2013 East Canyon Road Race

The 2013 East Canyon Road Race was one of the funnest races I have done in recent memory, at least now that it is over. This is the third year that I have done this race, the first year (on the newer course) was the third race I had done as a licensed rider. It was about the time I upgraded from Cat 5 to Cat 4, but the 4 race was all filled up so that left me to register in the Masters B race. That was a great year for me, and that race I had a podium finish (3rd place). Last year I was really feeling good about the race and pushed the pace the whole race, but in the final leadup to the finish, I blew a spoke and my wheel jammed up leaving me with a DNF less than a mile to go.

I was really excited for this years race, but again, the weather didn’t look very good during the week just like the week before. This race, without Ira being there, I made a point to be a bit more conservative and watch where I would spend my energy. I was curious if there would be a split on the short steep climb, but in the previous years it wasn’t enough to break things up significantly. I reviewed different strategies in my head and knew I would be riding with some great competition in this race. I got everything ready for my race the evening before and got to bed at a reasonable time.

When I woke up in the morning, it was pouring outside here in Salt Lake City. It was pretty cold, in the 40′s but according to the weather reports the chance of rain was small so I was hoping it wouldn’t be bad but brought extra rain gear just in case. As I drove up the canyon, it didn’t get any better and I could see snow on all of the mountain tops as I drove up there. As i got closer to the race, the sun started to peak out and the temp warmed up. When I got to the parking area, it felt great outside. I took my bike and gear out of my car, set up my trainer and started warming up. It felt warm enough for me to take off one of my layers of clothing.

The second I got off the trainer and out on to the road to ride to the start, I could feel that it was much cooler than on my trainer, but figured I would warm up as soon as we got going. At 10:15, the Masters A group was off and we started calmly riding up the Hogsback ┬ánorth side. The pace was calm, but then an attack by Mark Shaefer kicked things off as my teammate Dave Swensen followed, then the entire pack caught on and the attack was neutralized. Of course I just hung onto the back for the time being, letting things feel out and letting my legs warm up. As we got over the top of the climb the rain started pouring down, and i was a bit nervous about the descent because the previous year I hit 55 mph coming down and didn’t want to be doing those speeds in the rain.

Coming down the descent the rain turned to hail and pelted our skin causing some stinging, but the good thing is the pace wasn’t out of control on the descent. By the time we reached the bottom of the descent, the rain and hail was pouring down and water was splashing up on us. We rode from the bottom of the descent all the way to East Canyon resort and back in a full on downpour. I was miserable, thinking of the Infinite Team camp when we had a similar downpour that resulted in me having to stay inside a gas station warming up for a half hour. It wasn’t quite that bad, just as wet but a few degrees warmer, but I have to admit that I was thinking if it stayed like this I would have to quit the race on the way back. But then I started thinking how badly I hate quitting and wouldn’t be able to live with it, also what my competition would think. I knew if I made it back past the start location, I could at least go further than that and hopefully warm up.

Before the turnaround, the first big attack went off the front and at the turnaround the pace snapped up to full speed along the return of East Canyon reservoir. We were getting closer and closer to the Hogsback short & steep climb where I thought I would be able to move to the front. The pace picked up incredibly hard before the climb, almost to the point where I was feeling like I was on the ropes, but as I looked at my heart rate monitor I was still in the 160′s. I knew it was probably my body feeling very cold and sluggish, so I just tried to hang on and bear with it, but my mind was wondering why it was so hard so early in the climb.

I worked my way to the front of the group, but by that time there were two riders going off the front and catching up with the rider that had broke away earlier. For how I was feeling from a few seconds earlier, I started to pick up the pace and gap the rest of the field, but it was painful and I knew that it might be hard to bridge up to the front, so I let up a little bit and allowed myself to get absorbed by the 4 riders in the chase group. By the time we crested the summit, I was with Mark Shaefer, his teammate Donald Armstrong, a gentleman from FFKR and Jeff Clawson of Canyon, then three riders up the road about 15 seconds. I hoped on back of the train and stayed there for a few minutes before I was ready to fire again and help get us up to the front.

We took turns hammering our way down the 2nd descent of the race, and the rain had stopped an the heat from the expenditure on the climb had helped me to warm up. By the time we reached Henefer, the front group was now made up of 8 people and we had a mere 30 seconds over the remainder of the field. From here on we acted almost as a team time trial and kept the pace pretty high all the way out to the turnaround. After the turnaround I could see the rest of the pack very close by, seemed like just a few seconds and I expected things to regroup at that point. An attack went off the front and we slowly closed in. Once that attack was neutralized another would go off the front. This repeated attacking seemed to go on and on, but I enjoyed it. Our group lost one rider so now it was down to seven, which I liked because I enjoy a ‘divide and conquer’ type of race.

