them a few times now, and so far I love them. They might not be the most ideal glasses for the foggy NorCal trails, but if I only had one pair to rule them all these would be them.
This Sunday I race the Sea Otter Classic for the 3rd year in a row. My form has been hit and miss the past two times, crashing hard in the first, and nearly bonking last year. This time I’m better prepared both mentally and physically. The last piece of the puzzle is achieving a good start.
I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not warming up properly, depriving myself of oxygen as I heave for position once the gun goes off. I usually warm up easy for 20 minutes but fail to put in any hard efforts. My goal this year is to really develop a strict pre-ride routine, one that covers an easy spin, followed by a steady state effort and ending with a few hard sprints. Because this years course is shorter than last the start will be more important than ever.
The Wednesday lunch ride crew was a mixed bag, causing a major split halfway into our ride. I saw the separation as I was at the back of the lagging group. I pulled hard, trying to bridge to the lead pack, but they were going a bit too fast. I never stopped chasing as I was joined by another. We worked together but couldn’t bridge the gap. We sat up and waited for the chase group to catch up. I began to feel better after warming up a bit, and started pulling the group really hard, catching stragglers from the lead, one by one.
Someone decided to turn up the heat on our Monday lunch ride. I just wanted to mellow spin, but I found myself battling it out with a solid crew. Halfway in I dialed it back down. I guess the gorgeous weather had something to do with it.
Another podium finish for me this weekend at the Napa Valley Dirt Classic. I snagged the last spot finishing 3rd out of a very stacked field. I felt pretty good throughout the race, realizing afterwards that I could have gone in the red for a bit longer. I played it safe, maybe too safe. Second place was just 30 seconds ahead, and there were definitely moments I could have pushed myself more. Live and learn.
The course was a bit muddy, and the fast rolling first half made it harder to find my rhythm. Being a relatively short course with few climbs made it hard for me to make up time in my normal fashion. A tough and challenging course for me indeed.
Happy to make it onto the podium, as it also provided a reality check on my form going into Sea Otter, Lemurian and the Boggs 8 Hour races.