2022 UCLA Race Weekend

2022 UCLA Race Weekend

Date: 2/19/2022 – 2/20/2022
Roster: Adam Siwiec, George Wehner, Gina Yuan, Jack Liu, Kelly Brennan, Sebastian Andrews, Sharon Newman
First race of the 2022 WCCC season!! Everyone is excited for the weekend — except for the 6-hr drive on Friday night. We did some crit and road race practice a couple days before the race. Everyone seemed ready for the upcoming racing season.

Saturday Road Race

UCLA RR course is a climber’s delight: a full 12.5 mile lap features a 2.6 mile climb at 6%, a 5.3 mile fast descend, and a 0.9 mile at 6% to the finish (or into second lap), with a total elevation gain of 1470 ft per lap .
Here’s the race report for each individual category people raced:

Women’s Collegiate B/C (combined field with Women Cat 4/5):
“With a 15 minute hill of 1500 ft, this course is tough. I am stoked that I had my first solo finish and was 3rd overall in this large field of 33 women.The pace started out steady up the hill. Gina and I worked our way to the front to hang with the pace setters. After going dowhill, the pace slowed. I attacked, and that got the pace moving again. The second time going up the hill, the pace was faster. I kept up with the first two ladies, but towards the very top (~100-200m away), I was overcome with the exhaustion from my attack and being pushed to close my limits. I was so close! As soon as I made it over the hill, my calves cramped. But I pushed hard, soloing all the way to the end (and almost catching the woman in front of me!).”

“Kelly getting bored then attacked.” — Gina

“Mine was something like this. Dying on the first climb to keep up with Kelly and the pace setters. Making it up over the hill and chilling down. No one wanting to pull on the flat part. Kelly getting bored, attacking, and creating a huge split (maybe 7 riders with her?). I’m caught in no man’s land between 2 groups with another rider. This rider does the work to bridge to the front group. But I know I can’t climb at that pace again so I get dropped and do a hard sustainable pace by myself. I get caught on the descent by a few riders. Can’t tell if it’s faster to pedal or try to be aero. I don’t do any work until the uphill finish, though maybe I should’ve and we could’ve caught more riders. I feel strong for the last short climb and even pass a rider from the front group”

Sharon clearly enjoyed her first RR!

Men’s Collegiate C/D (combined field with Cat 3/4/5):
“On the first false flat section, no one really wanted to do any work, and so the peloton remained bunched together across the entire lane. I tried moving up through the pack, but wasn’t able to make much progress, as there were virtually no safe lines up through the pack.
When the climb hit, the road didn’t look much steeper than before, but I suddenly found myself doing much more power than before. Since my positioning at the beginning was not very good, I found myself getting stuck behind riders in the process of being dropped. Most of the field was dropped during this first climb so I had to pass a lot of people. Fortunately, I was able to stay with the front group until the top of the climb, as was Sebastian, though I was certainly at my limit.
As the descent started, I made the mistake of letting a small gap open between me and the rider in front, which soon spiraled out of control and ended with me losing sight of the front group. This was not helped by the fact that I was spinning out my 50/11 at 40+ mph. Sebastian was with the group at the beginning of the descent as well but crashed early, so he couldn’t realistically make it back (though he did still finish the race). During the descent, I caught a UCSC rider who had also been dropped by the front group and we began to work together.
Towards the bottom of the descent, the two of us caught a Berkeley rider and organized into a chase very effectively. On the second false flat section, we caught back up to the front group. However, we had just used a lot of energy catching up, so when we reached the climb leading up to the finish, all three of us got dropped again. The UCSC rider and I continued working together to try to chase them back, but by the climb on lap 2, they were out of sight again.
The UCSC rider ended up gaining about 30 seconds on me during this climb, and afterwards I was basically solo TTing to the finish. I was almost caught by the Berkeley rider from before, but I was able to maintain a 20-second gap until the finish. With 500m to go, I saw I was gaining on another rider from our race who had been dropped, and managed to out-sprint him at the line. However he was in the Ds so this didn’t affect my C placement, which is what I think matters for the omnium.
I’m a little disappointed in my result, but overall it’s not too bad for the first race of the season. Had I known the Cs and Ds were being ranked separately, I would’ve probably worked a little harder to not lose the wheel on the descent, but I’m still not sure I could’ve held it. This was also a very difficult course – even in the draft I needed to work everywhere except the descent, and since I was losing time on the descent, that wasn’t exactly a rest either. I also had signed up for (and ended up competing in) the Cat 4 road race later that day, so I wanted to save some energy.”

