Monday, May 19, 2008

Modesto Race Report!

MODESTO Race Report - 5/17 & 5/18

Because we too felt the need to race in ridiculously hot weather, Ken and I headed up to Modesto early Saturday morning for the Modesto Crit that day and for the Modesto Road Race the next morning. I followed Ken and his girlfriend Brooke in my car since we couldn’t all fit in either Ken’s truck or my car. We made good time getting to Paso Robles, and then stopped to pick up some breakfast of champions at McDonalds, the ideal place for all of your pre-race nutritional needs.

Soon after, as we’re driving, I see Ken’s driver’s side door crack open and what’s left of a jumbo-sized cup of iced coffee is poured out onto the ground. A short while later the door cracks open again and another beverage gets poured out. I’m thinking that Ken and Brooke did not much care for their McDonalds beverages. A short while later the door cracks open again and another beverage gets poured out.

At this point I start to wonder just how many drinks they had gotten from McDonalds. And then it dawns on me that these aren’t beverages at all. After a quick cell phone call to Ken I get confirmation that Ken’s truck had been converted into mobile porta-a-potty. So you can imagine my irritation because I had to pee quite bad by this point and here’s Ken voiding his bladder all over the central valley with the help of his girlfriend to steer the truck. It was clearly an unfair advantage that he seized on, and I viewed it as a personal attack on my own right to pee at some point during the almost 4-hour stretch from Paso to Modesto. But Ken was kind enough to stop in Fresno with me, and for that I’m appreciative.

We arrived in plenty of time for the crit in Modesto to get “warmed up”, which is a funny term when it’s over 100 degrees out. The course was fast and flat and wound through downtown Modesto with two 90-degree rights, then a left, then 3 more rights. It was actually a fun course with the only notable detraction being all of the traffic dots on the road. Guys started attacking from the gun, and soon into the race you could just feel the heat beating down on you. Ken and I both felt light-headed once or twice during the race. None of the attacks stayed away. Ken did a nice job holding position toward the front and I was in conservation mode until moving up toward the front with about 5 laps to go. The usual swarming happened on the final lap and I couldn’t quite hold my position in the front group of riders.

As we sprinted toward the finish line Ken was 3 riders ahead of me, and we finished in 12th and 15th. Not a great result, but glad to have survived it. All I could do right after the race was just sit in the car with the A/C on for about 5 minutes. By then my heart rate had come down to below 120.

We had a delightful time in Salida (town just north of Modesto) on Satuday night where our hotel was. Dinner at Tahoe Joe’s was good (packed with lots of Salida locals), though Ken said that his salmon had an unpleasant plastic flavor. I’m not sure how Ken knows what plastic tastes like, but I took his word for it and figure that if we ever go to Tahoe Joe’s again I’ll avoid ordering the salmon.

After a good night’s rest and some time at the hotel’s complimentary breakfast (complete with waffle iron and waffle batter which we partook of), we headed out to the road race.

Starting the race on Sunday morning before the heat had arrived was such a relief. The road race was a 54-mile course comprised of 6, 9-mile laps. The course was, in a word, flat. I think the grade jumped to 1 degree one time as we went over a creek bed. So this is what it feels like to race a crit for over 2 hours.

Lots of attacks, but nothing stayed away. It was all pointing to a field sprint at the end. Ken held great position during the race, doing very little work but staying in the top 10 riders. With under 2k to go I was in 3rd or 4th wheel and Ken was on my wheel.

As guys pulled off I realized I was going to get to the front too soon and I knew Ken was pretty much right behind me. So I drove it as hard as I could for as long as I could and then came the swarm of guys. With about 500 meters to go Ken gets bumped off of the road into the gravel section on the shoulder but manages to stay upright and keep in the sprint.

With 200 meters to go he was in 4th and accelerated past a couple guys to finish in 2nd place….he missed first by half a wheel. He probably would have won if not for going into the gravel. But it was an amazing save by him and a great recovery. For Ken’s hard fought 2nd place, he won a t-shirt and 5 crumpled-up one dollar bills that the local country-yocal organizer fished out of the depths of his overalls that probably hadn’t been washed in weeks (if ever). Way to go, Ken. You might want to send your cash prize through the washing machine with some Lysol. (As for me I finished back a ways.)

After getting cleaned up at the hotel and getting a bite to eat at Burger King (the ideal place for all of your post-race nutritional needs), we headed home. Evidently the mobile porta-a-potty was closed on the way home, so thankfully we were all ready to stop at Starbucks in Kettlemen City. As always, race weekends are a blast. Looking
forward to the next adventure.


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