Saturday, June 6, 2009

Joey's Sea Otter Race Report

Sea Otter Classic 2009
Joey Nygaard

Jr. 15-16 Circuit Race 13th place
For once the race started at 4:00 pm and my dad and I got to Laguna Seca a nice four hours early, leaving time to figure out the insane registering process, hang out around the booths and then get into the racing state of mind. It was not long before we were on the starting line and waiting to see just how fast this years 15-16 field would push the pace. But when the whistle blew it was not the sprint off the line I was expecting and as we slowly made our way up the easy part of the climb I began to wonder whether the race might not be too hard after all. But just when the harder part of the hill came, the attacks went flying and I found myself on the back of the pack, not the place I wanted to be entering the corkscrew, and I had to fight hard to regain my place in the middle of the pack.

I hung on for a few more laps until I was officially dropped. Luckily I was not alone, a rider from the AC team was also off the back. We fought hard to catch up but in the end we ended up fighting it out for the sprint, where he got the better of me and I was unable to come around him.

Cat. 4 Circuit Race
After the Jr. circuit race the day before I decided it would be good training to do the Cat. 4 race. So at 5:00 I made my way to the start line and got lined up with the other 4s. Unlike the Juniors, the Cat. 4s set an extremely fast pace both on the climb and down the descent. Up the climb i could handle, but when it came to the descent I found myself off the back and scrambling for wheels.

I hung on to a variety of different groups, getting ahead on the hill so I would have a head start on the descent and was not blown away. I was starting to feel really good on the hills but with two laps to go I, along with the group I was riding with, got pulled.

I had not expected that they would be pulling riders but I was not too down about it. By that time it was around 6 o'clock and getting very windy so my dad and I retired to the car and then to get a good night sleep for the early road race the next day.

Junior 15-16 Road Race 10th place

The morning of the road race came bright, early and hot. After warming up, I began to make my way over to the start line, where we had to sit for 15 minutes before starting. The whistle blew and we began to proceed along the four mile neutral promenade. As soon as the group hit the first major climb, Team Specialized set up a blistering pace and the group splintered. Stanley and I got off the back and we had to work hard on the descent to catch up.

Once we had caught up it was not long until we were back around to the climb again. Once again the group splintered and I found myself off the back. I found a rhythm and soon enough I was passing people left and right. I came up behind Stanley and as I was passing him, I slowed down a bit, just in case he had enough energy to stay on my wheel. When he did not, I kept up my pace. I was slowly catching the group, and would have but the climb ended and I was faced with a long windy descent. At this point there was only one rider between me and the group and I buried myself to catch him. Once I had caught him we started working together, trying to reel in the main field.

We worked very well together. He, being bigger than me, pulled me down the descents, and I, in return, pulled him up the climbs. We worked together like this for almost the rest of the race, until he bombed the last descent and I could do nothing to stay on his wheel. All I could do was tuck, pedal and hope he didn't get too big a gap. As I made the turn onto the final two-mile hill he had a pretty big gap but nothing I couldn't catch--I thought. Unfortunately the hill was not that steep at all for the first half mile and although I was doing the best I could, the terrain suited him better and I lost ground. But not for long, soon the hill kicked up in gradient and I began to catch up rapidly. I saw the "one K" to go sign, and then 500 meters. By the time I saw 250 meters I had reduced 3/4 of his gap and was closing. But despite all my efforts I was about 10 meters behind him at the final turn, not close enough to pass him, and I crossed the finish line in a satisfying 10th place.

Because of the extreme heat, we only stuck around to check on results, get an iced mocha or two, and watch my teammates on the podium! It was a good end to a long weekend and All Sport-Team Swift had rocked. Keep it up All Sport-Swifties!

--Joey Nygaard

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