Monday, May 31, 2004

Falcon Gold Race Report

With the foul toxicity of all the smoke and bad excuses about not biking from Friday night's dogfest still fogging my normally coherent sensibilities, I headed out to Falcon Lake early Saturday morning for the inaugural Falcon Gold Race. It wasn't easy to leave in the midst of the great location debate, but it had to be done. The race consisted of three stages: a 14.5 km time trial, a 25 min. plus 3 lap criterium, and a 53 km road race. Things got kicked off with the time trial on South Drive--an out and back to the Falcon Trails Resort, on a windy and slightly undulating course. I felt alright, not great, but ended up winning the time trial by half a minute. But the euphoria of my first ever race win was short lived, as I lost all that and more in the afternoon criterium. The 30 minutes of racing around the small park in the town square were both faster and scarier than I had expected, but a good learning experience nonetheless. After a brief stint at the head of the pack, I got caught off guard at the halfway point and gave up the 15 second intermediate sprint bonus to the guy who finished 2nd in the time trial. It would have helped if I knew who he was, but I hadn't seen him at a race before and didn't really have the best sense of who the competition was. Not a great move on the tactical side of things. With about 10 minutes left, he and another guy got off the front again, and somehow I ended up a further 20 meters or so behind the chase group. Not really sure how that happened, but now I was stuck on my own having to chase back to the group. Another tactical fuckup in a quickly growing list. I did manage to bridge up after another 5 laps or so, but had to work so hard in the process that there was no hope of catching the two leaders. The revised plan was now to stay ahead of the 3rd place guy and to try and take the 30 second time bonus for 3rd place. This was briefly interrupted by a crash that I nearly got tangled up in. Two riders touched wheels and one of them went down right in front of me. Luckily I wasn't boxed in and was able to swerve around and avoid it, but a few of the others ended up with some nasty road rash and found themselves out of the race. But Mr. 3rd place was ahead of the crash and now had a small gap on me with only a few laps to go. Together with one of the Kids of Mud riders I pushed hard to bridge back up to him and we managed to do that with only one lap to go. Now we had the momentum, left Mr 3rd place in our wake, and fought a hotly contested sprint for third place. KoM guy went out first but I was closing in as we got to the line. Neither of us were sure who took it, but the officials decided it was him not me. We were 15 seconds behind the winner, the former 2nd place guy, and I lost another minute to him in time bonuses. The 30 second bonus for third would have limited the damage to a 30 second deficit, but as it was I ended up being bumped down to 2nd place by a full minute. Not sure how things would have turned out on Sunday for the road race, since I wasn't able to be there. So instead I'll try to repeat my time trial success and try not to repeat my mistakes in the criterium and hope things go better at the next stage race I'll be doing instead of the annual Bike Club weekend event. All in all it was a great day. The weather was perfect and I learned some valuable lessons. Too bad the FGBC-Tinker Creek contingent was so small, but there's always hope--Juan Eppstein and Jonny G both have fully functioning road bikes and would make solid additions to the sport classification. And now that Hal and Dave have acquired some new road wheels, things are looking up. If nothing else, anyone is welcome to come out and ring cow bells along with Miriam and the rest of my personal tifosi on the side of the road.

Until next time . . . ride yer bike!

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