NorCal Race #1: Fort Ord

Race Report by Max McFadden

I got to the venue on Friday in time to do 1.5 laps of pre-ride, but I wasn’t really stressed about it since it’s Fort Ord (and pretty much the same course as last year). I ate a late dinner with my Oakland Composite Team, showered, rolled out my legs, and got in bed a bit before 10. I had a mediocre sleep and got up at 7. For Breakfast #1 I had a couple of rice cakes with almond butter and banana on top, then another banana with almond butter. I did some heckling with Karp and Cam in the morning and then I headed back to the team tent to get breakfast #2. I found all of my old riding buddies who’re at UCSC near the tent and we all exchanged greetings.

For breakfast #2 I ate a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana in it and a couple spoon fulls of almond butter. At around 10:40 I started moving around on my bike getting ready to warm-up. I ate half of a bagel with cream cheese and got on my way with Hunter. First we rode some cutty trails behind the race course, and then got to actually warming up with a few 4 minute sub-threshold efforts on the paved hill down the road. I did some sprints and felt ready to go.

I was 1st call-up which was sick, but all good things must come to an end. Spoiler Alert. My race plan was to get the hole-shot at the start, and then win. I got the hole shot at the start, no problem. I powered up the first climb and led the descent, then started doing some serious chilling when we got to the flat section after the descent. We were all soft pedaling and I was making conversation for a little while, which I was okay with since nobody seemed like they wanted to attack anyway. I cruised pretty easily up the first climb following the descent, still dilly-dallying pretty hard. Then Nate Davis came around me like a bullet and put in a big attack. After about 1 minute it was me, Nate, and Saldaña off the front with a little gap. It might’ve been nice if we made the move stick but unfortunately for that idea, neither me or Saldaña were feeling like pulling so we soft-pedaled away and got caught by everybody pretty quickly. We were in a pretty fat group of 8 or so for most of the race, I think thinning out to 6-ish by the last lap.

I sat in the top 2 for most of the race, and didn’t really go anywhere further back than 3rd for the whole thing. Nobody was really pulling at all, except for some random sprinty attacks on short steep climbs whenever someone was feeling like a hero. Anyway, going into the second half of the last lap I knew that positioning was crucial, especially in the last half mile or so of the race. There weren’t any good places to pass once you crossed the road and there wasn’t much room for a sprint finished so I figured whoever was ahead at that point would most likely win. I sprinted ahead in what I thought was the last good place to pass, and got myself into 1st. My legs were pretty cooked at this point (not exactly sure why), and it turns out I misjudged the course, because a few moments later Saldaña came flying around me into 1st. I was still right on him and I did all I could to try to get around him before that final steep hill but he would sprint every time I did and he just had more left in the tank than I did. My legs sorta quit halfway up the last climb and Saldaña made a little gap that would be tough to close in the short distance to the finish. Nobody could get around me but I wasn’t really focused on getting 2nd at that point, I was just frustrated that Saldaña got away from me. This ended up being not so productive, and in frustration I lost focus going into the finish and got sprinted around by Cam to put me in 3rd at the line. I was just glad it was my buddy Cam that beat me and not somebody else!

I was not very happy at the end of this race so I rode off and took some time to ride alone to take a moment and step back a little bit. This helped my mood a lot, although I am sorry to have missed the team circle. I know that 3rd varsity is a good result so I hope that I didn’t come off as ungrateful, it just wasn’t the result I was aiming for.

What went well: didn’t have any major bike or nutritional issues, raced smart for most of it
What to improve: Put in some more training