A Race of Truth
While some teammates have already been racing this year, my 2016 season just got off to an exciting start at Non Dot Adventures first race of the season, the Whiting Ranch Ultimate Time Trial on March 19th. This is the first of four races they conduct in the Orange County Parks. Rather than a mass start of a typical cross-country race, riders are released once every 30 seconds to race against the clock. Many call a time trial “the race of truth” because there is no hiding in a pack, it’s just you and the clock. And your burning legs.
On race morning, we were greeted by chilly, overcast conditions with many racers wondering how to dress or even when to shed their jackets prior to the start. The cool air and clouds would soon be appreciated, however, once the riders started up the infamous Dreaded Hill, a nearly one-mile beast with grades averaging 14% and portions up to 26%.
Even though a time trial not a mass start with folks vying for the hole shot, there is still a lot of anxiety going through racers’ heads. Andy Lightle of Non Dot realizes this and tries to joke with everyone as they are waiting for their countdown to start. Soon it would be my turn to go.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s you against the clock but everyone racing is watching the distance to the rider who left 30 seconds before as well as if the rider behind is catching up. Both are indicators if you’re speeding up or slowing down. When I took off, the rider ahead of me had gone around a bend and was nowhere in sight. I just pedaled as fast as I could, fighting off negative thoughts. When I reached the bottom of Dreaded Hill, I was elated to see that I’d caught up to him. He was just reaching the top of the first steep pitch. As I slowly gained on him, I was heckled by the Red Monkey crew at a switchback turn. This spurred me to upshift two gears harder and stand out of the saddle. Their heckling turned to cheering. I was pumped!
Further up the climb, I was able to pass both of the racers who had left 30 and 60 seconds ahead of me. I was making good time. The 30 second fellow, Leigh Heyer, responded well and passed me back but I was able to stay with him to the second downhill portion. This is when I flubbed.
With heart rate soaring and glasses fogged, I went off the trail into a bush and lost Leigh. I scrambled to get going. I rode as fast as I could, hoping that he wouldn’t be able to make up enough time on me. The anxiety of how I finished was alleviated when I saw early results posted—I was able to hold onto Second Place by 11 seconds!
I’m very excited about the 2016 OC Classic Race Series and look forward to the next one at Aliso and Wood Canyon on April 23rd. I’d like to thank my Lord, who kept me safe, and my sponsor, The Path Bike Shop, for all their support. See you on the trail!