Earlier in the week leading up to the race, I learned that I had no call up and would be starting in general staging because even though I finished fairly well in all my races last year, I only raced in 3 so I did not have a high overall score of points. Knowing this, my strategy was to take it pretty easy at the start, but for the rest of the race the goal was to gain back as many spots as possible and treat this as my throwaway race in the overall standings.
On Friday my mom pulled me out of school early to pack up the car. We were on the road by about 1. Traffic was pretty bad and we stopped for food on the way down so we got to the course at about 3:30. I got my number plate and went out for a preride lap with Arlo, Tom, and others. After doing one, I decided to do one more just to make sure I was pretty familiar with the course. Compared to the CCCX race I had just done, this course seemed a little bit more technical (as technical as Ft. Ord can be) and more hilly with lots of short punchy climbs. After the second lap I headed back to the hotel to shower and then walked over to Gusto with my mom to eat dinner with the BOD team. I had tons of bread, a bowl of pasta with meat sauce, friend calamari, a caesar salad, and lots of water. I went back to my room a little bit early because I had to do some homework that was due by midnight. I got it all sorted out and got in bed with the lights out by about 9:30.
On the day of the race, I woke up at about 7:30, packed up the car, and headed to the venue, arriving just before 8. I put my bike and bags in their proper place and then grabbed a large bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and cashews for breakfast. I filled it a little too much and ended up not eating all of it. I then headed over to the start with Johnny and watched the girls’ starts. Once they were all on their way, I went back to the pit to put blocks on my top tube, fill water bottles, and get my bike on a trainer. At about 9:30ish I hopped on the bike to begin my warmup, during which I drank almost a full bottle with electrolytes and ate a gu. By the end of the warmup I was properly sweating and feeling good overall. I got my bike off the trainer, refilled my bottle, took off the leg warmers, and headed over to staging to make sure I got to start in the first row of general. Surprisingly I had no nerves while I waited at the start, and I ended up starting in the 5th or 6th row. During this time I was talking to the riders around me to make sure they knew to hold their lines and not make any crazy moves, because my last race start at Ft. Ord resulted in the worst scrape I’ve ever had, right at the start.
Coco announced the call ups, and then we were off! The start was super chill - I practically spun up the hill and just made sure I got onto the single track in front of the rest of my row, and without incident. Then on the following short little flat I made several passes before the first hill. On that hill it felt like we were moving pretty slowly and as we reached the top, I realized I was on the wrong side of a split in the field and I was losing time on the lead group. I passed the rest of the train as quickly as I could and ended up in front on the first real descent. I then developed a stomach cramp, which was really inconvenient and has never happened before. I tried to push through it and made a little gap on the riders behind me. After that point for the rest of the first lap and the first half of the second, I was alone. Occasionally I could see Arlo and another rider in the distance ahead of me, but I could not close the gap. I found myself struggling to the top on the climbs that I was able to power through during the CCCX race, and I continually had to back the pace off to catch my breath. For the majority of the race I was alone, trying to ignore my pain and close the gap between myself and Arlo. It seemed like he was at the top of every hill that I was at the bottom of, so I would try to catch him each time, but ended up failing. About halfway through the second lap I noticed that the other rider had dropped Arlo and he seemed to be getting tired. I knew it was time to really close the gap and on the gravel hill I came within about 10 ft of his wheel but lost him a bit again on the following descent. We stayed about 5 sec apart until the final large hill, where I gave everything I had left to catch him. By the top I was on his wheel, and was preparing to pass him, but a freshman rider was blocking my way. Arlo and I both rode around him at the same time, one of us on each side, but I was too gassed to pass Arlo as well. He remained ahead of me and ended up finishing 3 seconds ahead.
Overall the race went okay, because I finished in the top 10, which was a major improvement from my starting position, but I think I could have been fresher on the hills and also could’ve done something differently nutrion-wise before the race so I wouldn’t have cramped up on the first lap.
Bishop O’dowd, Sophomore