As one may know, this sport requires luck. I hate saying it, but it is true to some extent. Luck alone won’t lead to a victory, there is still no substitute for the hard work needed. An untimely puncture, an unavoidable crash, missing your feed (the opportunity on the course to pick up an extra bottle), are all examples of bad luck. This is a list of small things, but a rubik’s cube is not finished unless all the colors match up. A positive mindset is mandatory, one must go into the race with the perfect scenario on repeat. It is the only way to approach it, we race to win after-all! One needs to remove all of the background noise of life and focus on why you jumped in your car to ride/race your bike in the first place. Otherwise, your race has now turned into your habitual ride that you do everyday of the week. Imagine your perfect day on the bike: the legs feel fantastic and you experience that no chain sensation. You’re following the right wheels to soft pedal up to the front of the peloton. You go the entire race without any mechanical issues. When everything comes together, equilibrium is achieved . That one perfect day cancels out a month of bad days. Trust me, your bad to good day ratio is skewed more to the bad and you are not alone. You don’t know what a good day is until you have had a few bad ones!
“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a body guard.” -Bruce Lee
There is a first for everything! This is the first time I have raced and visited Chico, California. Not the first time I have heard of the race. The infamous gravel of the Paskenta road race is what all the kids on the block are talking about. The drive from Las Vegas to Chico was about 12 to 13 hours (including bladder and food breaks).
Location of where we stayed, in downtown Chico was awesome. Good food within walking distance of where the team laid their heads. Drew, Tasha, and Pizmo(their Huskey) were by far the most laid back host house, but in a good way. Creating the most relaxed house to host our 5 man squad (Chris, Ian, John, Jose, and I). Both Drew and Tasha are avid cyclists who are participating in the event. Tasha was volunteering and Drew was racing in the category 4/5 race.
Stage 1 was on the Thunderhill Raceway! A slow leak on my rear tire left me out of the race. By the time I realized how low it was, it cost me the race and the neutral follow car had already blown past me. Rolling around on 20 PSI turns the tire into rubber mush, amusing to say the least on that race course! A small break of 6 riders including a few KHS riders, Rally, Jelly Belly, and Elbows Racing came in ahead of the field by about 30 seconds. With Gerkins from Elbows taking the win.
The Paskenta Road Race (stage 2) was difficult, yet rewarding. Just passed the feed zone on lap one, the short and punchy rollers caught a few riders off guard. Letting a small group of 15 riders roll off of the front. Teams included all of the pro teams and myself! I invested a couple of eggs in that basket, but just getting caught before the gravel section. The gravel itself was not too bad, hard packed due to the amount of rain in weeks before. A few potholes that might buck you off your bike if you were not attentive. Many riders flatted, including race leader Gerkins just entering the gravel section (10 km to the finish).
I had a solid ride during stage 3, good enough to nab me 24th. One of the top amateur racers, thrilled about that result! Felt good leaving the start and had around 400 watts in my head to get a solid result, unfortunately the legs were not there. Set the bar a little t0o high, but still gave it a solid crack! Stage 4 was a mixture of emotions. Excited for many reasons: crit racing, last stage, getting to go home, and recovery burrito. Bummed for many reasons: last stage, the drive home, and leaving Chico. Yes, I have some experience racing in crits. Navigating a tight course with 100 riders is hard and takes experience.When people yell “move up” when a Pro team has their full squad on the front averaging 30-35 mph, it’s not that easy. It takes patience. The ability to sit in, read the course and field is essential. Knowing that stretch of road/corner where the field chokes and slows down for a mere second is when you make the move. It’s not a one lap effort either, it might take 5 or even 15 laps to move up to the front. If you are not gaining spots, you’re losing spots. Bike handling is another must. Banging bars and taking the line that makes you pucker-up comes with the territory. Crashes are inevitable, they happen. Sometimes you just get by or sometimes you go head first into the pile of riders. That was the case during stage 4. Sometimes you win or sometimes you lose. You gotta work with the hand you are dealt with and run with it.