I was excited to get to the last climb, ready for the game to get on. The weather, which was nice for quite a while, had become cold and rainy again on the climb, not to mention a big headwind. I took pulls at the front just to get my heart rate up. The pace was modest for a while and it wasn’t until the first sustained steeper section that an attack came by Cris Williams, and it wen’t unanswered as he rode off and got a decent gap. I finally took up the chase and alternated with Mark Shaefer to try and close the gap. The pace picked up enough until it became just three of us, including the Mark Zimblemann. I was in some good company, two riders that I have such high respect for and who have a pretty legendary status in Utah.

A few more attacks went off, leaving me slightly behind but it slowed down to the point where I could get back on. The first time up the climb I noticed a cabin in the distance that helped me to see how close we were to the finish. This time I made note of it and as I saw it I prepared myself for a sprint. Finally I could see some flashing lights, but I didn’t want to jump just yet because I didn’t want to get to that location and realize I still had further to go, but at the same time, as I have done in previous races, I didn’t want to underestimate the finish either. I finally saw some cones and the finish trailer, I didn’t jump, but calmly shifted down a couple gears in the big ring and started hammering away. I could hear one rider behind me, but didn’t turn around, instead I kept pushing it and as I came up to the finish I just got back in the saddle and kept the torque on. I heard someone cheering my name which felt great, but head down I pushed on until I crossed the finish line in 2nd place, my best yet race as a Cat 3.

The weather was horrible at the top and cold, so it wasn’t long until I started descending the climb to go back to the car. It was cold, but fun, thinking about how the race unfolded and the bad weather. By the time I got to the bottom I was absolutely freezing and could hardly move my hands, but I was done and that was all that mattered. I got inside my car and talked with some teammates for a minute but it took me quite a while to get warmed up. I was happy with a good result and excited to ride with such great riders with so much experience!

State Championships Series

 

This year I was able to compete in all three of the State Championship events, the Time Trial, the Criterium and the Road Race. This year the UCA started something new, the “Overall State Champion” which gathered points from each race and totaled in a series to define the state champion from all disciplines. I was lucky enough to capture a fourth place in the time trial, a 3rd place in the road race and a 4th place in the criterium, sealing the deal with the most points of the cat 3 racers. What a great experience!

State Time Trial

Memorial Day, 2012 was the State Time Trial championships. The evening before Ronnie and I went out to scope the course and ended up riding the entire 40km at an easy pace. The road was flat out and had some minor hills, but mostly flat and decent road. The next morning Angie and I drove out there and set up a place to warm up, everything went pretty well. I set out with 11 other riders and got into my rythmn pretty easily, ramping up to speed and catching my first guy within the first ten minutes. I felt like I was going pretty well, feeling strong and gaining on my rivals. I believe I passed two people by the time I turned around and about to catch my third. When I made the turnaround I saw two of the riders that started behind me, right on my tail, I was pretty shocked. Nevertheless I worked hard and kept them from gaining any more on me and actually had a pretty good kick in the end. Unfortunately I wound up 4th on the day, 1:30 down on the winner, and about a minute off Adam Catmull and Jared Prince. I guess I have some serious work to do on my Time Trialing.

State Road Race Championships at Little Mountain:

Friday I took the day off and got a hotel room up in Logan so that we could get a jump on the State Road Race on Saturday. It was awesome because I picked up Angie from work and we were able to get up to Logan before 7pm, then we went and ate an amazing dinner at the Indian Oven and had a few appitizers and a coconut Kurma, Chicken Tika Masala and some delicious Indian ice cream. The food had such great flavors and I had a great date with my love. After we ate we just wandered around Logan looking at some charming older homes around the neighborhood. It was perfect weather outside, nice and balmy. On our way back I found a cool used book store, it was pretty ghetto and Angies allergies were kicking up because of the dust but they had thousands and thousands of books for pennies on the dollar, i was able to get 4 books for $5. Then we went back to the hotel room and watched Sex in the City and then finally fell asleep.

On the road with Ira in the yellow jersey.

