It rarely rains in California, let alone in September. September and October are usually the best months – no fog, no tourists and tons of sun. It was not to be last weekend as a freak storm front rolled through Friday night and Saturday morning and dumped over an inch of rain on NorCal. Perfect timing for my first race of the season in Sacramento, actually Vacaville. I raced this course last year and they had a pretty good hill with a steep downhill. Turns out they decided to not have the hill in this year, which was fine by me. But now I wondered how the cream would rise to the top on this flat course. Well the rain separated the cream for us. Luckily I brought the EZ-UP tent. We stuffed three people under it for warm-ups. With the wind and rain it didn’t really matter where you were – you got wet. Ryan Rinn from Vive la Tarte and my teammate and CX Nation athlete Zac Stanley got cozy with me under the tent. I pre-rode one lap and that was good enough. Lower the tire pressure, it was going to be a mudfest.
The hole shot and totally clean
I went with the disc bike which was a good choice but probably not the best as you will see. I got the hole shot, but then preceded to get passed right away. being a one hour race I tried to pace myself and only followed this guy after two others went. So there were four of us in the initial 1/2 lap. Then the ‘gangbusters guy” died a fast death and I got caught behind him as he blew up. I tried to get around him, but he blocked me into a tree…not on purpose. But that was it for me. I lost contact with the top 2…I think. More on that later too. The rain kept coming down and down. I was surfing the mud, trying to stay in the saddle and using my hips ad much as possible. Tire pressure was key and was taking similar lines each lap. I tend to not vary lines unless I see another rider take a line that looks faster. The minute you deviate is usually the minute you go down.
Round and round in the mud it got messier and messier….and more fun! I didn’t see many people on the course. We were pretty spread out and I couldn’t really tell who was in my race, since there were three categories on course. I went down a couple times, but was up pretty quickly. That cost me some time. Second to last lap I come flying down the one fast section of the course and realize my brakes are a little soft. The bottom of the hill went into a turn and going straight meant you were pin a concrete ditch. Not a good option. Bell lap I came around again and went pretty slow but I had no brakes, so acting “on the fly” I went off course (there was no tape so legal…I guess) and up a hill. The hill scrubbed my speed and I was able to jump off my bike as I started downhill again. I jumped back on in the turn and continued. I could have been hurt pretty good there, but made it through unscathed.
Splish, Splash Photo by Tim Westmore
End of race, but not end of of a little controversy. So Sacramento has a chip system which they put on your helmet. Well they don’t really work in the rain. Mine I guess fell off on lap 2. So they only had me doing 2 laps and I was in last. We also have numbers so I had to wait till they figured it out. I remember getting past the guy who got #2, but oh well. It was a blast and I was honored to get on the podium. Great start to the season! Time to get some new brake pads.
The podium – Rapha umbrella in view