Saturday, July 25, 2009

NCNCA Masters Championships Road Race - Someone have a spare shoe?

Race: NCNCA Masters Championships Road Race

Imagine racing with one broken cleat, yet finishing your best ever. Check it out…

Representing the San Jose Bike Club in the 40+ race was Chris Wire and I. Chris’ job was to keep an eye on the strongmen, and mine was to help where I can. Unfortunately, within the first 4 miles my right cleat broke. Why couldn’t this happen during my warm-up? Why not during training? Ugh. 95 degrees, no shade and 52 miles (5 laps) left to go.

First time up the main climb, my right foot popped out of pedal and slammed my leg. Ouch. Imagine me trying to power climb without standing up. You guessed it, back I drifted. I struggled to stay connected while the field split apart. The field was immediately whittled down to 21. I was number 21.

The attacks came and came. I could not respond at all. My foot was flying out of the pedal, my crank hitting my leg, and my attitude getting worse and worse. Luckily, about nine studs take off (including Chris) in little groups, which leaves 12 guys for me to deal with. I am convinced I cannot finish with a broken cleat, so at the feed zone I yell to Laura, “Right Shoe!” I actually had a long description to give her on what the problem was, and where to find the shoe, but only had enough time to get two words out.

Second time up the climb I get dropped with two others but chase and chase. I cannot stand up at all now and am starting to whine like a baby.

At the feed, Jeremy Wire gives me a life-saving hand up of water (It is so freaking hot I am drinking almost 2 bottles every 1/2 hour!), and Laura gives me a race-saving hand up of a shoe. How cool is that?! Shoe goes directly in my mouth while I try and figure out how to switch them. It hurt a bit to pedal barefoot on Speedplay pedals while the other guys continued the chase but I was able to hang on. I toss the broken shoe.

We finally catch on along the run-in to the third climb. Four more guys are off the back of our pack. Now we are down to eight guys, and racing for tenth place. Third and fourth climbs are fine. I can now stand up, accelerate at will, and am feeling OK despite the heat. I can tell at least 6 or 7 guys are really suffering. I am even able to keep up with Dominic Giampaolo (Alto Velo), who is a great climber and has always torn me inside out.

On the fifth lap, we catch two guys who have fallen back. Our field is up to ten and we are racing for eighth place. This is the best situation I have ever been in at this race. Jeremy and Laura continued their hand ups and I keep drinking and pouring water on myself.

I am feeling fine. I go hard on the last climb.

Two Zenn Racing Team guys go with me. Chris Ott and Scott Fonseca. Scott drops me and I drop Chris. The remaining field is far back. Scott solo’s in the last 5 miles for 8th, while I solo in for 9th. Tired, but really satisfied!