Stage 1 of Redlands: The Highlands circuit race consists of 20 laps on a 2.8-mile course with one large bump and a winding descent through a neighborhood filled with screaming school children. The bump is fairly steep, and is considered a climb by some and even a mountain by those of us less fit and/or larger riders. I finished a respectable 129th.
Usually I come into the season overtrained or at least very fit from a long winter of hard training and as many early season races as I can cram in. 2015 was the opposite of that and this is quite possibly the first year I’ve not been even an ounce over-worked or fatigued coming into Redlands. As discussed in plenty of earlier blog posts, my offseason did not go well. On top of that, I’ve been sick for the past two and a half weeks. I’ve got excuses seeping out my pores! So about that 129th…eh, not too shabby. Before the race I wasn’t confident I’d even be able to make the time cut.
My job for the stage was to slip into a move or help position the better climbers on the team (Chris, Josh, and Michael). At one point I considered going off the front (on the descent) but quickly came to the realization that if I was in a breakaway, instead of getting to rest on the flatter and more downhill sections, I’d have to continue pedaling. Fat chance of that. I was sag climbing and just barely hanging on as it was. This was lap three I believe. Only 17 to go. I opted to (try) and help position our climbers. Even doing that wasn’t quite feasible for me; by the time I would make my way back up to them after the technical neighborhood section, the climb would start again and my anchor was thrown overboard.
At some point I gave Chris and Michael bottles (that I got from Adelaide in the feed zone) and that was probably my most valuable contribution to the team. I got shit out the back with two laps to go when Hincapie hit the front. I rode it in with a medium sized group that also contained my teammate George. Jake and Ian suffered DIY mechanicals. I mean Di2. Flawless shifting, that Di2.
Our three climbers made the front selection and placed 22nd, 32nd, and 33rd, all in the winner (Sebastian Haedo’s) time. While our goal of having a high stage placing for Josh and Chris didn’t pan out, we can’t be too upset with three solid GC prospects to choose from, not to mention 6th on team classification out of 25 teams. #GSWho???
Afterwards I hung out with Maybellene and Adelaide up on the Sunset loop course and soaked in some amazing California sun amongst the palms. She’s staying with a woman who wasn’t able to host a team this year and has the whole house to herself. Last Friday after work we started the drive out here to camp and spend a few days at the beach. It’s been great to get away. I’ll elaborate more on the vacation aspect of this trip in a non race report post in a few days.
For the next four stages, I’m hoping that I can be of some good use to the guys who are riding well, and that a hard stage race will whip up some fitness and good vibes to spur me back to my normal training routine for the remainder of the season. In most cases a training race is an unimportant local parking lot crit. But if you’re unfit enough, even the biggest stage race of the year can be considered just a training race, or so I’m telling myself. 129th out of 195 is humbling.