The weekend of April 6-9, 2006 was the Sea Otter Classic. One of the largest cycling events in the U.S. and it's held here at Laguna Seca Raceway. My father is the volunteer coordinator for the VIP Tent and I must say the best volunteer job there is! We've been volunteering each year for the past 4 years I think and we always have such a great time.
In addition to volunteering, I like to do the circuit race which this year was held on friday and the road race on saturday. The circuit race is 50 minutes long around the race track; one of the only times that one is allowed to ride their bikes on the track. Since I don't race bikes that often I am a sand-bagger in the women's cat. 4. There were approximately 30 women in my category and once the whistle blew to start I stayed as close to the front as possible. I believe it took us about 10min./lap and I eventually saw the "3 Laps to Go" sign. I was going to wait until maybe the last lap to make my move, just like I did last year....Jumped with one lap to go and rode as fast as I could and no one caught me. With two laps to go, I saw mom and dad on the side cheering for me as we went up the first incline. Dad motioned for me to jump and get away and I mouthed back, "Now???" Knowing that I had two laps to go and not sure if I could solo it for that long. He shook his head yes and I jumped. I pedaled as hard as I could up the back side hill and once I reached the top and was about to ride down the corkscrew I glanced back and saw on one behind me. I kept it strong on the back side down hill and made the left turn directly into a strong headwind...I looked again and on one was there. I kept on pushing through the start/finish area with the lead motorcycle just in front of me. One lap to go and I had to really push it up the hill because I was unsure if the pack behind was getting organized. If they were, I had to really keep pushing. Down the corkscrew again and into the head wind I went for a second time by myself. I kept on pushing through and eventually crossed the line in first place by 51 seconds!! Second and third place finished only 1 second apart! I can't believe I held off the pack for two laps!!
It took forever for the awards ceremony and we waited in the rain for three hours until the awards were given.
The next day (Saturday) I went for a 14 mile hilly run in the morning before I had to volunteer at the VIP Tent. My run felt good and I figure I'd have enough time to relax before my 4pm road race through Ft. Ord.
At 3:45pm I made my way towards the start line on the track. Today I was racing in the master's women 30+ category. I thought that it might be a bit more challenging! The official grouped the 30+ and 40+ women together to make it a larger pack and we were able to work together. There were only 8 women racing in 30+! The course was 4 loops in Ft.Ord. A 46 mile hilly course at that. There is a great uphill finish (Barloy Canyon Rd.) and since I train out there, I think I had a slight advantage.
The race started late and instead of starting at 4pm, it was closer to 4:30pm.
A group of us broke away after the first loop; Three 40+ women and three 30+ women (including myself). We finally got organized and were never caught by the chase pack. One woman broke away and got a small gap, but it didn't last long as we caught her. We made the right hand turn up Barloy Canyon toward the finish. The six of us stayed together until one woman started to get away (her name is Monica and she raced the 40+ for Velo Bella). A women who raced for Galaxy Granola jumped on Monica's wheel and the two of them were a few feet away from the rest of us. I decided to go with them and broke from the other 3 women. Just before we reached the 200m mark no one had jumped yet. I didn't want this to come down to a three-way sprint, so once we got just inside the 200m mark I jumped with all I had and crossed the line in first place!!
I looked at my watch after I crossed the line, it just after 7pm; thank goodness it was still barely light outside. I wasn't sure if awards were going to be given out tonight considering it was getting late and all the vendors had gone home and the only people left were those that raced and maybe some of their friends and family. I rode my bike to the grand stand with Patty and Flavia, two women who raced in cat. 3's and who placed 2nd and 1st, respectively. We wanted to know if awards were being given or not. Apparently they were, but results had yet to be posted, so I had time to ride back to my car, change into some warm clothes and then walk back. The results still weren't posted and by now it was 8pm. I thought mom and dad had left, but when I got back to the stage I saw my mom waiting for me! She had decided to stick around and watch the awards.
Well, when the results were posted, finally, they were wrong!! It had me in third place. I had to put in my protest to one of the USA Cycling officials to get it corrected before they could hand out awards. I think most categories results were messed up because officials ended up not allowing some participants to finish
the final loop of the course because it was getting late. So what happened was, these people who didn't finish the required amount of loops ended up crossing the finish line with their timing chips and getting a time and finishing place. That's why the two women who finished 20 minutes
ahead of me were put in first and second place and me in third...those two women were down a lap each. Mom and I ended up waiting, along with some of the other participants, until 8:35pm when our awards were finally announced. It was horrible. I know some of the other women were cold, tired and hungry and we all just wanted to get home! Mom and I ended up walking to our car in the dark at 8:40pm and couldn't wait to get home to eat dinner and take a shower!!
the 3rd place woman and Me
Besides the awards fiasco, the weekend was extremely fun. It's great to volunteer and race and we also met some very nice people! Oh and I even ran into Derek Wiback, who used to ride on the SDSU cycling team with me. Crazy who you meet at these things!
I am preparing now for Wildflower Long Course which is on May 6th.