Sebastian (right), George (middle), and Adam (left) getting ready the start. (The truth is George only got out of restroom 30 sec before the gunshot.)

Men’s Collegiate B (combined field with Cat 3):
“Absolutely brutal. One of the hardest race I’ve ever done.
On the 3rd time over the climb (second to last lap) the pace went crazy. I found myself dangling in the second group and with first group merely 5~10 second ahead — it’s just heartbroken that you can see them right there but the gap was not closing despite you’re at your absolute limit. Every inch of my body was screaming and I definitely overreached by attempting to bridge to the front group — I cramped terribly in both my quad and calf after the descend. I had to stop on the side of the road for a couple minutes to stretch before getting back on the bike (that was when Donald, who got 1st in collegiate B, passed me). I kept pushing at a pace my legs can manage and actually caught one or two riders on the final climb.

On the final flat part, I was riding with two riders from the same team. As it got closer to the finish line, they tried to do 2-on-1 attack to me. Though on my limit, I somehow managed to cover all their sneaky attacks. In the final 200 m, I sprinted with one of the guy but just didn’t have the legs. It was a really tough day for me (and for everyone for sure!) both mentally and physically, and I thought of giving up many times during the race. However, knowing that my teammates were there waiting and cheering for me at the finish line made me push beyond my limit, and I’m really glad that I did it and hold on to the 2nd place in collegiate B!”

Stanford’s Result:

Women’s Collegiate C: Kelly – 2nd (3rd overall), Gina – 3rd (7th overall), Sharon – 7th
Men’s Collegiate B: Jack – 2nd (10th overall)
Men’s Collegiate C: George – 9th (16th overall)
Men’s Collegiate D: Sebastian – 13th, Adam Siwiec – 18th

Kelly (left) and Gina (right) on the podium for collegiate C.
Jack (left) and his cyclocross rival Donald from SJSU (middle) on the podium for collegiate B.
Team photo! (Kudos to George, who was doing his second race of the day, thus not in this picture.)

After the race, some of us decided to do a “recovery ride” with 4000+ ft of climbing to go all the way to the top of Big Pines Hwy, where we got lunch at a skiing resort.

The view along Big Pines Hwy was gorgeous. Snow still covered the mountain tops.
Team dinner on Saturday night at a really nice local Italian restaurant!

Sunday Team Ride

We concluded that it won’t make sense logistically to do the crit on Sunday, which is 1-hr away in Victorville (the last rider won’t get back until ~9pm with a 7.5-hr drive). Therefore, we decided to do a team ride near Bakersfield, where Gina had planned a beautiful route featuring a LONG climb Lions Trial.

We practiced riding in double paceline on the flat.

“We decided against the Victorville crit as it would tack on 2 hours to a 6-hour drive back to campus, but we couldn’t let a beautiful, sunny Sunday go to waste. We drove out from Palmdale to Bakersfield, parked at a local post office and rolled away. We set out 2×2 pacelining, but broke up a bit when we got to the main climb. Kelly crushed the climb and bagged a QOM, the rest of us were not far behind. Most of the rest of the ride was a descent with some headwind, so resumed pacelining as a team, making great time. On the few “bumps”— short/slight climbs—we did some sprints. The team finished the ride strong with a final sprint with Jack crushing us all, of course! Sharon finished the whole loop 2 seconds ahead of Gina and claimed the QOM, while Kelly and Gina claimed numerous QOMs along the way! Not the day we expected, but conditions were prime and the route was beautiful. Most importantly, we know each other as a teammate much better!”

