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Monday, April 1, 2013

Racing the 'Hell of the North': True Grit

Here in Norcal we have some pretty epic spring classics. My season began with the Bicycle Plus Winter Crit, which I used to get in the groove of racing again. Bicycle Plus Winter Crit was followed up in the next weekend by one of my favorite races, Coppertown Circuit race, of which I placed 4th in the W3's, and later on in the day, I raced the W1/2/3 (I totally blew up in that race, but it was a wonderful training day).
Bicycle Plus Winter Crit
 
A week later, I hit up another favorite of mine, the well known Snelling RR! The W3's was slow in the beginning, but boy, the power was really put out in the second half of the race! I was pretty happy with my tenth place, considering the amount of effort I spent bridging breaks, attacking, and counter attacking.
Snelling!
 
The two more recent crits I have raced is the first year Red Kite criterium, and good old Land Park criterium. With both, I raced in the W1/2/3, both were very fast, and both had large turnouts! The day after Land Park was Bariani road race, new course, yet the same old brutal wind! This race I had a very fun time since I raced with the W1/2/3... Although it was a race for third only ten minutes into the race, and although the average speed was low, there were still some very strong attacks, a few of which I had the honor to bridge up to. So I was able to do some work in the W1/2/3, where as last year I was holding on, so this is a big improvement.
Land Park Crit

After giving as brief of a description of my first few races as I could manage, I shall now transition to the main topic of this blog, which is about the most epic and grueling race I have completed yet, the 'Hell of the North', the ominous Copperopolis road race! Like most blogs, this one just popped in my head as I was riding along.
Copperopolis, Photo Credits: Alex Chiu

 It was after I swallowed a couple pieces of asphalt (which there was an excessive amount around) and I picked a piece out from in between my teeth, the name 'True Grit' came to mind. It came to mind not only because it is one of my favorite westerns, and not only because I was covered in grit, but also because of the determination shown by Mattie Ross. And for a little I could relate. Although I was not out to seek vengeance against a man who killed my father, I was feeling the determination.  Why? Well because I was dropped, and it was the second time I was dropped.
 
 I just could not find my climbing legs. The first time I dropped, I was able to chase back on to the leaders pretty quickly (same with everybody else who was dropped, the lead group was not making a point of keeping the pace up after the climb) but after the second time around they realized that they did not really want people to chase back on. So they were riding real hard, and the group that formed of which I was in was chasing real hard (most of us chased the first time after the climb, too). And so it was, that was the rest of the race, we caught a lady who dropped from the leaders, and another caught up to us. Our race basically was just split in half of those who could climb very well, and those who couldn't.
 

But, boy, did I kill myself out there. 3 laps on that course is not easy (each lap is 21 miles with about 1,500 feet of climbing, not to mention the roads are almost equivalent to cobbles)! One great thing about bike racing, is even when you are dropped or in a bad situation, if you continue to keep on keeping on and maintain a positive mind set, all you will do is become stronger because of it (and in some races, such as Copperopolis, you'll get legs covered in asphalt)!
My legs covered in grit, and my road rash from
last weeks cornering practice tumble
 
I now am going to focus on my climbing (I have to go searching for those legs, because I do not know where they went), along with time trialing. After this weekend of racing, and my whole past week of training, I am now really looking forward to the Chico stage race, which is coming up right around the corner. Last year was a blast, this year should be, too! People, you need to come up and check this race out!
 
 Hope to see you out there!

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