This is the big race: you spend almost an entire season preparing for it and when the time comes you are not ready.
This year the beginner class race was on Friday afternoon: I didn’t plan too well for traffic and stuff so I arrived at Laguna Seca few minutes after 3PM, a little too late for a start at 3:55…
I had just the time to get the registration package and shoot for the start line with no warm-up whatsoever.
It was freaking cold: I had read reports of intense heat in Monterey in the past days, so I went for a pretty light outfit, with shorts, S/S Jersey and no arm warmers.
While I’m there listening the idiot on P/A entertaining us while we wait to start a give a quick check to the bike and realize the front skewer is loose: so I give it a couple turns, lock it and then realize my front brake is rubbing heavily… oh great!
If I spin the wheel it only makes a quarter turn and then stops.
So I’m standing on the start line with another 80 guys ready to start for my first priority A race of the season with no warm up, shivering from cold relentless wind and with a rubbing front brake… hard to describe what went on in my head at that point.
As they called for 30 seconds I tried to breath deeply and visualize a positive outcome for this race and then off we go.
Start was fast but not impossible, so I tried to stick with the leading group of about 20 peoples and at the same time not to blow up, since my legs are cold as stone.
The last 100 yards of the racetrack are brutal (is this the corkscrew?) and finally we hit the dirt, down the fireroad: this is the worst moment as my lungs and my legs are on fire.
We start our up and downs in the green hills of Ft Ord and then all of the sudden I hear somebody yelling my name: it’s Jeff and Carmen, taking pictures, cheering and cow belling. They wake me up from my trance, I realize I’m here for the fun, even if everything hurts right now: after that it was all downhill, well at least for a bit.
This year no long conga line on the single track section. I had one guy ahead of me but he didnt slow me much as he was riding about the same speed as me.
Up again on the sandy and windy section and then on the fireroad until the first sandy beach. I go down pretty well with just one dismount, but I was able to ride/surf the whole thing.
After that the steep singletrackclimb on TR82. When I did this for the first time 2 years ago (my first race ever) I walked most of this climb – last year I was able to ride it really slow and this year I was even able to pass a few people: conquering feels good.
Past the feed zone I go up the fireroad and before the singletrack on left is my checkpoint, at about 9mi mark. Last year I was there after 1:02, and this time it’s 0:52. I’m all excited as I’m thinking I’m going to meet my goal of 1:45, down 13 minutes from last year 1:58.
Unfortunately this is not the case. The second half of the race I keep pushing really hard but I feel I’m not making much progress. Maybe the rubbing brake, maybe the heavy head wind… I pass a few more people and get passed again before the last singletrack before the racetrack stretch.
I finish 1:53:22 in 25th place out of 78. Still a pretty good result, but below my goal of 1:45.