I pinned on a number and raced for the first time since my heart attack (sept 11, 2013) in a road race down in Baja California, Mexico. The course was 2 laps of a fantastic route that started and finished in the wine-growing hills inland of Ensenada. I signed up on a whim after a couple who my Fiancee and I ride with (and who are 10 years younger than us!) mentioned they were doing it. There was a masters field (40+) that I qualified for, but I raced "segundo fuerza" (roughly equivalent to USA Cat 3/4) because it did two laps, and the masters only did one. My fiancee and her friend raced the elite women's field, and my buddy raced in the Pro/Elite men's field. The course started off with rollers and a long descent toward the coast. A break of 3 went away from the gun, and I moved up easily through the field and led the peloton over the last big-ring rise before the descent. At the bottom of the descent, a guy carried some momentum and looked like he was attempting to bridge to the leaders so I grabbed his wheel along with another dude, and the three of us made it up to the front three in about a minute of chasing. The third guy we brought with us was a teammate of a guy in the break, so I took real short pulls and made sure to let the two know we expected them to work harder. We got about a minute up on the main field by the time we hit the climb. I hung in with them well for about 8 minutes, but hit my limit and had to let them roll away. About a minute later the peloton blew by me like I was sitting still. By the top of the climb they were long out of view. I used a couple of cars (the course was open to traffic) to draft up to a group of stragglers (which felt pro as hell) but by the time we crossed the line to start the second lap we had no hope. I pulled out so I could give bottles to the women (who started behind me) and to my friend (who started before me, but would be doing 3 laps). Fiancee's friend finished 4th in the women, and her husband finished 7th in the Elite field, which contained the National Champion of Mexico and some local pros.
That course is completely gorgeous and a great race course, the organization was top notch, the riders fast and friendly, and the vibe was very familial in general. Also it started in front of a winery housed in a Bond Villain lair. It felt so great to pedal hard in a group again. Next time I'll probably race Master's, but I'll definately be back.
― sous les paves, Thursday, 26 March 2015 05:05 (four years ago) link
Nice! I never really thought about what considerations racing in Mexico would entail before- traffic safety, licensing, insurance, general logistics. Any worries or is it NBD?
Not really a race but I signed up for http://www.toddandnedfondo.com/index.php in Durango in Sept. It's been a long time since I rode down there. Need to blow cobwebs off mtb and start riding it regularly.
― men without hat tips (Hunt3r), Thursday, 26 March 2015 12:05 (four years ago) link
Totally envious over here, sounds totally exhilarating. Nice job on the break.
― the most painstaking, humorless people in the world (lukas), Thursday, 26 March 2015 19:57 (four years ago) link
Traffic was really a non-issue. Most of the route was on roads that serviced remote farm areas, and being a Sunday monring, it was dead out there. The parts that were on larger roads were also lightly traffiked (again, sunday morning), and there were many vehicles related to the race (mostly relatives going around to vantage points to take pictures of their racers) and as such were going plenty slow. This is how I as able to draft cars, one was some kind of offical vehicle, and the other two were going to feed zones to hand up bottles or something. I can't remember any cars actually passing the field at all. At the start/finish line there was an ambulance, and another was circling the field, and there were posted police at the main corners. My mom's side of the family owns a pair of houses on the beach down there, about a 20 minute drive from the race start, so I went down the day before and spent the night, which made getting there a breeze. My friend who races the elite field has a Mexican racing license, which is awesome. It is nicely laminated and has his photo and a watermark on it. Way better than the USA cycling license! For the rest of the fields, it seems like it's self-selected, especially if you're a gringo. I just walked up and registered and they really deriuidn't ask me anything. The racing fee (which was 200 pesos, about $13!!!!) came with some kind of accident insurance coverage, but I didn't look that closely.
All in all it was a very friendly, family vibe. Kind of reminds me of the vibe at the Velodrome, where it is very competitive, but everybody knows each other, so there is a high level of mutual respect and camaraderie. This race was #3 out of a yearly series of six races on the same course. They also have a criterium series around the new convention center in Rosarito Beach, and a couple of crits in downtown Tijuana that I plan on hitting up. A fantastic scene, overall.
― sous les paves, Thursday, 26 March 2015 23:02 (four years ago) link
What's the normal situation in the USA with road racing then? In Britain (unless it's a really major event) you're on the open road, usually on a circuit somewhere between 5 and 15 miles. The roads aren't closed to traffic, but there are marshalls (or police, in some areas) who can hold up the traffic for a minute or so as you approach junctions. So you always have to worry about oncoming traffic.
― (Meme From) Essex Press (Nasty, Brutish & Short), Friday, 27 March 2015 20:46 (four years ago) link
Doing this "race" this weekend, Tecate to Ensenada (Baja California, MX). It's probably going to be hot as hell at the beginning.
― sous les paves, Friday, 19 June 2015 15:51 (four years ago) link