I recently raced in my first ever real road race, Copperopolis Road Race. I’ve raced crits before, but never a true road race. I had been told by friends that if i got a good result there, with my small amount of crit experience I could upgrade to a Cat. 4, and escape the “crash 5’s”. This in mind, and after a tough week, I came for blood.
The race is a 21 mile lap, with a brutal 15 minute climb a few miles in, then rollers for a while, before a descent into the finish. Oh, and its on some of the worst roads I have ever ridden. E5 raced 3 laps.
This was my first actual road race, I have only ever raced crits. That being said, I went into it with hopes to be successful and petition for an upgrade. 63 miles is a lot though, and I was nervous to see how I would do, especially after last weekends flop (2 flats and no legs). My plan was to stay in the front and see what happened.
The start was pretty mellow, and then a quick but not unbearable jump up the climb. At the top, we had cut down to a group of about 12. This group then pack rode across the flats/rollers on the top, and caught and passed some of the Jr 17-18s who started 5 min ahead. After the first lap ended, the P12 field roared past us; I was very impressed by their pace and group.
Then on the 2nd lap, we hit the climb a little faster. I stayed in the front again, and this time we reached the top with a pack of 7. We took off pace-lining on the flats again. On the long straight road before the hard left hander (I don’t know the name), I accidentally made a solo breakaway. At the start of the road, I took a turn on the front of the pace line and picked up the pace. When I looked back halfway down the road I had a sizable gap. At this point I had a bit of an “oh $#!&” moment when I realized that I didn’t mean to do that, and highly doubted I could hold a solo breakaway for half of the race. So I eased up just a bit and let the group catch me a few miles later, and fell back in. They told me that they wanted to “let the kid hang in the wind” I thought that was just fine, I didn’t feel any worse for the wear and got to see that they might not have much left after two climbs. We hung together as a pack for the rest of the lap.
On the third lap, it all came together for me. We hit the climb again, faster than ever. The pack started to explode. On the climb we lost 3, reaching the top with 4 riders, two saying they were hurting. We all agreed we had to turn it on and not let ourselves be caught. So we started a strong pace line again. Soon enough, we were down to 3. Then, before the halfway point on the lap, we lost another. It was just me and a Velo Promo racer named Bingo. We agreed to work together to keep them off and get to the finish, and we worked very well together. I knew he was hurting, but my legs were starting to go as well. When we hit the descent, I took a risk and took the lead. I knew he would draft me the whole time, but my Jr gearing won’t let me pedal on the descent, and I didn’t want to lose him if he started pedaling. I led the entire way down, sometimes getting a wee gap on him through the corners, sometimes with him right on me. When we reached the bottom and hit the little ascent into the finish, I kept the heat on and let him ride my wheel. I felt confident about my legs. At the 200m mark I got up and went for it. He tried to slingshot around me, but I gave it all I had. We were neck and neck coming up to the line, so I poured everything I had into the pedals and threw my bike out. And I took the win. It was insanely close, but I knew I had it. I put my arms up after, but went back to make sure. A victory. My first RR and a victory. I was beyond stoked.
After sending in my upgrade request, I am now an Elite 4 road racer. I can’t wait to hit more road races this year.
Sea Otter is this week; and even though I am enjoying road right now, I’ll be racing Cat. 1 XC on Friday and Cat. 2 Downhill on Saturday. I couldn’t stomach the idea of more than 2 races over the weekend. Hoot ‘n’ holler if you see me racing!
I look forward to seeing everyone down there, feel free to stop by the Grammo booth by the entrance bridge and say hi, as well as drool over the new 2013 products.
I’ll keep you posted.