Anders Bjork - Six Sigma

Anders Bjork - Piedmont High, Varsity

Anders Bjork - Piedmont High, Varsity

The Piedmont team drove up during lunch on Saturday. I was pretty excited to camp and race at one of my favorite courses. I did two preride laps at a decent pace, getting a feel for the corners and where to push hard on race day. I felt confident that I would have a strong race based on my previous result of 15th place. This had been after my prom, and I had only gotten 4-5 hours of sleep and still earned my best result. That experienced convinced me of the importance of a positive attitude going into the race. I think the reason that I did well then was that I was in a stellar mood. I knew that camping with the team would have a similar effect and enable me to get more sleep, so I was optimistic about my chances.
      Camping was, as predicted, a blast. Although there was no option to swim because the creek was low, I managed to take a decent solar shower and avoid a chamois violation. We ate some delicious pasta and lots of chips and veggies with dinner. Then I led a bike-cleaning clinic, giving Robert and Ben some tips on proper bike cleaning and (finally) managing to clean our Trek Fuel Ex. Us kids wandered around and eventually settled at the campfire, where we roasted bare marshmallows (and got some smores later when the “fixin’s” appeared) I laughed until I cried multiple times and was giddy going to bed. In the tent next door, I eavesdropped on Nathan, Aaron, and Conor. They realized I was listening when I cracked up at a joke. We all couldn’t stop laughing for a while. Then Robert and I slept from around 11:00 to about 7:00 with some midnight bathroom trips (sorry Robert). I was urged from my bed by the rising heat of the tent and Coco’s wake up calls at about 7:15 in the morning.
      Knowing my usual tendency to skip breakfast when I am supposed to eat it, I chose to make myself a breakfast sandwich just before 8:00, complete with bacon, egg, and sausage on a bagel. I added some tasty yogurt and granola and lots of fruit to make it the real deal. I didn’t get too nervous and was able to enjoy it.
After helping the ladies get fully ready for their races (some OC stamping was instrumental) I headed to the Stanford Bike Fit tent to check about bringing Megan over to look at Coach Tom’s calf, which he worried he had sprained. Unfortunately, she had already been sent out on course so I relayed Tom’s request. I did the usual heckling for Ella and my other friends in the Ladies Races. It was a pretty typical morning except that it lacked the usual anxiety; I felt less nervous than ever before, allowing me to enjoy the pre-race festivities.
       My optimism continued as I warmed up on the trainer. Despite being a bit behind schedule, Jhonny and Tom helped us get an excellent warmup - I felt very strong at the start and not burnt out. I hydrated excessively, drinking more than 2 bottles with electrolyte tabs in them during the hour before my race. I gulped a GU 10 minutes before starting and soaked my jersey top in water to give me an initial cooldown in the heat. Because it was a hot day I took extra precautions to make all of my bottles electrolyte-laden and feed-ready.

      I arrived at the lineup just in time to grab the last spot in the first General Staging row. Usually, I am earlier, but this race was quite close. I got extra lucky when Ezra moved me up a row because of two missing call-ups. We didn’t dilly dally too much and when Coco said “GO” I put down a good strong effort. The two riders in front of me were particularly fast, and my little row surged ahead, placing me around 12th going under the tunnel. I passed a few more riders on the wider sections of the finishing area, eventually getting to around 8th place for the first climb. Liam of Albany couldn’t ride as fast as he initially started, and I never saw SF Liam. This meant that my Liam-Liam Tour was going well. Soon Emmet got in front of me and I decided to just hang behind him as much as I could. Although I didn’t initially expect it to be the whole race, I ended up sticking with him and hanging on. He was really fun to ride with and very encouraging. Furthermore, I was in about 8th place, making this already my strongest race of the year. Remembering last race, I continued my optimism and believed I could stay up there. The first lap was uneventful other than getting the wrong bottle feed; however, this was a blessing because I did not grab the correct one and they were awesome about getting me a backup. The pit zone was just too fast, chaotic, and confusing because everyone was taking a feed and we were getting water-doused as well as given bottles. I also saw that the PHS feed team was (pleasantly) surprised how early I got there. They were not alone in their excitement. Almost everyone who knew me and saw me racing with Emmet in 8th place got super excited and cheered wildly. This improved my morale and helped me stay in that position. It was an awesome feedback loop.
      We didn’t catch any JV riders until pretty late in lap #2. By then I had settled into my routine and was contentedly following Emmet, enjoying his company, his pacing, and his encouragements. Caleb had caught us up after dealing with some mechanicals and brought the El Cerrito rider Evan Garrison with him. We had a nice little pack of 4 Varsity boys. Unfortunately, we happened upon a wobbly JV rider on a dusty switchback, and he freaked out and fell down. I had to stop and ended up falling over in the process. I avoided him and Caleb and Evan pretty much let me hop back on in front of them, which was very sportsmanlike. I noticed that riding in a group of about 4 makes passing JV riders more intimidating, and we actually had a similar incident to this one later on too. This was disappointing because I always try to do very safe passes. I think these poor racers just became distracted when they heard us coming up hot on their heels.
      The race continued on pretty much as I have described, with Emmet leading me and Caleb and Evan. On one of the last climbs of lap three, Caleb passed me, which I was ok with because he has been doing much better. In retrospect, I wish I had tried to keep in front of him because he could have pushed me to stay with him and Emmet better. Anyways, I ended up right in front of Evan, who predictably passed me right before the last downhill of the last lap. I knew I should try to keep with him, but I just couldn’t get up the energy to catch back up. I was pretty exhausted and did not feel strong enough, so I let him go and chased him down the singletrack. My rear brake was barely working thanks to a busted brake spring, and the downhill was trickier then than it had ever felt. I guess I just felt so content with my race overall that I let him get away.

     I finished my last NorCal race smiling bigger than ever. I was too tired to hear Bill and excited to see my teammates who had also had great races. I got big hugs from Emmet, Nathan, my Dad, Ella, and Conor. It was a great feeling to have surprised everyone and gotten my best result. I was also happy to make Tom proud because he has been saying that I could get top 10 the whole season. This race I got 10th. It was more than I had dreamed of.
It seems as though all of my efforts to control my race performance culminated at this success. With a perfect warm-up, proper nutrition, past training, recent tapering, crazy hydration, and most importantly high spirits, I had equipped myself well for my race. It felt amazing to have such a crazy improvement since last race and the season as a whole. And I was enormously appreciative to my coaches and teammates for nominating me for the “Most Supportive Teammate” award. It is such an honor to be part of the incredible Oakland, Piedmont, and NorCal community. Wow.

went well: all the things just came together, and most importantly a positive attitude
Work on: beat Evan Garrison at States!

Thank you to all the people who made this weekend possible! And thanks if you read this far too :).

Anders Bjork, varsity boys, Piedmont HS, 10 / 20