CiclaValley Races Again: Chuck Pontius Omnium

Here I am again. Racing just enough that maybe you’d think I knew what I was doing.

After getting a 10th in the UCLA Road Race, I was looking to improve upon those results at the Chuck Pontius Road Race out in Castaic. Unfortunately, I had a tough enough making it to this one.

My training was going super well until my wife returned from a conference two weeks ago and brought a cold with her. I guess I’m a family man, so I decided to fell sickness as well, taking me off the bike for four days. It was a setback, but I still had plenty of time to get back where I left off.

After getting a ride in on my bike, the next day my daughter got in the giving mood throwing us the worst sickness we’ve ever had as a family. This flu kept me in bed over that weekend only to see me get up often enough to make sure my back wouldn’t seize.


At least there was a nice sunrise

Early registration was closing on Wednesday night and while I still hadn’t been on the bike, I signed up hoping to be just upright in time for raceday.

Now, for everyday I’m sick, it typically takes another day to get back to where I was. In this case, I probably needed the race to be pushed back another week. That didn’t happen.

Oh yeah. I also had pink eye the week before the race, so when I did get a couple rides in, I could only go so hard before my glasses fogged up.

The Chuck Pontius course is a 27.5 mile out and back with a series of short climbs on the way out and one big climb on the way back. My goal was to take it super easy on the first half and see what I had left on the return. I also brought along my friend Doug for his first road race, who I talked into despite him using his backup bike.

From the start of the race, things were pretty cordial until the first major climb(about 3.5miles out). I was 3rd at the time, but I quickly slipped back as the pace picked up. Normally, I’d be in that group, but I could already tell my legs were suspect. I quickly fell to 16th, but I just wanted to keep a steady pace and come nowhere near redlining early.

I passed a couple riders towards the top of the climb, but I was pretty alone for awhile. I saw a pack of riders up ahead and looking down at my Garmin, it appeared like I would catch the next group soon. Good news: I did catch them. Bad news: Wrong race. It was the Women’s Cat 1/2.

Near the turnaround, I picked up a couple other riders and we ended up sticking together from that point on.

This was also my first out and back race, so I had an idea how far back we were. I knew we were too far behind the leading group to catch, but I thought maybe the second group would be possible with my descending skills and if they didn’t work together.

I took the lead for the large proportion of the rolling downhills. There were a lot of curves, so in one sense it was hard for someone else to pull through on the majority of the stretch, but when there were opportune times, only the guy from Big Orange would take a pull.

I promise, my criterium video will be much more entertaining…
At mile 21, we hit the biggest climb of the day, a 2.2 mile segment averaging 6.2% with a gain of 732 feet. Normally, this is the type of hill I pound because it’s perfect for my cadence and endurance level. If I was going to have a chance to finish in front of these two, it would have to be separating on this hill.

Right off the bat, I knew my legs didn’t have the same strength. Even when I tried picking it up a little bit, it felt like I was going the same pace. We actually striked up a three way conversation the entire climb. I learned the one rider was half my age(easily) and the Big Orange rider was closer to mine, but not that close.

We stuck together up until the final hill. I knew the only chance that I could beat these guys in a sprint was to get them to start too early and tire themselves out. Of course, I was still in the front, so when I shifted into gears they both took off and I became a spectator. I started this move too late, but it probably didn’t matter.DCIM100DRIFT

I feel as warped as this picture

I ended up finishing 14th out of 30 finishers, probably okay considering what a fat, worn down slob I still felt like, but races like these don’t come around too often.

Tomorrow, I will continue on Chuck Pontius style as I get into criterium portion of the omnium. Maybe I can figure out why I did it by the time I write that article…