all photos by Indigo, aka the B
Saturday was 2009 "Race Around the Lake", or for me just a continuation of Kenny Annihilation Training Plan. 72 miles of open category (from the un-licensed like myself to Cat 1/2's) road racing around Lake Tahoe with some strong riders from Reno, Carson, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, the Bay area, Lake Tahoe basin and elsewhere in the western US. the over 200 riders entered, a few more who poached, made for a large roll out at the 7am start.
for a little background: the former record was set at 2:59:08, just a tick under 3hrs for the 72.something mile, hilly course around Lake Tahoe. the boys out of Truckee took the honors last year. this year some of the south shore misfits banded together and trained when we could to figure out how to best work with each other. the crew included myself the youngster, pete the smart-mouth originally from NH, chris the strongman Cat 2 racer, macho man jim, stephen the former pro (no lie, he rode for Telecom for a year and a half and is still a top triathlete) and Dan & Reve on the world's fastest tandem. the tandem raced last year and couldn't break the 3hr mark so this year was time for redemption.
the start through south lake was chilly and sketchy. being an open cat race, there were definitely some folks who wanted to run up front who had no business being up there. staying upright and up front was the main goal in trying to reach the climbing that lay ahead. emerald bay brought the first and steepest climbing of the day, which is where the selection was made. i held back the urge to shoot off the front with strongest racers. instead i stayed with the tandem and offered a hand on the back to help push the boys up the steepest sections. i knew they would put down a blistering pace to catch the pack on the other side and i could draft them. and by not going with the leaders i could save myself from going into the 'red' too early.
lora and stacy practicing for water resupplies.
looking good ladies
lead pack up the last emerald bay steep
the descent was so fast that i got shot off the back and left out to dry in no mans land. the following miles were hell - up some rollers and false flats - to catch the leaders. so much for not going into the red too early on. but i did catch them, thankfully. things cooled off after that and the lead group of 25-30 riders briskly rolled along for miles and miles taking turns up front with a few folks pushing the pace from time to time. i was freaking out finding myself in unfamiliar territory (the front of a road race), and laughing to myself taking a pull up front around 30mph. crazy.
we knew the shit would hit the fan with about 17 miles to go as we climbed Spooner Summit pass. what we didn't know was that jim would hit the pavement before we got to that point. about 2/3's in jim overlaped the tandem's rear tire, over corrected and went down hard. it all happened so fast, and directly in front of me. somehow no one else went down and i saw jim at the end and he seemed beat up but somewhat ok.
just as the last climb up the pass started the pace picked up a notch - and just at that moment i dropped my chain. no shit. i tried to shift up and catch it, no luck. i had to get off and get it back on. fuck. trying not to panic i jumped back on an pinned it to catch the tail of the group that had dwindled to 20-25 riders. i couldn't catch the front breakaway and ended up working with my buddy dave (rides for a team out of Santa Rosa) to the top of the 8 mile climb. as luck would have it the tandem wasn't short behind cresting the top with chris in tow. catching on with them for the descent pulled us past a handful of others that were shelled.
just a few rollers left and the sprint to the finish. dan and reve worked flawlessly on the tandem - followed by chris, myself and micah (younger Cat 2 out of carson valley). the lead out to the finish was insanely fast. then chris broke for the sprint, he was able to hold off micah and i. i'm not sure who took it between to the two of us, too close to call.
i do know that we crossed the line at 2:58:17 - almost a minute below last year's record! - i was in 16th-17th place out of 200+. holy shit. still we were 2 minutes behind the winning group that broke away, but i had beat last years record which really was my goal. so stoked.
big thanks to the B for photos and support. and thanks to the other ladies - lora, steak, jana, kim, jan, etc - for help and support as well.
*not sure who won because the timing and organization at the finish was horrible. i can't believe a race like this, with money on the line, would be left to some kid with a clipboard who was asking people for their numbers and where they finished. fine for a small local thursday night race but for this, you've got to be kidding me. i was pissed that i even payed the very steep entry fee.