EVENT:

  • RKO #1: “The Bump” Circuit race

CATEGORY

  • W 3/4

DATE

  • Sunday, February 9, 2015

AUTHOR

  • Julie Cushen

COURSE DESCRIPTION

A 7 mile circuit with a ~3 mi rollout to “the bump”, followed by three seven mile laps. Rollers with a short, steep, uphill finish. Livermore, CA. 

PREVIOUS RESULTS

2014: 1st (W3/4)

WEATHER

Pouring rain through the first lap. Windy the second lap. Beautiful the third. Crosswinds on the descent following the bump on every lap.

TEAMMATES

None

GOALS

* Team – None discussed, no other teammates in field

* Personal – Absolute #1, stay safe in the less than desirable conditions! Stretch race legs, get a good workout in.

PLAN

Get a feel for the field, perhaps try to attack, get a break going, and see what happens. If I didn’t get away, make sure near the front on the last turn before the bump, centerline was in effect through finish. I know this finish is ideal for my sprinting strengths so I knew I had potential to do well in a pack finish if I couldn’t get away in a break.

RACE SUMMARY

I’ll admit I didn't warm up for this race. Instead I sat in my car in the downpour contemplating whether or not I was going to race up until 10 minutes before the start. I've had a total of 4 crashes in the past two years, one where I got hit by a car, one where I slid out on a wet descent, and two in the past year where I crashed on descents due to unexpected circumstances that I did not anticipate or react well to. So I know I’m uncomfortable doing any sort of pushing on descents, especially in wet conditions and especially in a race situation where I have to descend faster and with other people closer to me than I’m comfortable with. I finally decided to race but told myself I would pull out of the race if I started to feel unsafe. I know I should have warmed up but I was being a huge wimp about the rain and wasn't sure if I was going to race anyway.

We rolled out and the rain started to let up a little. Typical of a W3/4 race the pace was snail slow. Nobody wanted to pull and we were probably going ~12mph. We crawled along for 3 miles until we hit “the bump” for the first time, the short, steep roller that is also the finish after 3 laps around the 7-mile circuit. I was already tired of the lollygagging and pushed the effort up the bump. My friend Emily (Jackroo) was beside me at the top and told me we had gapped the field and asked if we wanted to try to increase the gap. Sure, we can try, was my response. In retrospect (and surely in a p/1/2 or more competitive field) I should have committed more to this if I was going to expend the effort to attack. We kind of made a half-effort at increasing the gap and then two more riders joined us (Metromint and Chico Masters Cycling). Once they joined us and I looked back and saw we still had a decent gap I realized we had a chance at staying away with 4 of us and needed to fully commit to the effort. Our break was appearing disorganized so I took charge. I immediately told them to start taking 30s pulls and that they needed to drop to the back asap after their pull and stay tight. It took a few rotations, especially because we were on the descent part of the course but then it became very smooth and we started working together really well. I kept telling them to keep the pace high because I wasn't sure if the peloton might catch us. We needed Metromint, as she had about 7 teammates in the peloton (I would later find out they did in fact work to slow the pace of the peloton so we could stay away). I told her to take shorter pulls if she needed to to stay on, as she seemed to be struggling. And basically we did this the entire race. We did a really good job staying tight and working together. The moto kept giving us updates on our gap…1 min, two min, and then “the closest person I can see behind you is some guy dropped from the cat 5 field. The weather got significantly better, the rain let up and aside from some crosswinds on lap 2 it cleared up and we had a nice finish. Chico took off for the sprint early and I was the only one that followed her. I didn't want her to gap me in her early sprint so I stayed on her wheel through the final turn before the bump. She kind of exploded 1/3 of the way up the bump. I gave it 100%, flew by her and took the win. I was kind of in too hard of a gear on the steep part and mashed for a bit but it was ultimately ok. 

TAKEAWAYS

* It’s possible to stay safe racing in the rain! It may just be that becoming comfortable and confident riding in the rain just takes doing it. I didn't feel unsafe on the descents or racing in the rain in general as I had feared.

*Our breakaway executed some great race tactics (especially for a W3/4 field with inexperience) 

*I think I’m sprinting pretty well right now and it showed on the finish, although I should  have probably “practiced” figuring out what gear I needed to be in on the earlier laps so I could have ended up in a better gear for the finish.