Monday, August 13, 2007

8/13/08 Gateway Canyons Race

A small combined group of about 30 including cat4's and 35+ (at least 2 fromer pros including Scott Mercier) took off easy for the first 6 miles. Jose and I chatted a bit. We were surprised at how easy it was to find yourself at the back of this smaller group if you weren't paying attention.... - report by Horatio Gutierrez

First off, I agree with Jose that this a great race and venue (nice vibe, nice resort, great views, great for family etc.). I highly recommend this race to everyone. The promoters work hard. They really care about cycling. Talk this race up to friends in the front range because it would be a shame to lose this one. The TT, RR, and possible future crit also give you another shot at a state championship placing or title-USCF.

Clinic:The clinic was fun and informal. I got some good racing tips and tactics from several pros including Scott Mercier (US postal, olympian) and Ken Christoff (former national champ). I enjoyed their many stories of racing with the international pros we all know. I also got some honest opinions about doping in the pro ranks-yes, it's even more prevalent and worse than you thought. In one pro's opinion, 100% of the tour de france peleton has doped in some form preceding the race. Anyway, I would be happy to share some tips and stories. Just ask me some time.

Racing preamble: This weekend's racing was all about training for me. My low expectations made for a fun weekend despite poor performance-especially in the RR. I used this weekend to help me get ready for the Santa Fe stage race in 3 weeks since it included a 40 kmTT followed by a long RR. I've come to the realization that by keeping my competitive nature in check and focussing on myself rather than results, I'm having a lot more fun, which is what it is all about! So, on paper my weekend's racing looks like crap but I had a blast.

40(42)km TT: The course was great- flat with a few small hills and rollers some headwind on the way back along a beautiful canyon valley with little traffic. I was surprised that my time was 1:02...since my average speed was 24.9mph but I later learned the couse was really more like 42km. I only got 5th out of 7 in the cat4's but was within 2 minutes of the top cat3's and 4's (faster than the 3's) and I took a minute off a cat 3 that I know I'm fairly even with based on prior TT times. It was hot and I could definitely have gone harder. Oh well. Longer TT's are tough. It's hard to hold that edge of blowing up for the entire time, which is what you have to do if you want to do well.

RR (aka the 75 mile individual TT): The course isn't as bad as it sounds- not steep 3-7% climbing grade 5,000+ feet of climbing, 88 miles total. You climb up hit a long plateau with lots of rollers, go down then do it in reverse. Headwind both ways!

A small combined group of about 30 including cat4's and 35+ (at least 2 fromer pros including Scott Mercier) took off easy for the first 6 miles. Jose and I chatted a bit. We were surprised at how easy it was to find yourself at the back of this smaller group if you weren't paying attention. Jose moved up and I stayed about a 1/3 from the back. Then the pace picked up as expected (there was a KOM prize at 9 miles). The pace didn't even seem that fast but I began to feel those tight weak legs that I often feel when I try to climb the day after a hard effort the preceding day. I thought I was the first popped off the back but I looked back to see 3 other riders already well behind me. It was hot. I had to pace myself or I would blow up early. As I crested the initial climb, I could see a few others strung out individually way out in front of me. I climbed some more. Later on the plateau rollers, I bridged to a young Durango guy, we worked together and picked up a third guy just before the descent to Whitewater. The third guy fell back on the descent but caught up later at the turnaround feedzone. As I neared the bottom of the descent, I saw Jose alone but not too far behind the main lead pack being driven by two cat 4 GS Boulder guys. If only I were a little stronger, it would have been nice to work with Jose.

As I climbed back, I dropped the Durango guy and was dropped by the third rider in our group. Then, half way up the climb, sudden massive leg cramp in my inner right thigh. I had to unclip my right leg several times to rub the cramb out. Then new cramps developed in my outer right thigh. I spent about 20 minutes dealing with severe cramping that I thought would surely end my race leaving me hopping on one leg along the roadside. Somehow with deep rubbing I managed to get the cramps to a manageble level (they never really subsided until the final descent- I even feel them a little today the day after). During this time the Durango guy had slowly made his way to me but he looked even worse than me. I slowed but soon realized he would be of little help to me. I went on alone. Up the rode, I saw the third guy very slowly zigzagging up the road as though the grade was 22% but the grade was only 2-3%. I passed him encouraging him to grab my wheel but he was totally blown- he said he could pedal no more. Poor guy. But, I would not give up. I was determined to finish this thing. I continued solo (the entire 2nd half of the race) into the wind and in the heat. A pick up truck carrying 3 racers, including my 2 prior companions, handed me a water bottle as I marched on. I went thru 11 water bottles during that race. Later, on the plateau a brief but welcome thunderstorm hit. At this point, it was just comical for me. The added headwind gusts and cool rain actually felt good and I was beginning to feel good again. I eventually hit the fun descent home. I felt great- Ah endorphins. I crossed the line in a brief sunshower not much under 5 hours. I got top 15 (ok, there weren't many more than that that but I know I finished ahead of at least 4 or 5 other guys and at least 3 cat4's despite it all). I wasn't dissapointed though. It was actually a fun day of perseverence.

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