Grasshopper Road Race (a local group ride/race in Occidental)
March 15, 2008
As my Dad and I drove through the country to the start in Occidental, It looked as if it was going to be a rainy day. Sitting at the start line awaiting the start Scott Nydam of BMC Pro Racing rode up behind me, I was happy to see that he had come. O’ Ya Levi was there as well. That was pretty cool too. So we set of to race now with Scott Nydam, Ben Standish (Dewar’s), Brian Anderson (Red Horse—winner of the Terrible Two), and I on the front. That was good because I didn’t have to deal with all the squirrelly people in the back. I knew the first deciding factor in this race would be the climb at the end of Franklin School Rd. So I just stuck on Levi’s wheel all the way up. Had a nice climb in awe that I am racing against Levi. I got to the top feeling pretty good, and having a blast. I was now in the brake away with Scott Nydam, Levi Leipheimer, Jonathan Lee, John Staroba, Tim Farnam, and one other guy. Everyone was either a professional or a cat 2. So that was really cool for me to be in it. We descended down to ride along the California coast of Hwy 1. It was crazy to be in a race with Levi, like riding by him, then taking a pull up front and then getting on his wheel. It was just kind of weird. I was taking some good pulls up front but never too hard to save myself for the later obstacles to come. That was one fun ride down the coast. We took the left hand bend to face Marshall Wall. Not too far into the climb I lost contact with Scott, Levi, and Tim. The first part of the climb I was just out of it, the I just peddled faster and got into this great tempo caught John who was trying to bridge back up to the three guys up the climb, he jumped on my wheel and we continued this hard fast pace to the top of the climb, where we eased up a bit for Jonathan to rejoin us and we quickly descended down.
Marshall-Petaluma Rd. is a rolling road where we set a fast tempo and caught a guy who got dropped from the Scott-Levi group. Now there was four of up to take on the upcoming Wilson Hill and the always constant head wind on Chileno Valley . Nearing the top of Wilson Hill I was thrilled to see my injured team mate Ethan on top to cheer me on, that was pretty cool of him to drive out to help his teammate. The head wind out was tough but we got through it to turn on Petaluma-Tomalas Rd. in which we could actually see the Scott-Levi group up ahead. They weren’t all that far away. We road across the valley to Bloomfield which we eventually turned on to Burnside, I was starting too feel it now, all the way up this climb Jonathan pushed me too keep going. There was no doubt in my mind to not, but it sure did help to have him there. That was awesome of him. At this point John Staroba, and another guy got away from us. So Jonathan and I descended down and after a Clif Bar, and a Clif Shot I had a new sudden burst of energy and gave my turn up front some strength. Jonathan and I reached the final short climb to the finish on top in Downtown Occidental I pulled all the way to the top and Jonathan and I crossed the finish line with our hands around each others shoulders that was a good moment. What a day so Levi won and I came in shortly after him in 6th place.
March 28, 2008
The Grasshopper race was going to be a good one; I had been looking forward to it all week. The day started out good, too. I left for the race an hour early to ensure I would be there in plenty of time. I had an hour drive to Occidental, where it started. After an unintentionally long stop at the local coffee stop, I was on my way. Around 20 minutes into my drive, my car started making this “knocking” sound. This was a recurring problem. I have missed rides and races before due to this familiar sound, so I was not about to miss this one. I popped the hood, just because it’s what you’re supposed to do when your car breaks down. Once open, I just started at it, not really knowing what to do. I checked the oil, and it was a little low, so I added more. Hoping that was the only problem, after adding the oil I turned the car on only to hear a louder knocking.
My new plan was to find the next car with a bike rack on and flag them down. Before I had a chance to do this, a truck pulled up behind me. He had seen me with my hazard lights on and turned around to see if I was alright. The car had conveniently died the only stretch of the road where there was no cell service. He told me he would drive me to where I had service. I threw my bike in the back of his truck and grabbed all my gear. Once he started driving me toward Santa Rosa , he said he would take me all the way to Laura’s house, a good hour out of his way. I was really lucky to have been picked up by such a nice guy. He dropped me off and wouldn’t take any money for the inconvenience or gas. I walked into Laura’s house, and without explaining much of what happened, we got changed and rolled out. Although I wasn’t stranded anymore, I still was not sure I was going to make it to the race in time. It was at least an hour ride to Occidental, and we were pushing it. We high-tailed it to Occidental and rolled up with a good 15 minutes to spare. It wasn’t the relaxing morning I had planned, but it worked.
There were 170 people total. I didn’t know that much about the “race” and was surprised to see so many spandex-clad people. Levi Leipheimer and Scott Nydam were there…I had no idea the “celebrities” were going to show up. After chatting for awhile, and some announcements, we were starting down a super cold descent. Everybody stayed together until we hit the first short climb. The first climb really hurt, but I knew if I wanted any chance at doing well, I was going to have to stay towards the front.
I got off the first climb in a group about 20 strong. I stayed with those guys through the rollers along the coast. It was a nice view and I was feeling good, sprinting up all the short hills. By the time we got to the main climb, Marshall Wall, the group split up and I was getting more tired. I ate a gel and stayed with the guys at the back. I figured as long as I had someone to work with, I would be alright. At the top of the climb, there were 5 of us together. We took turns pulling and caught up to a couple more riders who latched onto us. There were about 10 of us who stayed together through Coleman Valley . We were going pretty slowly because of the crosswinds. I was feeling alright, then we turned on to Burnside Road —I felt the burn. Making it over that climb, I knew there was only a few miles left, finishing with a short climb.
I should have eaten something at that point. I was tired, barely hanging onto the wheel in front of me. I slowly made my way up the last climb and was the first woman to finish. Although I was happy about being the first woman, I was not happy with how I died coming up the last climb. I needed to eat something but didn’t pay attention and bonked. It was a fun race overall and I’m looking forward to doing more grasshopper races.
Grasshopper Adventure Series 2008: #2 Chileno
Rider Time Place
Levi Leipheimer 2:59 1
Tim Farnham 3:00 2
Scott Nydam 3:00 3
Chris Sneddon 3:04 4
John Staroba 3:04 5
Ryan Eastman 3:08 6
Jonathan Lee 3:08 7
Bing Knight 3:11 8
Ted Simpkins 3:11 9
Rich Thurman 3:11 10
Giampaolo 3:11 11