Smoked at Race Around Lake Tahoe (RALT)
Ahhh . . . RALT. I love that it’s in my back-yard, the course is amazing (obviously), the police escort and not worrying about traffic is really cool, and the “open” format means I get to race with a ton of teammates regardless of age or category. There is also a kind of kooky “anything goes” element like burning man meets paris/roubaix or some other one-day cycling classic. Tandems. Time trial/aero set-ups. Pro looking kits next to dudes in ripped up t-shirts. I’m considering a full costume next year. Well, some might argue our kits already fit the bill, but I digress.
Last year we (Nate) won the race and set the race record, breaking 3 hours. Glory. This year, we got smoked. We still wanted to win and put guys on the podium, but decided that we wouldn’t try to break the record lest we tow some other guy to the W and a new record. Well, it wasn’t up to us. A tandem with aero helmets and another guy on a TT set-up drilled the pace through the South Lake flats, reconnected after getting dropped at Emerald Bay — and drilled it again before finally getting dropped coming out of Kings Beach. By then the die was cast, the record would fall and a large group of riders was left to contest who would actually win the race.
Unfortunately it wasn’t us. Jesse and Nate were the only ones to make the final 6-rider selection on the Sand Harbor climb. They were not, however, able to get on the podium (Nate 4th, Jesse 6th). Conrad and I finished in the next group a couple minutes back and got 7th (me) and 8th (Conrad). Matt was a few minutes adrift of that, and Ben unfortunately flatted halfway through the race ending his chances for a contribution.
Personally, I should have buried myself to make the final selection, and I didn’t . . . letting myself believe it would come together again on the descent and I’d use those saved matches. Convincing myself it was ok to not use that extra effort . . . terrible decision, lame racing and I paid for it with a meaningless result and inability to help the team do better than 4th (what if we had 3 of the final seven and could attack that group of isolated but superior sprinters?!)
There are a lot of positives I suppose. Four of the top ten. A bunch of us went under the old record (sub 3 hour not special anymore). But the nagging disappointment I have is that I feel like we could have done better. I’ve felt way better about way worse results — because I felt like it was all left on the course. But, as Jesse pointed out — what can make it (bike racing) frustrating is also what makes it fun. A puzzle. The strongest guy or team does not always win. The best racer does.
Thank god the post race 10am beer was cold, the scene was beautiful, I like bike racing, and I like my teammates and their families. Ok, it was a pretty cool morning — once you get past the part about the results.