Wente Road Race, 35+ Cat 4

wente2015Wente Road Race
Field: 35+4
Teammates: None
Field Size: 37
Result: 7th

 This is my 4th time doing Wente, so I have a good idea how the race might unfold. Basically, ride really fast up Carroll and repeat, but faster each time. My best finish so far is 17th.

 My confidence is pretty good leading up to the race. My climbing is coming back after struggling with a chest cold. Still, not top form though. On Monday’s Lab ride, I have no energy and am overheating on the Patterson Pass. Doesn’t make sense, it is cold out. By Wednesday, my family thinks they are going to throw up. I take Friday and Saturday off and sleep instead, not my normal race prep. On Sunday, I am Debbie Downer.  Why did I sign up to this stupid race (actually it’s my favorite)? I’m going to get dropped…

This year was a little different. Four teams signed up with three to five riders, including the Revs team who have been tough all year. My plan was to do as little work as possible to keep as much in the tank for the final climb. Let the teams do the work. I see Dan after his race and hear how his race played out. I’m guess I’m ready. Bike is ready after fixing shuddering brakes and loose wheel bearings.

The first climb is slower than usual, even with the tailwind. On descent, a rider makes a sudden move to the right almost taking out the rider ahead of me.  We’re off the back, but not too far back, maybe a few bike lengths. I don’t panic. We catch back up before the descent to Patterson Pass.

The second time up Carroll still doesn’t feel too fast, but we do lose a few riders.

The third time the up Carroll is fast. I’m losing focus and patience with my Garmin. I forget to check my speed sensor battery, it’s dead. Beep Beep Beep Auto Pause, Beep Beep Auto Resume,… all the way up. I think my Garmin is mocking me. “Ha ha, you’re so slow”.

A three man break forms with Rev guys. Gaps open up all over the place. I count around twenty left. The chase is on (including a PR from Carroll to Flynn). I get spit out the back on the Flynn power climb. On the descent, I can hardly see with sweat burning my eyes and scratchy from pollen or dust. The wind catches my aero rims and blows me all over the place. I catch a few guys at the sweeper. I’m barely hanging on and can’t pull through. We’re too far back. I’m thinking it’s over.

Maybe we can reel them in by the turn to Patterson. No. I hop from rider to rider. The last guy gets us close. I take over and we catch up on before the turn to Cross. One of the guys in the break gets a flat near Tesla. At the top of Greenville the moto says they have a 30 sec gap. We fly down Greenville and catch them just before the freeway.

A Cushman friend, Winston Asprec, makes a move into the wind, but I’m blocked and can’t react in time. I had been following him most of the day since he did well the year before. After the turn, there is another break attempt. This is crazy, the pace usually slows because everyone wants to store up for the finish.  We are flying up Altamont, single file. My legs are burning. We pass a women’s group, then the CAT 5s into the final turn. The front three take off. Mass chaos. The rest of us get stuck by loose riders. Everyone left seems to be spent. I give one last push and pass a few riders fast enough that they can’t latch on. I can’t tell who is who anymore. I see Cushman following a huge guy who is slowing down. I rev it up. Cushman latches on and waits until the last 200 to sprint. I can’t keep up with him and there isn’t enough road left to catch anyone else. After finishing, he says nice job we’re in the top ten. I don’t believe him until I see the results.

This experience reminds me not to give up and stay positive. Even though my pure climbing was a little off this year, the last stretch of the race played into my strength. I had been doing a lot of tempo rides this year which has helped with endurance and active recovery. This is the first year I actually had legs at the finish. I was even able to go up and down my stairs with ease that evening. I’m glad I stuck it out. And I got an upgrade point.

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