Boulevard and Red Trolley have come and gone. Admittedly, I had spent a lot of time thinking about these races in the moments that I was not focused on lessons and teaching. The teaching has certainly picked up. The amount of focus and intensity needed to stay sharp in the classroom has increased since the semester's start. I am in full-blown "Mr. S" mode.
I was able to get the Friday night shift at the Boathouse covered by a helpful employee; an employee in need of the kind of cash that only a stressed out, frantic night serving tables could offer. There is something to be said about the restaurant business: addiction. It's very easy to see how one could settle into this business and, given a certain amount of thick skin, serve tables for a long time. If we're talking about how to make money in a short period of time, it's clearly the best way to go.
Rolling out to the Live Oak Springs Inn/2nd choice for the filming location of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a trip. Logan, Dan and myself were simply getting poured on. The Inn itself had eager racers inside, hiding from the rain and warming by a pretty cool fireplace set up alongside the diner portion of the lodge and lobby. Warm and comfortable, it was easy for me to sit down, dress, pin my number, and chat with other racers while we avoided what was waiting for us outside: pouring rain and possible snow. Overnight, the forecasters had predicted a snow level of 3500 feet, and we were currently around 4000 feet.
The snow never came. The race rolled out slowly, and after an early scare (a certain rider whom I shall not name managed to ride into a cone knocking it over in front of me), we were off into a wall of fog and rain.
Pops came along, following us in his Jeep Rubicon. It was pretty entertaining, to say the least, watching him fly by us, a blue wool beanie barely clinging to his head (he always drives with the window down). With the first 12 miles of this course being mostly downhill, there wasn't a whole lot to do. The aforementioned cone hitter and another rider went up the road. We didn't give too much thought to the move. I myself, unsure of my strength in the second 12 miles of climbing, was not about to chase down any break at all, and it was safe to say that the group of 13 as a whole were pretty confident in being able to catch 2 lone riders before our 44 miles were up.
I was able to climb well, but the final kick to the finish at the end of lap one was just a bit too much. I lost touch with the draft as we made the turn from Old Highway 80 to Live Oak Springs Road, and that was about it. I spent the first 3 miles of lap 2 chasing the group, well within sight, but unable to close the final 100 meters in the headwind. Logan dropped his chain before Tierra del Sol, the group attacked (not cool) while he dismounted, which was all it took for me to burn my final match. Logan caught on and managed a 3rd place finish. I was credited with a 10th, but with only 14 riders, it's not really saying much. Oh yea, the break was caught.
Red Trolley! Sunday Morning! A fresh start. I woke up in the morning actually hoping for rain. I figured the field would be larger, as Boulevard is a difficult and intimidating race, and I wanted it to pour buckets on all those people who thought they could avoid it on Saturday. The course was wet, but we never really encountered any sustained drizzle or rain after 7:45 a.m.
The hill on the "Top Gun" course is the only aspect
of the race I was worried about. My first races were on this course. I got shelled. Twice. In one day. It's safe to say that Red Trolley 2008 was a very embarrassing and harsh introduction to cycling. Needless to say, I had a few demons to take down.
The B's race was a huge cluster of confusion and fun. At some point in the race, early on, our wonder boy Baby Eric (I shall refer to him from here on out as ELove) made the break. At some point in the race, a little bit less earlier on, we had his older brother giving us splits as we sat on, happy that UCLA and UCSB were also represented in the break. At some point in the race, I sprinted for a prime lap, scored a few high fives with my friends in attendance and joked around
with Clod. And then UCLA lapped the field, jumped on front, and pulled us away from his two partners in the breakaway, Les from UCSB and our beloved ELove. So the race ended, I was scored with some prime points and a 10th place finish.
Later in the day I threw on the jersey of our 'older brother' club, Acqual al 2/SDBC and raced around in the 4's. The race was much faster (the course being completely dry at this point). I sat in, moved around, goofed off, and attempted to move up for the sprint, but couldn't move up close enough. Our race was cut short at 38 minutes, but all in all, it was a good day. I squeezed 75 minutes of racing b
efore 12 noon, watched Thurlow the Turbo crush the men's 45+, and managed to catch the Saints make history.