Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Berzerkeley Hills

In 2006 I contemplated doing Berkeley Hills again after several years of essentially not racing. A few weeks before the race I asked Dan Smith, who wasn't yet my coach, at one of his High Intensity Training clinics how I should prepare for the race. He said I should focus on efforts similar to those in the race, preferably on the race course itself. That made sense, of course. Unfortunately I got sick immediately after so didn't do much preparation at all, and the race went poorly. On the first full lap I made it to over Mama Bear with the group, but got popped on Papa. Ugh. I hung in there and finished 29th out of 57 starters, finishing just ahead of Drew Landers of team DFL on the final climb (I later rode with Drew up Mt Tam and we sort of laughed about the race). There was one more rider behind us who finished: 26 riders dropped out. I could easily have been one of them: I was riding alone most of the race, off the back.

Off the front in 2008
From the 2008 race (Veronika Lenzi)

Last year, better prepared, I returned to race with the 3's. I found myself off the front just following the pace car. What the heck, I figured, if they'll let me go, I'll go! So off I went riding solo. I stayed away the first lap then much of the second. But on the Bears, they finally caught me. As in 2006, there were two finishers behind me: I ended up 47th. It was frustrating because I was strong enough to hang in there, but I'd squandered my resources on my solo adventure.

This year, it's not looking good. Good indicators for race readiness are the Spectrum Ride, the Valley Ride, the Tue Noon Ride, the Roaster's Ride, and the Alto Velo A-Ride. I've gotten dropped from two attempts at the Spectrum Ride. I've been dropped from one attempt at the Valley Ride. I've been dropped in my one attempt at the Tue Noon Ride (and my two attempts at the Thu Noon Ride, which isn't as hard). I've been dropped in one attempt at the Roaster's Ride. And I've not done any A Rides (since Caltrain moved its earliest Sunday morning train to 8:15am, I can't make that one without driving). In other words, there's no way I'm ready.

Berkeley Hills is a brutal race. None of the Bears are particularly tough, but at race-pace, the efforts quickly add up. You've got to be able to ride at your limit for several minutes, then recover to do it again. And again. An exercise in match burning. I've got maybe two matches in my book right now. Two if I'm doing well.

1 comment:

Mr. C said...

Sounds like Sunday would be a good training ride if nothing else. Maybe having zero expectations will help during the race.