I woke up at 5:45 AM and showered and got ready for my race, woke Angie up around 6:20 and then we ate a hot breakfast at the hotel. We were able to get on the road by 7am and after taking the wrong route and Angie helping me find the correct way, we made it to the race with not a lot of time to spare. This year was even worse than the prior year as far as bathrooms, they only had 2! i had to actually pee in someones driveway because there was no where else to go and a line down the block for the portables. I made it to the start and I really didn’t feel that great, but finally we started to go. It took me a bit to warm up but the laps seemed to go by fast. Up the hills it always hurt and I felt a lot more sluggish than I normally do when climbing, just because its a short and steep climb without being able to get properly adjusted. The race was action packed the entire time, with lots of attacks and stuff.

On the 3rd lap I was trying to get my water bottle from Angie and I dropped it, so i was quickly running out of water. As I came around for the fourth lap I found myself off the front of the pack with maybe 20 seconds lead, I just went with it without going too hard, but it gave me a head start up the climb and the best part is I was able to slow down and get my water bottle this time and as the pack swallowed me up a break started and I was easily able to hitch on. We rotated and got a small lead but to my suprise as efficient as we seemed to be we didn’t stay away even the whole lap, getting caught just before the final climb. On the climb I barely hung onto the leaders, but we did create a decent gap and was able to go with it. There was a lot of playing around in the lead up miles to the finish, and when it slowed down at one point I attacked and got a way for a bit, not too long but enough to put a little pressure on the pack, but more importantly show initiative and that I wanted it.

There was about 9 of us left at this point and still we were going to slow, I told the guys that we needed to pick it up or we would get caught again, so finally another guy attacked and the race finally started moving as we approached the finish. Somehow I ended up in last place coming into the final 200 meters but came around everyone, I missed first and second place but then nipped third by less than a wheel lenght by ‘throwing’ my bike. It was a great experience and gave me more points in the UCA as well as gave me the lead in the Overall State Champion points series. Only the Criterium remained.

State Criterium Championships

The Criterium was the big day for me, a chance to win the Overall State Champion title. I had made 26 points with a 4th place and a 3rd place in the State TT and Road Race. The only thing left was the crit, and I had to finish either in 10th or better place or stay within 9 places of Ira. It sounded like i was going to do pretty well, just knowing that I only had to beat 5 of the pre-signed up people. I tried not to self-talk bad about myself, saying that I am bad at crits or whatever.

This day was going to be a hot one, over 100 degrees, so I tried to drink a lot of water leading up to the race, and not eat too much. I felt like I got a good jump on things but as usual I was running behind and scrambling to get caught up. When I got down town and got my race number, I was already behind and my car was parked in an underground parking lot. As I went back to get ready, I realized that I had lost my number. I put it in my backpack but it must have fallen out on my way to my car. I frantically went back to search for it, and luckily I found it on the lawn of the Salt Palace, but now i was running even further behind. I was flustered trying to get my bike onto my trainer, my number pinned, and all my gear ready. In the end I only had about 10 minutes to warm up, but perhaps that was a good thing.

When we lined up to race, instead of the 17 riders that had signed up before hand, there were close to 30, which really freaked me out and made me wonder if I would even have a chance at getting enough points. Right before the race started, I doused myself with water to cool me off, I could hardly swallow it was so hot. The race started with a fast pace, just as expected. Immediately I fell off the back and just tried to hang in there, and on the third lap there was a wreck that somehow I managed to slip through. The laps started counting down and i could hear Angela, Alexa, Damian and a few others cheering for me.

As I bit the time and counted the two primes, I eventually started moving up in the pack and felt like I was getting my groove on. Everytime I went around and heard someone cheering for me, I would push myself to move up a little more. About 40 minutes into the race, i saw a gap of a few bike lengths and I attacked to bridge up to these two guys. Suddenly there was a split in the pack and I took the reigns and went for it. The next lap I could here Angie yell “Look, he’s winning!”, which gave me quite a bit of inspiration and made me push it even further. Ira was in the group along with Chad Vansolkema, Jason Goodfellow and a few others.

The final corner.

There were only a few laps left and then finally I could hear the last lap bell ring. I was pushing the pace but no one would help, I didn’t care though, I just wanted the points and I knew if we got away then I would secure the overall. As I came around the final corner, I pulled off and the sprint started, I just rode in on my own to take 7th place, which in the end was good for 4th since 3 people were disqualified. Apparently the 3 that I bridged up to were lapped and then thrown out at the end. I wish I would have known that, I would have pushed for a higher placing, and I should have just gone for it anyway since I had nothing to lose and was clear of the rest of the pack. Lesson learned, but it still worked in my favor to finish out the series with enough points for the overall. It was a great day!