Starting off this communique with a sincerest thank you to everyone that has responded to these posts. I haven’t had a chance to respond directly to everyone (internet connection is most sluggish) but I am reading them all and appreciate the advice, feedback, and encouragement.
On to the racing. Much better day today on a even tougher stage then yesterday, 75miles with 6000ft vertical. For those that have raced UCLA RR, the past two days have easily been back-to-back of those. Two main Cat 3 climbs with a lot of rolling shorter stuff mixed in between. Terrain is the best I have ever road raced on. Think Figueroa Mountain (up outside of Solvang) paved fire roads weaving through ponderosa pines some of which are completely closed to traffic for the racing.
After completely popping on the final climb yesterday, I was really loathing another day of this at the beginning but once we got going on my attitude turned for the better. First climb was 6miles in and per usual I found myself quickly at threshold effort. I don’t think I fully appreciated the altitude of this race coming in and it definitely has effected me. I’m at least 30W off my normal power output and my heart is just racing. Everyone in this field can climb and I do well at the 5-8% stuff. When the road turns up to 8%-12% I am really burning matches to stay with the lead bunch.
Managed to hang on to the lead group up until the last 2km of the 1st climb but came unglued when I had to stop and unclip to get water at the first feed zone. Hard effort from there to re-attach in some of the rolling stuff that followed (more matches were burned).
Next up was the technical descent I mentioned in yesterday’s report. -12% often and very thin with switchbacks. Really made a lot of time on this one. Took risks, passed a lot of people. Live life taste death. Harked back to my Superbike racing days and mountain biking. Really helped that my Dad pre-drove the course with me and as we predicted, it really managed to split up the field. Once we got to the bottom things flattened out with slight upgrade and the lead crew after the descent put the hammer down hard. In a group of 8 off the front first but a few managed to bridge and we ended up with 14. Still another 40miles to go but we were in a good position. As Wes predicted, some super strong junior broke further with 2 others and we couldn’t catch them. He ended up winning the stage and dropping the other two. Rest of the race was pretty par for the course. Taking turns in a smaller group … sometimes not. Last cat 3 climb was much more manageable. 60miles in and everyone was hurting. Felt strong at the end and put in a good effort to the line.
Feel better about how I ran the race today and ended up finishing at 6th place for the day. Moving in the right direction in the GC and sitting 14th place. 1min 7s back from a top-5, which was my lofty goal coming into the season in January. At this point I’d be really happy with a top-10 though.
Tomorrow is the individual TT and I’m going to listen to death metal, drink a red bull, and try and take it to these climbers. It’s probably my last chance to move up the GC. Saturday is a crit and not going to move things much (knock on wood). Sunday is the last stage and it’s an absolute bear (hardest of the tour) with extended climbing sections in the 12% range. I’m hoping the TT will offset some potential loses on the last stage. Gotta be realistic with this field and I am just struggling to climb with these guys.
Thats all for now. Over and out,