The more observant of you may notice that I skipped the race report for Poor College Kids Road Race and the Mothballs crit. That's because my performance was less than spectacular and I'd rather just move on.
While my softer-shelled compatriots were off in sunny, warm, Arizona racing at Valley of the Sun, I was at the UCLA Road Race on Saturday, rolling around the Devil's Punchbowl course. Sunrise on Saturday morning revealed a spectacular scene of low mountains and rolling hills with a dusting of snow, all without a cloud in the sky. By the time the Men's 4/5 field started at 9:15, though, temperatures were just above freezing, and most of the ice on the road had melted.
I got to the line early and assured myself an excellent starting position. After leading the pack for the first two miles the serious uphill started and I started getting passed. I'm no climber, and this just wasn't my day. I picked up a few people who had passed me, but there wasn't anything organized. In the end, the race was essentially a twenty-five mile uphill time trial. I took thirty-sixth out of a full field of seventy-five.
Sunday saw me in Lancaster for the UCLA Time Trial. A slightly rolling, out-and-back, 23km course, I liked my odds going into the day. Time trials have always been something I'm good at, and this year I have some new equipment. My new time trial bike, a Rudy Project Syton helmet, a bitchin' Liquid Fitness skinsuit, and a rear wheel cover were all ready to go at noon on Sunday.
After getting my start time (12:23:30) at sign-in I headed out to warm up. I stopped by the starting tent for a time check and headed south from there. Despite thrashing myself on the road race Saturday, I felt great. I rolled back up to the line with five minutes to spare and tried to stay loose. I rolled to the line and held the bike steady while the marshall got a grip on my saddle rails. I clipped in and awaited the countdown.
As soon as the starter said "Go," I let go of my brakes and started started cranking. After a hundred yards I tucked into my aerobars and focused on cranking. Throughout my race I focused on keeping my Powertap over 300 watts; everytime I saw it dip I pushed harder. Everytime I felt the pain releave I pushed harder. And everytime I saw a rider ahead of me I made up my mind to pass them. As I passed the 500 meters to go mark I dropped the hammer even harder and poured every ounce of strength into my cranks. I blew across the finish line to post a 29:52, good enough for a win in the Cat 4 race.
The credit for this success goes to my legs and to my Powertap, which gave me something objective to focus on, and distract and motivate myself to fight through the pain. Thanks to the guys at UCLA for putting on a terrific weekend; I look forward to coming back next year.
And in other news, the location for Elite Nationals has been announced as Bend, OR this year. I sense a road trip in my future...