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De Vlees His Ronde RR - 04.18.10

posted Apr 19, 2010, 2:09 PM by Tyler Wertenbruch
This was a road race on the outskirts of Bakersfield along highway 58.  The Y-shaped out-and-back course started in the valley and climbed into the mountains to the first turnaround.  From there it descended a short way before hanging a hard right turn and climbed some more to the second turnaround.  Then it was a descent back to the start/finish.  I went into the race thinking that each lap would be about 1/3 flats, a good amount of rolling hills, and then one main climb.  In reality the flats seemed to make up only about 1/4 of the course, there weren't really any rollers, and the rest was just climbing and descending.  The route was awesome and a lot of fun to ride, with fair to excellent pavement.

I started the Cat 4 race with Brett Sullivan with at least 65 other riders (that's how many were pre-registered) .  We got to the start line late and were stuck at the back of the pack, but by the time we hit the main climb we were both moved up into the top 1/4 of the field, and I was sitting in at around 15th.  The climb was not overly steep so the group stayed on the gas pretty much the whole time.  Both of the turnarounds were tight and placed at the bottom of some decently steep descents, and so that's where the selections in the group were made.  I managed to stay with the lead group as they charged back up the hill after the first turnaround, but lost contact with them on the second.  By the time I hit the main descent for the first time I had been picked up by the first chase group.  We had about 12 or 13 guys and we worked the paceline down the hill and along the flats to try and catch the leaders.

As my chase group came into the start/finish for the turnaround to start our second lap we saw the lead group and were only a minute or less behind.  I'm not really sure what happened at that point, but the pacelining stopped for the most part and we never made contact.  I think that the guys in the group knew the amount of climbing that was still to come and just gave up hope.  I stayed with this chase group up to the first turnaround, where I lost contact on the climb again.  I wound up riding most of the rest of the way with one other rider who also got dropped from the chase group.  As we came to the second turnaround and the feedzone, I saw Dustin Ransom there with a bottle for me, which I definitely needed at that point. 

As myself and this other Cat 4 rider neared the valley floor, the Masters 35+ 1-4 group passed us...along with their broom wagon, which was an extended-cab duelly truck.  Being clearly out of contention for any placement in my race, I took advantage of the huge draft this truck provided.  With about 3k left to go and being somewhat "recovered," I decided to see if I could beat the Masters group.  The truck had moved to the middle of the road and I came up alongside, around the back of the Masters group and slowly up past them, staying out of their draft the whole way.  I stayed out in front of them for about a minute or so, with my leg muscles cramping on each pedal stroke, before they came up and caught me.  At that point, rather than risk DQing for joining another racing category, I let them pass me for good. 

Coming into the finish, there was no sign of the other Cat 4 rider I had been with, and I saw Brett on the sidelines at the finish cheering me home along with Dustin (Brett made the decision to pull out when he reached the feedzone on the second lap).  So I cruised back to my car to pick up some much-needed FLUID, and no sooner than after I got off my bike and leaned it against my car then both of my hamstrings cramped up and knocked me on my butt.  Now THAT is a good race.  I definitely wasn't fast enough, but I know I gave it everything I had.

~ Ben