LA Circuit Race (Cat 5)
The LA Circuit race is approximately 4 miles with two tight turns, and the cat 5 racers would be doing 4 laps of the circuit. These turns would make for an extremely boring race from a course review standpoint. It’s often said that the riders define the course, not vice versa, and this being a CAT 5 race, they did just that.
I carpooled to the race with strongman Torsten Zorn and figured he would have a good shot at a high placing. Coming off of a 2 month break from racing, and considering my last race was just another sufferfest trying to survive, I figured I would be watching him from the back of the pack. After arriving to the race we meet up with Hector Hernandez and Jason Fucik and pre ride the course to reveal a headwind on the rising side of the course.
The announcer calls up the Cat 5 racers to the start line and I nab a front row spot. The last time I got in the front row I ended up chasing the group due to not being able to clip in. Fortunately, this did not happen, but quite the opposite. I sprint off the line to inject a little pace into the race and I look back to see who’s on my wheel, nobody. Somewhere between my inexperience and my excitement it seemed like a good idea to have a go so I kept the pressure on, got through the first turn alone, and stayed away for ~3 miles before getting caught after pounding my face against a headwind.
Now that I’m back in the pack, I’m beginning to understand what makes breaking away so hard. As I try to recover I can feel every pedal revolution of this little 1.5% rise sapping energy from my legs. There’s no way I am going to be the idiot that sprints off the line then gets dropped on lap one of the race, right? Thankfully I was able to recover and begin to feel good again as we near turn two. In the approach to turn two the smell of braking carbon wheels is present in the air and the speed nears a complete stop, these turns would define the race. As we exit the turn there is a mad dash to get up to speed as the peloton flies down the downhill tailwind section to begin lap two, which was uneventful except for Torsten getting upset by the slow pace and deciding to drive it himself. Lap three contained the close call that no Cat 5 race can exist without as two riders touched wheels but luckily nobody went down and the race went on.
As we barrel down the tailwind section the bell sounds to indicate the final lap and the pace picks up going into turn one. As if the previous three laps weren’t any indication, the turns cannot be taken fast and the sound of slamming brakes rings in my ears and burning carbon fills my nose, only this time with a twist, the sound of brakes is combined with interspersed unclipping cleats(Cat 5 races sure do keep you on your toes). A sprint out of the turn ensues and as I try moving up on the inside I am blocked twice by swerving riders and relegated to a position in the middle of the peloton. Coming into the last turn, that all too familiar braking sound once again sounds like an alien spaceship incoming to abduct the peloton and I begin to bang elbows and rub gloves with the riders next to me as we just try to stay upright as the turtle-like speed of the approach. While I’m stuck in the halted pack, I see the leaders sprinting to victory out of the exit of the turn. Knowing the day cannot be salvaged, I ride down the final straight to the finish line in a safe manner, collect my upgrade point, and live to ride another day. I learned a lot and had fun doing it, can’t really ask for much more than that.
Results on the day in the 72-rider field are as follows: Hector Hernandez 16th, Torsten Zorn 32nd, Dante Chambers 46th, and Jason Fucik 47th.
Thank you to our PAA/Remax Team Sponsors: Pasadena Athletic Association, Remax Properties: The Loeffler Team, Louis Garneau, and PowerBar.