So this bicycle racing season has been one of ups and downs. Right now I'm on a big up. This past Saturday was the Southern California / Nevada Cycling Association (SCNCA) Team Time Trial District Championships in Palmdale (Lake Los Angeles). I rode it with three other Lightning Velo members, all of whom were over 40 years old. We were in the 180+ (total age) category and I was the oldest rider on our team. The punch line is, despite some problems on my part, we averaged 27 MPH for roughly 23 miles -- good enough for a bronze medal!
The most satisfying part of the race was that despite not training together as a team beforehand, we rode very smoothly as a team -- no close calls with respect to running into each other. Next on the satisfaction list was beating the 4th place team by 11 seconds. Their team leader is someone who I've known for a long time and we have a "friendly" rivalry that usually includes some smack talk (on his part).
A few days later, on Tuesday, I was at El Dorado Park in Long Beach for the California State Senior Olympics. First and second place in these events qualified you for the 2009 National Senior Games in Palo Alto.
First up was the 5K Individual Time Trial (ITT). I had never raced anything that short and I didn't have a good feel on how to meter my effort. In the end I went out too fast but I still ended up 3rd for my first medal of the games.
Later that day, I did the 40K road race on the standard "Eldo" course. There were 10 of us in the race, eight in the 50-54 age group and two in the 55-59 age group (which included my friend Craig). In my age group there were three members of La Grange, a Los Angeles team, and three members from Peninsula Velo, an northern California team. Things were not looking good.
The race pace at the start was tepid at best. I tried once to speed things up with no luck. My next attempt to get some response from the pack was met with an inadvertently large gap. As I sat up waiting for them to reel me in, my friend Craig and a Peninsula Velo guy came up to me and when they caught me we still had a reasonable gap. So with about 17 miles to go in the race, we put our heads down and stayed away for the rest of the race. We almost lapped the field.
Bell lap and I had second wheel coming out of the last corner which was still about 500 meters from the finish. I decided to try to open a gap on the slight uphill and try to hold it to the finish. Unfortunately, that didn't work and I ended up with 2nd.
So today, Wednesday, started with a 10K ITT. I had high hopes but my legs were too tired from the previous day so I couldn't quite hold a 25 MPH average. I don't know my exact placing but I suspect that it was another bronze. Note that per my computer, the course was short by about 0.3 miles.
The road race was supposed to be 20K but it was also shortened by about 2 miles. We were the last race of the day and the wind had come up (more on the wind later). I had decided to stay with the pack which consisted of 11 50-54 year old racers and 3 55-59 year olds. A half lap into the race a La Grange and a Peninsula Velo racer moved off the front never to be seen again. I know that I could have hooked up with them but I thought that I shouldn't be too greedy with the qualifying spots. The race was the slowest that I've ridden in years. I pulled a whole lap a 22-23 MPH just to get a bit of a workout.
Coming out of the last corner I was last, but I noticed that the guy who had won the previous day was now sprinting off the front of the group going after the bronze. I thought, "hey that's being kind of greedy," so I took off on the left side and fortunately everyone else was single file on the right blocking the wind. I went flying off the front of the group, worked it a bit to catch the guy, sat on his wheel for 20 meters, and then sprinted around him for the bronze.
All in all a pretty good couple of days of racing -- a silver and two bronzes (and maybe another silver or bronze).
[Update: I ended up with a silver in the 50-54 40K road race and bronzes in the 50-54 20K road race, the 5K time trial, and the 10K time trial. Next stop is Palo Alto in 2009.)