Six Sigma Showdown – 05/01/2022 – Felix Bloemraad

When I entered Six Sigma on the day of the race pre-ride, the first thing I noticed was how busy it was. Due to the other region that raced there that day, the large field that served as a parking lot was full of cars, tents, trailers, and more. Arriving at the El Cerrito tent, I saw that a number of people were already there and setting up tents to camp over at the venue the night before the race. I was staying at a nearby hotel, so I just hung out and talked to people until the pre-ride.

The ride started out fine, with a fast start into a few small turns, but we soon were stopped because of a long line waiting to cross a creek and make it up a short but steep climb. It took a couple of minutes for us to make it to the front of the line, but by the time I did, I noticed that my bike was making strange noises. After meeting up with the rest of the team on the other side of the creek, I decided to head back to the tent early because I was really concerned by the noise coming from my back tire.

Back at the tent, I learned that the sound was probably just the plastic disk between my gears and the spokes, so I headed over to the Mike’s Bikes van to get it removed. It was removed with no problems, and the concerning sound stopped, but I found an even bigger problem: my bike’s frame was cracked. Unfortunately, this probably meant that I couldn’t race on it the next day, so I decided to talk to Coach Doug about it.

Thankfully, it turned out that we had a team bike available that I could use, but I would have to finish the race quickly the next day in order to get it to another rider for her race. With the problem (partially) solved, I headed out on a full pre-ride and ate dinner with the team before heading to my hotel for the night.

The next day, I was feeling pretty nervous about the race. I was biking on a bike I had never ridden before, on a course that had a lot of sharp and loose turns. Additionally, there was a section of the course which ran through a creek under a bridge, and I was not looking forward to getting splashed with muddy water in the morning.

My race started pretty well, I was able to get ahead of a lot of people during the initial sprint. I also managed to cross the creek that so many people struggled at the previous day. Most of my first lap was pretty hard, because I was constantly trying to stay ahead of the others and I had to pass D2 riders. Fortunately, by the second half of the first lap and the whole second lap, I was mostly on my own. At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was doing in the race, so the only thing I could do was ride as hard as I could.

Since I was now alone, I managed to enjoy the beautiful course a lot more. The race was held on a series of cliffs and meadows, with nice views and pretty flowers. It was truly one of the nicest courses I’ve seen.

Funnily enough, despite dreading the massive puddle of water before the race started, by the time I got to it on my second lap I was actually looking forward to the chance to cool myself off. It wasn’t actually that hot yet, but combined with how hard we were working, I was feeling really hot.

The race ended well, too. I managed to pass a number of people from D2 on the second half of my last lap, and I was happy to be finished. I ended up placing 27th, which wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but I was still happy with it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the team bike to Gabbie before her race.
Even though I didn’t place as well as I had hoped, it was enough to qualify for states!