Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sun, Sep 26 - 6th Oakland Grand Prix

Today was the first day of my new career: bike racer.

I had signed up earlier this week for the 6th Oakland Grand Prix in the 35+5 category. It turned out that I was the only one from my new club, Peninsula Velo, that had registered for this event. This morning I arrived early, got a 1-day license and bib#, and waited for things to come. I didn't really know what to expect, except that it would be fast and furious. One advice I got, was to hang on to someone's wheel, and I'd be good; it turned out to be a good advice. The course was an approximate 0.85-mile loop through Oakland Downtown streets, and apart from an incline on the finish stretch, it was flat or slightly downhill. The course also had a hairpin turn, which you were advised to only pass single-file. Both the downhill sections and the hairpin provided sufficient opportunity and time to recover before hitting the finish stretch again. The race started at 10:30am, for 20 laps or 17 miles. From then on it was a blur. As advised, I tried to stay covered, and only once I got "stranded" in no-man's land for half a lap between the first two in the break-away and the pack, before the pack swallowed me up. It was rather uneventful apart from one rider crashing, and another one breaking his chain. At some point, I had lost track of which lap we were in. I asked another rider because I couldn't understand the race announcer. The answer was "2" while I still expected maybe 8 laps to go. So soon, the bell for the final lap rang, and the pace picked up. I hung onto the wheel of someone, who after the race said that he kind of started to bonk during the last two laps, and my attempt to make up some ranks came too late. Alas, it was 9th or last place, but still within maybe 10 seconds of the winner and 2-3 bike lengths between 8th place and me. The whole race was over so quickly. I didn't pay much attention to the speed while racing, but I was surprised to see "26" once going up that finish stretch. Final, average speed was 22mph, courtesy of slower speed when recovering. Irrespective of being last, I was happy to place, because my goal was to just survive. Finishing was even better, and "in the top 10" sounds great ;-). Not finishing last is the goal for the next race.


DBrower said...

Sounds like a good time to me, no skin left on the pavement!


Jeong Kim said...

Congratulations! I was in that race with you. :)

pommi said...

@ Jeong,

yes, I know your name. You won the race, and we chatted briefly after the race with the USAC official at the finish line. The guy said to me something like "pay attention, he's good", referring to you.

I'll be racing the 45+4/5 tomorrow at Fort Ord; if I'm not mistaken, I think you're signed up for the 35+4/5.


Jeong Kim said...

Have a fun + safe race tomorrow! See you out there. :)