UCLA Road Race Cat 4 by Rob Richman

RobUCLARRWell, I knew going in this was going to really hurt, as this was my third time racing UCLA.   With each year I have added a lap to race and was up to 4 laps of some deep spelunking in the pain cave (50 miles + 5700 elevation gain).   With two bottles of PowerBar sports drink mix in tow I was ready to roll.  The weather was perfect once we started and the first section was somewhat relaxed, which was nice as it was a huge field.  Once the first series of ‘stair-step’ climbs were upon us, I made my way up the right side of the peloton and was in the top 20 as we made the first turn onto a climb which destroyed me last year.   The pace was really hot at this point, and I was doing everything I could to stay in contact with the front group. I was already going into the red, but knowing that I would have a bit of recovery time on the first descent I hammered it with them.  By the time we crested the climb the field had already split in half.  The descent was fast and enjoyable as there were no nasty crosswinds like the previous years.  I continued sticking with the front group until we came to the final climb on the second lap, at which point a group of around 12 riders broke off the front and were able to gap the rest of the field.   I found shelter within a group of seven riders who were all willing to work together and drill some very fine rotating pace line action.  We held together nicely for the next lap, everyone taking turns and sharing in some fine morning suffering.  I felt pretty good until my nemesis, the LAST CLIMB of the fourth lap, which at this point looked like an extended middle finger staring me in the face.  I was completely gassed and fell off what was left of our group.  Hosed and in survival mode, I geared the engine down, consumed a PowerBar gel and was able to pick off one guy near the finish line, good for 16th place.  Overall it was a great day with members of PAA competing in nearly every category!

Also a huge thanks to Rocky Sanchez and the crew at Empire Bikes for setting me up with my new ride, you guys are the best shop around!

Thank you to our sponsors: Empire Bikes, Re/Max (Pete, Lisa, & Eddie), Nancy Bond Insurance, Robert K. Shimasaki DDS, Polsinelli Attorneys, Coach Rick Babington, Kevin Knapp Insurance Agent, Matt Construction, Powerbar for nutrition support, Louise Garneau for Clothing and Gear Support, Centric Bicycles, Franco Bicycles, Carole Neary Integrated Health & Wellness, and Fly6 Cameras