Saturday, March 17, 2012

San Dimas Stage Race (SDSR) 2012, Stage 2: Wet and Wild...

As we honor all things Irish on this St. Patrick's Day, so too did the weather play its part. The cool, but dry, conditions of yesterday's stage 1 time trail gave way to wet and gusty for the stage 2 road race. Those conditions made an already challenging course even more so. The races quickly fragmented, and with three categories on the course at a time, there looked to be a lot of merging going on amongst small group of riders who had fallen out of contention. Racers, from whichever category bonded by their mutual suffering, pushed on through wind-whipped flurries as best they could. Racers at the front meanwhile, challenged the storm gods, pressed their luck to the limit, and pushed the advantage they had gained through their tenacity.

I always disliked having one of the earlier start times in a weekend race. Honestly though, I think those who did today, were thankful for it. I would have been. No matter the outcome, you get the job done, and can go home and warm up, start the long process of drying out, relax a little. Those who started later had to look out their windows at the pouring rain, the trees whipping around, and attempt to steel themselves for the inevitable. Good times. The spray off the wheel in front of you thrown into your mouth. Rivulets of water running off the brim of your cycling cap. What to do with glasses which quickly become an annoyance, preventing you from seeing the way ahead. The cacophonous flapping of windbreakers and rain jackets all around. Water pooling in your shoes. Water soaking in through your skin, transformed into icy rivulets by the cold fingers of wind, to which a thin layer of lycra offers no comfort. Shivering, teeth clacking, nerves on edge at every turn of the road. Racing your bike, even on a day such as this; don't you love it. The challenge, the accomplishment to merely finish. To be able to think of doing it all again tomorrow.

The first categories to get underway on the rolling course among the hills in and around Bonelli Park were the Cat 5, Masters 45+, Masters 55+ and Juniors. The Cat 5s rode five laps of the seven mile loop, both Masters groups rode six laps, while the Juniors got to race for seven laps. Slideshow of photos here.

Wayne Stetina, wearing the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey

Juniors peloton heading uphill after crossing the dam. The weather played havoc with photographers too - fighting my umbrella, to keep it from flying away while trying to take a photo - not ideal.

These two Junior racers flew into the s-turn here - maybe
a little too much speed for one of them:

In the second grouping of the day, the women pro/cat 1 race rode for eight circuits of the course, enough time for things to get very spread out. I decided to take a walk across the dam from where I spent most of the day taking photos. That was interesting, but a mistake. Exposed like that, the winds were really howling and the rain chose that time to come down in sheets. My umbrella finally gave up the fight when a particularly nasty gust turned it inside out. I beat a retreat to the somewhat sheltered spot at the intersection of Puddingstone and Cannon. The riders, of course, didn't have that option available and had to battle on as best they could. Slideshow of more photos from the women's race here.

Jenny Rios of SC Velo/Empower Coaching

At the head of the race, Kristin Armstrong leads a trio off the dam - wearing
yellow, of course.

Many racers faced the cold, lonely road today.

So finally, here are the Cat 4s, and Masters 35+. Unfortunately it was just too difficult to split them, especially when I couldn't always see the numbers. Slideshow of the rest is here.

Cameron Wagstaff (Majestic Cycling)

The Yellow Jersey wearer leads the peloton off the dam.

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