By Lisa Mueller -- Pescadero Coastal Classic (W1/2) -- 06/23/12
(Photo by Alex Chiu)
I already knew this would be the Best Weekend Ever. Those in doubt can reference the past three weeks of Facebook archives to witness my embarrassingly giddy anticipation. I was burning to reunite with my teammates after a prolonged estrangement during collegiate nationals, a hammy injury, and a few weeks of hella SoCal racing. So long had it been since my last race up north that three different people told me I now talk funny. If there's a SoCal cyclist's version of surfer speak, apparently I speak it ("You said 'railing bikes!' HAAAHAHA..."). Anyway, when the race official blew his whistle I was still bear-hugging my teammates and extended teammates. Rolling through the neutral section, I spontaneously exclaimed, "I AM SO HAPPY!!!" (Hey, I never said this report wouldn't be corny.)
I can't imagine a lovelier town to host a race than the coastal hamlet of Pescadero. The saying goes, "As a training ride Pesky is glorious; as a race it is soul-crushing." The 75-mile course includes significant climbs (the kind that make you think, "Oh sh*t!" as you approach them), along with technical descents (the kind that make you think, "Oh sh*t!" as you approach them). The semi-pro Stevens p/b Pactimo team sent their biggest guns, by which I mean their tiniest climbers. Pesky's reputation as the hardest one-day road race in California made for a self-selected bunch, especially with many of the less vertically inclined racers flocking to the concurrent Apple Pie Crit. Having raced Pesky twice before, I mostly knew what was in store. However, this was my first time in the P/1/2 field; I anticipated unprecedented suffering. I might have been in the middle of a training period and hence not anywhere near peak fitness, but mentally I was 110% up for this challenge. I was just so PUMPED to be there with my friends! I was just so PUMPED about bike racing!! I was just so PUMPED about LIFE!!!!
RAWR! I inflicted unspeakable violence on myself to hang with the leaders up the first three climbs. I was still with them until the end of the second lap, when my elation-doping suddenly lost its edge over my competitors' superior watts-per-kilo. I suffered a further setback when I slammed the brakes behind an ambulance halting to scrape someone off the Haskins descent. Whereas my second lap had been purely good times (I got to chill while my teammate initiated a break up the road), my final lap was an interminable grind on a two-person pain train. After my most harrowing effort of the year, I finished seventh and spent half my winnings on famous artichoke-themed delicacies in downtown Pescadero. My teammates placed second, ninth, and eleventh, regrettably unable to withstand the Stevens gauntlet. However, my result earned our team some valuable points in the NCNCA Premier Series, which has become a fun and much heated season-long battle between Stevens and Metromint. Most importantly, I had spent over three hours engaged in honest-to-goodness, rippin-yer-legs-off, legit bike racing. Some races are flat and boring and end in field sprints. Some races have world-class NRC fields that leave you just praying to make time cuts and trying to conserve as much gas as possible with the other freds. In the Pescadero WP1/2 race, every racer leaves all her guts on the road. This course is glorious as a training ride AND as a race, after all.
On Sunday I enjoyed a TTT practice with my teammates on some old stomping grounds, topping off what was indeed the Best Weekend Ever.