UCI Zot Trot 2016
by Marcel Aguiar
At the very start of 2015 I was SO excited for the season. My swimming was solid, Tuesday morning Swamis rides had me at the fastest ever on the bike, and I PR’d my mile run by a ridiculous half-minute. How could I not be excited for Zot Trot? But as fortune would have it, I had to change my Zot Trot registration to a relay at the end of January. Upper foot pain during runs started in early January, and a month later it wasn’t any better. What seemed like would require a few weeks of rest turned into a month, into 3 months, and eventually the whole season and school year went by and I was still having on and off pain. From January 2015 to January 2016 I experienced the amazing efficiency of our healthcare system. I’ll skip the details to prevent this race report from becoming longer than a grad student dissertation, but after countless visits to different doctors, I had multiple x-rays, an MRI, orthotics, foot cream, and no knowledge or improvement of what injury I had. At the start of this winter quarter as a last attempt to fix the injuries I got another bike fit and started physical therapy. And just like that, everything seemed to start turning around. I can’t thank Cody Stevenson at Holland Cycles and Martin at Physiotherapists enough for actually having the patience and care to fix the problem. So I carefully decided to start practice again. Even though it was just another one of many attempts to get back into running, mentally and physically I felt better about my foot and knee. The first three weeks of practice went great. Although I was in no shape for any of the workouts, the fact that I was able to attend practices once again felt amazing. Before I knew it the team started talking about the first upcoming race. Three weeks until Zot Trot? Screw it, I’m racing it. Might not be fast, but at least I’ll be able to get a feel for the state of my injuries in a race setting.
Fourth and Final Zot Trot!
Marcel beginning the descent.
During the chilly bike warm up, our predictions on the car ride up were affirmed: this race was going to be foggy. The fog on the descent only gave about 2 seconds of reaction time. But there was no way that wouldn’t get better with some sunlight that would surely come by race time. Wrong. It probably got worse. So I took that in to consideration for my goal of the race: don’t hurt myself. The swim started off smoothly and I was able to move up some 10-15 places by the time I hopped on my bike. While moving up the first hill, I didn’t think anything about the fog because I was moving too slowly to really notice it. But as I hit the first downhill, **HOLY WOW**. I couldn’t see far enough ahead. I was moving way too fast to react to what was coming out of the fog. Good thing many people weren’t on the bike course yet, because I completely went through the cones onto the wrong side of the course. The fog was sticking heavily to the inside and outside of my helmet visor. I kept in mind my goal for the race and tried to play it safe for the rest of the bike while still keeping a good speed. All I had to do was wipe the inside and outside of my visor maybe 3 times per loop. Lessons learned from previous Zot Trots, I avoided crashing corners at full gas, I mounted my bike properly, and didn’t miss the turn-out at the end. Awesome. Only transition and a run left to not mess up. The transition and run were pretty straightforward, and physically, I felt great. Except for when a high-schooler passed me on the run. That hurt. I think he was the only person to pass me during the race. I struggled a little from being out of running shape, but I had enough gas in me to reach the downhill portion. At that point I let my legs fly and made extra sure to not hurt the foot or knee on the final stretch. I flew through the finish line, and if you ask Charlie, he would tell you that I probably barreled another 100 yards before I stopped.
Honestly, I can’t even express how good it feels to be racing again. After missing a whole season to a foot injury and then being scared about missing my whole senior year season due to a ugly knee injury on the same leg, being able to just show up for a race was all I could ask for. Since I hadn’t raced since 2014, I had forgotten how much fun it was to race with a team. The team did awesome as a whole, and more importantly did so with even better attitudes. Additionally, I couldn’t go this whole race report without mentioning Charlie. Even though it was no surprise, I was stoked to see him finish on the podium for the first time. Racing together for the fourth year, I can say that he is the definitive example of steady improvement through consistency and hard work. With that said, thanks to UCI for putting on a great race that we come back to year after year and I can’t wait for what the rest of the season holds for our team.