I am now back in Southern California until I ship over to Belgium in the middle of March. I am living in the town of Oxnard, home of Silver Strand beach, extreme localism, surfing related beatings, and the setting for the Patrick Swayze film Point Break.
Training rides all start with 15km of intense city riding which is a small price to pay for the sun, mountains, and good company. A lot of Strava hunting to be done in the area too! Down time is usually spent putting in work on the laptop, Strava’ing, watching only the best horror flicks, or (in Canadian style) getting really heated over tight games of NHL 14. We also play a solid amount of ping pong and mini put on our front lawn. Will Elliott and I are essentially twins in terms of ping pong skills, games to 11 lasting nearly an hour. Also an 18 wheeler crushed our front lawn.
The Poor College Kids Road Race was the first race of the 2014 season for Will and I. We were up early getting in a big feed and packing up all our stuff in preparation for the 140km race. The drive was a killer but beautiful. We spent half of it on the Pacific Coast Highway and the other half going over a mountain, crossing switch-backs and going through tunnels. We didn’t have anyone to feed us until our buddy Eric Johnson was done his cat 4 race which was going to be a problem in the heat. I went off the front at the gun, it wasn’t even an attack, I just rolled at about 35km/h and no one hopped in my wheel at first. Soon four riders had bridged up, a couple riders from continental teams and another two locals from established amateur teams. We were riding well together and keeping a solid pace. I was surprised the peleton would let two pros into our move, especially because it included last year’s winner, Tom Soloday from Optum.
After 70km we had a four minute lead and I was finally starting to get some feeds, but I was already thirsty and beginning to cramp, the damage was done. I was chugging back mix and continuing to roll through. Back in the peleton Will was playing the teammate card and followed a dangerous 3 man move with the eventual winner, but slid out and the race was over for him. On lap four of six my group broke with a reshuffle and I found my cramped body on the receiving end, falling back from the group of now 3 leaders. After about half a lap my group was scooped up by a groupo compacto and we were charging towards the leaders. Being essentially a dropped rider I just relaxed in the back of the group of about 10 chugging water and pounding back gels.
I felt I was recovered just enough with 7km to go at the base of a 4km climb to maybe make something out of this race. I followed the wheels to the top with only a descent to the finish. Now as it stood more than 6 riders were blown off on the climb and now four were just ahead of my group of three. The other two riders in my group didn’t have the patience I did and didn’t wait for me to pull. I sat in and waited to use my momentum to fly by the first group that was 100m ahead, riding slowly and looking at each other waiting for someone else to make the pounce, forgetting we were coming in hot. I laid off the back of my trio a bit and charged into the draft, flew to the opposite side of the road, and smashed the pedals all the way up to and immediately past the front four. I was in immense pain as my legs were totally cramped. My calves were so tight I could only position my toes straight down, I was creeping along at best. I saw the line and fought as hard as I could but in the last ten metres two pros shot past me and I lost the race by a mere wheel.
Third was a result I could be content with, but given the circumstances I feel a little more water, time acclimatizing to the SoCal heat, or sleep the race it could easily have gone the other way. Excuses aside I am pleased with the day out and had a lot of fun racing. With 37$ entry and 50$ in cash prizes I came out a huge winner with a surplus of 13$. Although quickly spent on SourPatchKids and a burrito.
Here is a link to the video of the finish!