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Dunnigan Hills Road Race 35+ 4

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

Race: Dunnigan Hills
Date: 8/13/2011
Category/Field Size: Men Cat 4B 35+. 29 racers.
Team Mates: Chris and Felix

Weather/Course Description: Weather was nice. This is the first race I have done where I haven’t started out in some sort of cold weather gear. No significant wind. The course had a fair amount of rollers but nothing big enough to separate out the group. The course was 46 minus 3 miles long (more on that later).

Race Plan:
Felix and I talked about a few plans. We initially thought we would launch several attacks but we decided that it would be best if Felix sat in towards the front while I stayed as protected as possible while looking for an attack or two to join.

Race: Our B group rode pretty fast (we started 5 minutes after the A group but finished only a few minutes behind them). There were several attacks but the peloton didn’t let any of the riders get further than 20 seconds up the road. About 45 minutes into the race I decided to go with a Davis guy that was attempting to bridge the gap on one of the attacks. We hit it hard and closed the gap quickly but the entire peloton followed us. At that point, I decided energy conservation was the best strategy.

Going back to the start of the race and the race information that was being relayed to us… The guy said that this was a 46 mile race. That is a key piece of misinformation that caught a lot of people, including me, off-guard. With about 6 miles to go I started to make my way towards the front. However, the roads were REALLY narrow and rough so it was taking me longer than expected to make it to the front. I pulled even with Felix, who through the natural morphing/rotation of the peloton, found himself further back from the front of the peloton than he had been all race long. No problem, we still have a little over three miles to go.

And then I saw the 200 meter sign fly by us. Editing my quote for the family audience, my reaction was this: “FUDGE!!!! 200 METERS!!! GO! GO! GO! GO!”

I had riders in front and all around me. I didn’t have time to think about gearing or anything else. I just went as fast as I could. I wish I could give more details on the final 200 meters but when I am in a purely reactive mode like that, I don’t tend to remember much. I know I passed a lot of riders. I think some of them were stragglers from the 35+ A group because they were riding pretty slow in the middle of the road. Looking at the Garmin data, I went from 21.4 to 33 miles an hour. I still had gears and power to go faster but I ran out of space as I crossed the finish line. I then had to slam on the breaks instantly as three guys that finished in front of me clustered together, bumping bars, causing two of them to go down. I wasn’t going to stop in time so I veered left into the dirt to avoid them. I am lucky I pulled it out without crashing or taking anyone else down. The sprint-then-stop made for an interesting speed plot: 21 – 33 – 12.

Kudos to Felix for staying in the top 5-10 riders the entire race. With the way that finish went down I feel like we wasted a good opportunity. We were strong going into the race, avoided mechanical issues (there were a LOT of flats), and stayed rubber-side down. To have the race end like that really stinks.

Too bad the race officials didn’t put out 1km and 500m signs as well. Given that they were doing a new finish location for the course this year (that was announced Thursday night), the extra signs would have been valuable for all of the racers. I talked with several people from the A and B group after the race and everyone was caught off-guard by the finish.

Results: I finished 9th. Felix finished 17th.

Lessons:

1. Study the maps better so that I feel good about pre-riding the finish when we aren’t doing a course that involves loops. I had no clue where I was, I had never been to Yolo before, and didn’t feel good about riding off to find the finish line. I didn’t want to get lost and miss the start of the race.

2. Listen to my instincts. From what the guy was saying before the race, it seemed like the race was just about done, but I kept looking at my odometer and kept thinking that I must have misunderstood the finish because we still have several miles to go.

Sponsors Note: I couldn’t be more pleased with the Nike Vision glasses! The Nike Vision MaxAdapt lenses continue to work well in all conditions providing crisp vision that is never too dark or light.

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