haffa race report, 2007 Tour de los Alamos

So the local road race was July 8th, 2007, I decided that I had not been riding enough, so I probably should just jump in. I am currently a cat 4 road racer in the ACA (the lowest catagory, USCF cat 4/5 equivalent, sort of). The race for cat 4s was a brisk 2 lap event totaling in at 54 miles and 4000 feet climbing.

The race profile looks like this, ranging from 6400-7800 feet:

click for bigger at the source

This is the only loop ride you can do from Los Alamos that is less than 50 (possibly more) miles... I blogged it here, for some more info

I am a pretty good climber for a big guy, but at 195 or so on race day, I was a bit nervous being surrounded by suspiciously tiny thin jockey like cyclists. But whatever, I could forgo beer and chocolate and ride more, but I usually do not, so fairs fair.

Anyhow, the race started off with a neutral parade to the start of the climb and then boom, we were off. The first nasty mile was a bit hard. I kept thinking I was mid pack and then noticed that I was second or third to last wheel. I think everyone made it up the first climb together. Then there were some tough rollers that spit out a few guys, never to be seen again. I was happy that I was having a relatively easy time so far, although one psuedo-attack left me thinking, f$*& this is hard.

Then there was a 8 mile gradual descent to the top of ancho canyon. The race at this point was pretty smooth and easy. I was legitimately mid pack here, watching a few guys up front keeping the pace high for their teammates. I was pedaling though to keep in contact. So it was not all rest. A guy from the sports outdoors team from albuquerque came alongside, turns out he was an ex Santa Cruzieno, and we talked about Kelly bikes and riding surf city cross and some other stuff for a bit. Parts of this stretch were pretty frustrating as the yellow line rule was being strictly enforced and the road is pretty narrow. There were a few guys who were sort of splitting the difference between riders ahead and it made it difficult to move up without riding the yellow line or the gutter. I need some more pack riding practice, my skills were a bit rusty.

The descent into Ancho canyon was a neutral descent as it is narrow twisty and fast. This did not prevent gaps from opening up though as the guys in front were tucking and the rest of us were not, and once we started down we could not pass those who were, without risking DQ. When we hit the bottom, I sprinted up to the front of the race for the climb.

The climb out of ancho was pretty hard. Guys were pushing it well and I was once again thinking I was in the middle of the pack, and then looked back to see I was at the end of the dwindling bunch. I made it through the last steep part of the climb with the group. But then, on the less steep part there were some accelerations and I got popped off, then caught back on, then popped off for good.

I chased solo for a while through some rollers before joining forces with Polar chain tension power meter guy. Then we team time trialed for EIGHT miles to try to catch back up. About when we hit White rock i realized that there was no way in hell I would be able to stick on the big climb when (if) we caught up. So I decided to go all hincapie and try to pull the other dude up to the pack afore I blew completely.

random bandalier loop photo from 2006

clicks for big

I started taking monster pulls and we just about caught up right at the base of the Truck route climb. At this point I completely popped, the elastic snapped, my suitcase of courage? empty. Polar chain tension power meter guy sprinted by me and may have caught the pack, I however did not. I shuterdown and softpedaled up the truck route. About half way up a group of three guys caught me and blew by me. Despite trying, I was unable to get to their wheels, let alone work with them.

Right at the top of the climb another big guy caught me. Turns out he was visiting from San Diego and only ever did crits. Poor fella, I am pretty sure the altitude must have be killing him. We rode the rest of the lap together and he kept going, while I pulled off, dipped through the canyon and went on home content to trade a nap for another 27 miles of pointless solo suffering.

lessons for next road race:
1. Start doing little sprintervals. I think I probably could have gone with the accelerations at the top of ancho if I had any burst speed.
2. Pick a flatter road race.
3. Do a group road ride more than once a year.

Who knows though, I probably won't do a road race again this year, with the possible exception of the Santa fe Ski hill climb, which is effectively a time trial with people around you.


Andrew said...

This is a really nice course. I did this race in '93 when I was an intern in the lab during the summer, and as more of a crit rider, and a heavier guy (180 lbs at the time), I suffered and finished (6th, back of the first group) with the worst leg cramps I have ever had. I literally fell over after the finish. We also did the course in the other direction, so no neutral descent.

At least you are acclimated to the altitude, right? And could just leave the race and take a nap.

Chad said...

Yup, that's a really hard race. Next year, come down to ABQ for the Oak Flats Race. No massive elevation changes, but it has some nice rollers where a strong guy like you can do some damage.

Perhaps I'm partial to it because it was my Greatest Cycling Achievement of 2006.

Tarik Saleh said...


Oh yeah, I am pretty sure I did not really suffer that much after I stopped trying due to the acclimatisation and the ready napping opportunity.

OK, maybe I will try to road race more next year and hit some flatter ones. or maybe I am too lazy?

Thanks for reading.