Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2003 July 6: Dan Burger Point Race Series #3

This was a 50K roadskate race. I had never done a skating race before, and I had always been very curious about them. So (despite the ungodly earliness of the hour) Lauren and I went up Cañada Road in San Mateo and huddled about, waiting for the race to start. It was extremely cold and misty, but I didn't wear a jacket, since I (correctly) figured that things would be heating up shortly.

The course was seven laps of out-and-back along Cañada Road. The "out" portion of each lap featured some downhill (which of course had to be climbed back up on the way back) that permitted some pretty serious speed.

When the race started, I was pretty much in the dark about how things were going to work. Was drafting important? What did people do downhill? I soon enough learned!

A few people started out pretty fast. I tried to hang with them at first, but I quickly decided that I belonged further back. For most of the first lap, I was kind of on my own; after that, though, I started hooking up with 1-3 people at a time and making a little paceline with them. Around the third lap, I hooked up with six people or so, and we formed a paceline of sorts that stayed together for most of the rest of the race. Because nobody seemed eager to do a whole lot of pulling, I took the lead for most of the rest of the race. Two of the other guys or so helped lead our paceline occasionally, but their contribution was pretty small compared to mine (if I say so myself, and I certainly do).

Now, mind you, I was quite aware of the fact that my doing all this pulling was quite possibly going to screw me in the end (this is a classic first-time bike racer mistake, after all, and while I've never done bike racing, I have certainly consulted the literature!). And indeed, that's what happened. At the end of the final lap's "out" section, the guys I was with suddenly went past me, and it turned out (surprise!) that they had significantly more umph left than I did. I finished a minute or two behind them-- I felt pretty wiped on the last uphill leg. Lauren had been biking in the vicinity during the race, and she caught up with me on the last uphill (she came back to see the spectacular finish). I drafted off her a bit, but rather ineffectually (her natural tendency on the bike was to go a lot faster than I felt like going at that late stage!).

My final official time was 2:03:40; more details are here.

It was interesting to see how racers handle downhills. We'd typically be in a paceline, and as the terrain started to slope downwards, we all tucked down low, and each person would have a hand on the back of the person in front of him/her. As I bitterly (I hope the bitterness comes through!) indicated earlier, I was typically leading my paceline, so I didn't have a chance to see exactly what other folks were doing. But it seemed to me that sometimes the person behind me was actually contacting me by sticking his helmet right up against my butt or lower back (the closer, the better, for drafting, of course). In any case, we flew down that hill! It would have been pretty nasty if someone in the paceline had a fall.

This race was the 3rd in a series of five races over the course of the summer. I was unable to attend any of the earlier races, but I'm planning on making it to the 5th race on October 26. Hopefully I'll be able to rein in my tendency to lead the paceline and end up with enough energy to beat everyone near me! I've been growling all summer about those leeches from the race who just coasted on my energy and then left me all used-up to fend for myself... In the meantime, I console myself with the knowledge that I got a huge workout than none of those guys did! After the race, my quads and back were really sore.

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