Monday, September 15, 2014

Race Report: Boulder Cup

By:  Andy Lueck
Recon was a bit of an issue at this race, the officials weren’t changing the red flag to green at all.  Luckily I got in 4 laps after my volunteer course work the day before, one being at race pace (or at least damn close to it).  I finally got one lap and a little extra in at the tail end of the 45+/55+ open race.  After hearing Kirk gripe about trainers being soul sucking devices (I had pictures of zombies with trainers for legs) I decided to do my leg openers on the road, which proved to be as if not more beneficial.
Ok so no one really cares about that crap so let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
I was happy to get the 4th call up which got me my favorite spot in the start grid – one from the edge.  “One minute until start, gentlemen.”  Reset the Garmin, clipped in with the right foot, dug in with the left like I was stealing 2nd, and took a deep breath.  Looked down and saw my heart rate was in the mid 120s, I must be slightly excited for this race.  I had marked this as an A race for the season and had to do some last minute re-arranging in the training schedule to accommodate the one month earlier race date.  Using science, and the fabulous Training Peaks software, I established a pretty good schedule with a mid-season peak for this race.  The previous 2 weeks had gone according to plan and I was confident in my form. 
Bang, we are off.  Oops not me, missed my pedal; that never happens.  Well a quick bobble, wobble, and recovery.  I’m sitting in 7th.   Deep breath, round the corner, up Jail Break.  Two spots quickly picked off and a check through the arm: a gap has started.  Coming around the first corner, second corner, into the sand; I need to make some passes cause there goes first and second.  I make my way into 4th by the time we first roll across the start line and I’m on 3rd places wheel not to long after that.  Now we are back on the front side and the front 2 have about 15 seconds on us.  I pass on the side hill and promptly clip a pedal on the next 180, back to 4th I go right back on 3rd place’s wheel.  Now the next couple laps are a bit of a blurring of details.  What I do know is I got back into 3rd and got a healthy gap on those behind me which kept increasing.  I decided to back off about 5% and just keep rolling smooth.  Saw Kirk at some point with wheels and tires all a mess headed towards the pits.  Jon was being awesome in the pits and standing with my pit bike.  Might I add that Jon was never asked to do this and just takes it upon himself, and both races so far, after he has fully annihilated himself in his race.  Jon, you are an awesome teammate and thanks for being so selfless.
3 laps to go and it appears that 2nd place has come unhinged from 1st; meanwhile 1st place is nowhere to be seen and the lap clock tells me he has almost a minute on me.  I give up hopes of bridging that gap barring some misfortune on his part and focus on reeling in 2nd.  I race my own race, keeping it smooth, kicking on the short grunts, power out of corners, and use the long stretches as recovery.  Jon reports 2nd has only five seconds on me; don’t panic Andy, keeping it smooth, ride your race.
Right hander into the finishing straight with 2 to go and there is 2nd place only 50 ft in front of me.  I kick just hard enough to get on his wheel and hunker in.  I stick like glue through the pits and pavement, not exactly sure when I’ll pass him.  I decide to stay on up Jail Break as he is providing me some nice relief.  I look down halfway up the hill and notice I’m 6 beats lower while on his wheel and not really in the pain cave anymore, finally I’m below LT.  I stay on and round the right handed sweeper, he touches the brakes and stays wide; I stay off them and go inside on the gas and I’m off.  I hit the sand and look over and I have opened the gap.  Stay smooth, don’t get excited.  Really kick it up the next uphill grunt and the gap is established, I back off only slightly to about 90%.  Coming through the finish I hear the bell, that feels good, and I look up to see 1:24 on the lap clock – no way am I catching 1st.  I stay smooth and dig a little harder out of every corner and up every hill on the last lap – leaving it all on the course and just in case 1st bobbles.  Up the stairs the final time and LG lets me know I have 2nd locked up, I finally smile.  Coming through the finish I am all smiles, I take one more look up the hill and allow myself to sit up – 2nd is mine.
Even with a missed pedal at the start and a clipped pedal in one of the corners 1st was not happening today.  My peak was there but the winner was riding at a different level.  I am completely elated with my finish and am looking forward to a little re-grouping these next couple of weeks, I need to figure out the rest of the season with having to travel for work now.  States in December and Nationals in January are the next peaks on the horizon; between now and then I’ll continue to race and appears I might get upgraded as I now sit with 17 points, 3 points shy of a mandatory upgrade.

I’d like to thank everyone that continues cheer me on – I hear you even though I can’t acknowledge you during the race.  Jon: thank you again for the unnecessary but completely welcomed and appreciated job in the pits.  The water hand-ups were better than any beer I’ve ever had, I think my exact words on the first one were, “Oh f*** yeah.”

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