Saturday, January 5, 2008

Dunnigan Flats (Dunnigan Hills RR) (20070828)

August 18th brought the Dunnigan Hills Road Race, the 3rd event out of 8
in the California Cup Series

Now, I missed the first two events because I was in Colorado for a
wedding, but the wedding was great fun so it was worth it

That does mean I'm behind in the points though, and I've been training
my buns off, so I'm pretty excited to see how I stack up in this race.

The course is pretty much pancake flat, and should favor a sprinter. My
remaining goal for my category 3 racing tenure is to go for a breakaway
though, so I'm looking for a small group to get away near the end.

It's a really long race (90 miles!) and I had teammates so I planned to
basically sit in the pack, do no work, and then with between 10 miles to
go and 5 miles to go be very active trying for breakaways. If that
didn't work, I'd cool it and go for the sprint.

Everything looked like it was going according to plan at the start, but
around 15 miles in, I started to get a strange bouncy feeling...oh no,
could it be? yes, a flat tire.

Now, when professional cyclists get flat tires, you can see the
cyclist's team car zip up while they're on the side of the road, they
get a spare tire in around 10 seconds, then they get a huge shove to get
up to speed, and finally the draft all the cars following the pack until
they are back in the pack. No problem.

I am not a professional. We don't have team cars. We do have a "follow
vehicle" and I had put spare wheels into it, but as I pulled out of the
pack to get the wheel change, I noticed the follow vehicle was
waaaaaayyyy back on the road. Apparently someone else had just gotten a
flat and a wheel change before me, and the vehicle hadn't made it up yet.

2 minutes and 45 seconds later, I have my spare rear wheel in, but the
pack is nearly out of sight. The follow vehicle does a good job of
pacing me back towards them when disaster strikes! Another person got a
flat. The follow vehicle pulled over to help them, and now I'm well and
truly done. Nothing to draft off of to get back to the pack, and 70 solo
miles later I finished the race.

I had a lot of time to contemplate what I learned from this. The only
thing I could get out of it was that if you get a flat tire in a road
race and you can ride on it at all, you should ride on it and stay in
the pack while you look for the follow vehicle. If the vehicle isn't
there, you should keep riding on it until it comes back, or as long as
possible, as that time may be the difference between chasing on or not.
After that, if you can get the follow vehicle to stay with you and pace
you up at all, every minute they're pacing you is worth its weight in gold.

With 3 of the 8 races down, I've still got no CalCup points. Hopefully
I'll do better in the rest of the CalCup.

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