This was my second go at the challenging course served up by the good people at TriCalifornia and it certainly lived up to expectations! I rank this course as one of my top three and look forward to returning to scenic Lake San Antonio State Park next year. Huge thanks to Terri Davis & his crew for putting on another stellar event. In particular I'd like to thank Dixie who organized the housing & logistics for the professionals as well as the voices of Wildflower - Sean, Nick & Julie for their energy & enthusiasm throughout the weekend. It was a great race weekend traveling with several friends from Boulder including Billy, Kirk, Shane (one of my athletes) and Christiana (one of Kirk's athletes). We shared a beautiful house with four other athletes on an adjacent lake and it was loads of fun! I met several great people throughout the weekend and enjoyed seeing so many of my friends from FCA-E and spending some time at their booth post the race. At our race briefing TriCal had some swag for give-aways and I earned some goodies for being the oldest male pro. In reality I wasn't as Scott Young (43) was racing but did not attend the meeting. It made for some good laughs back at the house. We were blessed with very good weather on race day and I felt ready to roll.
Swim (27:22) - With close to 60 pro men entered it made for a rather cramped swim start on the edge of the lake. I lined myself up to the left next to Kirk as we had our tradtional lunch on the line for fastest swim. Getting caught up in the masses I failed to have a solid start and soon found myself being gapped by the main chase pack along with Kirk, Rutger Beke, Trevor Wurtle and a couple of other athletes. The pace was very comfortable and at times I thought about making a move to swim around the leaders of our small group. Not seeing anyone in sight to whom I could bridge up to I made the decision to conserve some energy and sit in. Kirk & I swam side-by-side for the majority of the swim and as we neared the exit I picked it up just bit in hoped of at least earning a free lunch. I nipped Kirk out of the water and as we ran up the steep boat ramp to T1 he looked at me and said, "Nice swim Bradley." He ran a bit faster than I up the ramp as he remembered the timing mat for the swim was at the top not at the bottom where I was thinking it was placed. We both eneded up with the exact same swim split so I guess lunch is a wash on this one.
Bike (2:37) - My goal for the bike was to be patient over the first portion while maintaining a stead effort to avoid blowing out my legs. I felt very comfortable spinning up the steep one mile
Beech Hill climb and over the rollers leading out of the park. I dropped my chain on one of the first rollers inside the park and had to stop & dismount to get it working. I figure it cost me about :30-:45 and stayed calm with things. I had a good chuckle making the left turn onto Jolon Road with the two Cal Poly volunteers completely sleeping in their chairs holding signs with an arrow indicating our turn. Nice party the night before boys?! Focusing on my target power range I rode up on a small group of guys including Victor Plata. We rode together legally within the stagger rules for a good portion of the ride attracting the attention of a race official who stayed with us. Around the 35 mile mark one of the guys was told to stand down for an apparent penalty. I then took the lead and readied myself mentally for the upcoming hills. At the base of Nasty Grade Victor and I were together and exchanged a few words. He encouraged me to continue my effort and I felt really good climbing both Nasty Grade & Heart Rate Hill. I was able to ride away from Victor on the climbs and maintained a good work rate over the final five miles. Entering the park I caught Rutger Beke and near transition rode past Chris Stehula and Hector Llanos. My mind began to shift to the run as I entered transition.
Run (1:18) - Heading out on the run was fun with the spectators, energy and mountain bike athletes completing their run portion. I had to weave in, around & past a lot of these athletes as I worked to find my running legs. The first five miles were tough as my legs really began to cramp. I was soon in pure manage-the-damn-cramping-mode and had to let up on the gas to avoid a complete shuffle. I caught several athletes within the first few miles and even though I could not see any athletes up the trail I kept reminding myself to continue working the effort. Through the aid stations I was all about hydrating and taking in my Endurolytes. As mile six rolled around I finally started feeling good and was able to press the pace a bit. The Cal Poly volunteers and spectators along the course were great. I love this run with the isolation of the trails and boisterous crowds within the campgrounds. Entering the "pit" (1 mile out & back section of the run) I was able to take stock of my position and focused on catching whoever was within range. The final two miles were tough with the uphill out of the pit and the final steep downhill on Lynch Beach Road. Crossing the finish line I was grateful for another day of racing!
My finishing time of 4:25 placed me in the middle of the deep pro field at 23 out of 56. In talking with several guys who raced last year it appears it was a slower day on both the swim & bike for many. I felt much better with my effort than I did in Oceanside and look forward to my build for IMUSA.
Congrats to all those who made it to the line including my FCA-E teammates, the two brothers from the Biggest Loser and the TriCal training camp team of Reed & Eileen Swanson. Big props to my teammates Alexis Smith (8th overall), Ben Hoffman (8th overall) and Jeff Piland for their efforts and of course a big thanks to my sponsors (Team Sport Beans/NTTC, Champion Systems, Rudy Project, blueseventy, Mix1, Spira, Flexpower Sports Cream).
Thanks for reading!
Keep it smooth...