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Sea Otter Circuit Race Elite 5

Body Concepts Bicycle Race Team – Race Report: by Chris Grove

Race: Sea Otter Circuit Race
Date: 4/16/2011
Category/Field Size: Elite 5, 30-40 racers
Team Mates: Chris Grove (Army of One)

Weather/Course Description: Cool morning with an 8:00am start time. Riding the Laguna Seca race track. Pot holes everywhere!!! Not really. The track is in excellent condition.

Race Plan: Stay towards the front and look to get myself in a good position to sprint at the finish.

Race:
From just racing last night I was feeling lethargic this morning. To counter that, I wanted to line up at the very front and do the initial lead up to the top of the corkscrew. I figured that if I take the early lead I can set the pace most of the way up, and therefore do it at a pace I could handle, and when they start passing me I won’t move too far back into the group. (I call it the Lemming Strategy.) That strategy worked well as I led the pack half way up at a comfortable pace. As I started to get passed I just stayed in my seat and let them go knowing that I would catch them in the corkscrew.

The second lap is when trouble started… I wanted to start keeping up with the leaders on the climb so I got out of the saddle to start pedaling. As I did, my left foot came out of the pedal. As I tried to get my shoe clipped back in I realized that I wasn’t getting a solid clip. Before the race, I had walked from the parking lot to the start of the race with my dad and two of my boys, which I think clogged up my cleat.

At this point I have some safety concerns. I don’t feel like it would be good for me to ride up the hills with the pack or be going for a sprint finish. I decided to alter my strategy a little so that on the climbs, I am way off to the right or left of the pack. If I am still with the group going into the finish I wouldn’t sprint for it because I don’t want to take out half the peloton.

Without being able to stand to match the pace of the group up the climb, I was forced into a catch-up mode while riding the rest of the course. On one climb I fell far enough back that the motorcycle and pace car that was following the peloton passed me. That didn’t last for long as I put my cornering skills (from BCRT skills clinic) to use on the next descent down the corkscrew. I was back towards the front of the group in no time.

As I was approaching the hill again I realized that my left shoe finally had a solid clip. I am back in the race! I sprung out of my saddle and kept up with the pack on this climb. Next time around, trouble sprung up again as I dropped my chain! Need to get that chain catcher before my next race… I was able to recover without stopping but I was in catch-up mode again.

I am starting to get tired from burning matches on the catch-up efforts. I am back with the group with one lap to go. The pace on the last lap surged up the hill. I tried to match it but I was totally spent and couldn’t keep up with the pace. As I made the descent down the corkscrew I realized that there were a bunch of stragglers behind and in front of me. The main pack was too far off to catch so this became a race between me and whoever was left.

Maximizing momentum down the corkscrew I came into the sharp left turn after the corkscrew a little too hot and found myself on the warning track. Thunk-Thunk-Thunk-Thunk-Thunk. I pulled out of it easily enough and was grinning because it was a very fun experience to be pushing it that close to the edge in my speed. (I think my wife’s need for speed may be rubbing off on me.) In hindsight I think I also didn’t take the best angle through that turn like I did most of the rest of the race. I think I was getting anxious for the finish and wasn’t paying as close attention to the details of making a good turn.

I used my momentum to pass a few people and got behind another guy to get a draft break as we headed towards the finish. The stragglers were getting restless and started powering towards the line so I did the same. I passed several people but one guy came by me just before the finish. I heard him coming but was already maxed out and couldn’t do anything about it.

Sea Otter - Body Concepts Bicycle Race Team

Warming up before the race

Results: Initially I was listed as finishing 12th. On Sunday night it changed to 16th. We will see what number they finally come up with when they post it to the USA Cycling website.

Lessons:

  1. When you have to park a long way from the start and walk with the family, wear tennis shoes to the start of the race. Walking on asphalt, sand, gravel, and dirt from the parking lot to the start of the race isn’t good for your cleats.
  2. Get a chain catcher.
  3. Playing catch-up the entire race isn’t a good way to get a top 10 finish.


Sponsors Note:
The pictures my dad took of me on the race track wearing the Nike glasses looks cool.

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