UC Merced Race Weekend
By Dana Song
The field was quite small. About 13 girls, give or take a couple, were racing in the Women’s B/C. Katherine, Tiffany, and I formed UC San Diego’s team, and the rest were the usual competing schools: Stanford, UCSB, UCD, UCLA, the works. Stern Referee Dude walks up, gives us the usual pre-race information dump, then after a minute of waiting, he blows the whistle, and we were off. As expected, the peloton rolls off slowly, and we maintain that no-drop pace for about 10 minutes, until we hit our first little climb (the entire road race had no major hills, just short rolling ones. Very reasonable for non-climbers). Katherine decided to launch an attack at that moment, and I quickly sucked onto her wheel, along with a UCSB chick and a Stanford Chick. And thus we formed our breakaway that was maintained until the end of the race.
A UCLA chick eventually caught up to us, and for the rest of the road race, all five of us formed a paceline. It was very amicable. No one tried to pull any fast ones on one or another. Also, since we were a breakaway of five, that meant we were all guaranteed to podium. I think we were all pretty happy about that. In the last few miles of the race, the road started to get a lot uglier and less maintained. I best describe riding on that portion of the course like sitting on a mobile vibrating massage chair that’s trying to buck you off. Fortunately, no one ended up flatting. It was only when we were approaching the finish line when we all fell out of line, and made a mad dash. Katherine had a clear lead, and then it was UCSB chick, then me. I ended up passing the UCSB chick few seconds before the finish line, and snagged that second place.
So all in all, great race, pretty easy course, and very nice farm scenery, with plenty of cows and sheep. 10/10 would recommend everyone to race it in the future.
The Crit was quite fun. It’s a mile long square that circled around most of the UC Merced campus (which gives a sense of how small the newly fledged UC campus is). There were two tricky corners, one which was a narrow left hand, and another which immediately was followed by a downhill, which made for a quick left hand corner. Approaching the finish line, there is a gradual climb, which added some additional difficulty. The Womens B/C field was small, with only about 10 people racing. Upon starting, I pulled for a bit before I got tired of breaking wind and slowed down enough for someone to become impatient and ride ahead of me. There were three primes, two of which I won. Upon the 2nd prime, I realized I put enough distance between myself and the pack where a solo breakaway might’ve been sustainable. However, I doubted my endurance, chickened out, and let myself get sucked back into the pack (better safe than sorry, I suppose).
At the very last lap before the finish, the same breakaway group from the previous road race formed again, and we all made a sprint for the finish. Overall, Katherine ended up first again, UCSB girl got second, and I snagged a third, earning me first place in the C’s. Tiffany ended up finishing 6th, which meant she placed a third place podium in the C’s (way to go, Tiff!) And of course, Katherine ended up first place in the B’s. 10/10 would recommend everyone to race this course in the future.