Beautiful view on top of the mountain.
Fast paceline on the descend!

That concluded our first WCCC race weekend. It was a wonderful experience for all of us, including those racing for the first time. That being said, anyone who’s eager to try out racing should come and celebrate the race weekend with us in the future races!

2017 Pescadero Race Report: M4

The Pescadero Coastal Classic was my first open race and, as such, I was both excited and nervous. My idea of “open category riders” was based on the guys who go off the front on the Morning Ride: deep rims, deeper quads, and hard as nails. The light trash-talk from the Pen Velo guys at the start line did nothing to ease my anxiety (and I was consequently pleased that none of them made the break).

The cat 4 race consisted of 1.7 laps around the course—twice up Stage road, twice up Haskens. I was expecting (rightly, as it turned out) two key moments: the first time up Haskens, to create a break, and the second time, to determine the winner from that break. Since everyone else seemed to have a similar idea, nothing much happened until the first time up Haskens apart form a crash right before my nose on the first Stage descent (the first guy to go down seemed in a bad way; he also crashed out Brad Lovegren, who went on to get third—kudos to him).

Bernardo (whose moral and tactical support before and during the race was invaluable) advised me to move to the front before the climb and to hang on to the top ten riders no matter what. I did just that and it was very painful, but as I crested Haskens with only two riders in sight behind me, I knew I’d made the break. I used the descent to recover, and expected to continue recovering while in the break – it was quite large, with twelve riders at its thinnest – but Eric, a rider from Cal whom I’d gotten to know over the collegiate season, had other plans. He organized us into a tight paceline and squeezed out a good ten to twenty extra watts out of the riders in the break, whose complacence would otherwise have allowed the main pack to catch them. At that point, I was almost struggling to hang on and dreading every pull I inevitably had to make, and my lower back was crucifying me for slamming my stem (or for skipping core sessions, I’m not sure).

As we reached the bottom of the first Stage climb, the commissar told us that we had a twenty second gap to the chase. The disheartenment was palpable and several riders eased their pace, ready to give up. Eric and I decided to keep a high pace up the climb and see how things would stand after that. To our relief, the gap had increased to thirty seconds at the top of the climb, and by the time we crested the second Stage bump, we had more than a minute on the chase.

From then on, things eased up. We had a tail wind and a lot of time, so we didn’t push ourselves as hard going up 84 as we had going down Pescadero. However, (I think due to improper hydration) I started to cramp up a few minutes after the turn onto 84. My calf muscles were twitching and rippling uncontrollably as I tried desperately to alternate my position on the bike, my cadence, my pedaling style, and everything else I could think of to stave off a pair of full-blown cramps. I found that the cramping would recede if I got out of the saddle, and for a golden, hopeful minute, I thought I had pushed them back. But as we approached the turn onto Pescadero, they returned with a vengeance and I was dropped. I caught back on at the feed zone, a mile or so before the final climb, but at that point, the mental battle was totally lost. I was barely able to stay with the pack on the downhill to Haskens, so I knew that I had no chance of a podium finish. And indeed, I soon had to watch Eric, Brad, and an AV rider fly up without being able to do anything about it. I could feel that if I tried to put out more than a certain amount of power, my legs would completely shut down, and so again, I could only watch as two more riders passed me. Another two were creeping up when I saw the 200m sign. I started dancing and was able to hold them at bay for an excruciating 9th place finish.

Too bad about the cramps, but we did get treated to the beautiful Pescadero descent just after finishing, which I appreciated much more this time around. I was still dropped by Sarah T on the way back to the car. This was a fun and beautiful race and I would highly recommend it for next year. Racing around on home turf feels great.