Five years ago I was in Santiago Chile pretending to race my bicycle. I wrote about my first experience then, which involved a much steeper learning curve than I experienced today. None the less, I feel compelled to document how today came to pass so I may help future racers and my own shitty memory.
Where to get the Information
So first thing is to be friends with the facebook person/page https://www.facebook.com/canadelaciclismo.santiago . They seem to do most of the communication through facebook although they have a website but it does not seem to be updated as often.
While you are at it, you can befriend https://www.facebook.com/ciclismo.amcla which is the other organized racing I hear about but have not participated in. Maybe it will come in the summer? Additionally, the following page seems to be trying to represent the Chilean cycling scene so it’s worth a check every now and then, http://www.ciclismolaboral.cl/category/competencias/ . It included a slightly more helpful instruction set for today’s race.
I was sent the following post to instruct me on the winter cycling season for the Canadela association.
So, I am now living in an enormous city with a shit load of little towns all around. And this is all the information I get for the whole winter. If you google map Cerro Navia you get a highlighted area of maybe 15 square kilometers. Fortunately, Canadela is on top of it and sent out this post a few days ago.
Don’t worry about the Spanish. Basically it says, the start is at the corner of Las Torres and J.J. Perez, it’s gonna be neutralized until Noviciado and the finish is in an industrial area. $8 entry and start time is at 9:30am for the first category.
OK, so even in California, cycle racing maps are notoriously shitty. It seems that all bike races are limited to about 18 words to describe how to arrive to a point in the middle of no where where you will likely not have cell phone reception. If you look through the comments of the post above, you can see me begging for someone to confirm the start (partida) on a google map, which no one did. Eventually I was able to confirm it to be here which is about 4km from where I am staying, nice.
I woke up at 7am to bake the bread I prepared the night before. I ate three eggs on top of it, it was lovely. I left at 9:15am and got there at 9:25am. My race was not to start for another 70 minutes and it was like 5 degrees celsius. Fortunately the Morris Family was still making a killing selling coffee and snacks to these races! These guys took me in like a son 5 years ago, and became my cycling family. Took me to races. Made fun of my Spanish. Gave me a jersey. Drove me to all the races. Gave me free food and coffee. So I fought off the cold with some banter and a coffee this morning.
There are five categories you can race and there is really no qualifications for any of them as far as I can tell other than age.
- Debutantes: first timers, youth.
- Dorados, Super Masters and Women: the best of the old guys
- Senior B and Master
- Senior A
- Adult A and everything else: my group, the good group
You will see all types of bikes at this race but for the most part, people got them well tuned and looking clean. A lot of no-name wheel manufacturers with a few that got their hands on some expensive brands. Almost no tubulars since the roads are pretty crap. Teams do not seem to be as big of a focus as they are back home, but indeed there are many of them.
The race was set for 80km. They explained the directions to us but I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about as the announcer would say things on the microphone to everyone like “… so you know that little town with speed bumps, you’ll do a u-turn there, and then when you get to the highway, you’ll do a few turns and then you’re at the finish line.” Not ideal for me but it’s all I had. The race started with 10km of neutral riding out to the country. Once we were set free an attack went off from the get go and the pace picked up.
Attacks were often and with passion and seemed to make sense. The roads were long and straight and slightly windy so it was difficult to get a big gap. The group in general seemed fit and my presumption that they were in winter mode meant fuck-all. Initially I planned to sit in and conserve. But where’s the fun in that? I attacked at 10km, 30km, 40km, 60km, and a few more times as we got to the pointy end of the stick.
I was happy with all my attacks until the end. I was able to fend off the group for a few kilometers each time and by the end of the race, I was getting whistles as I would jump away. But then things got messy. As we hit the 75km I was sitting in the top 5 letting a team do the work. I heard them and others talking and lead myself to believe that we had 1km to go. So when someone jumped, I followed him and we got a gap. I told him I would help him win if he got me to the finish line and then we turned what I thought was the last curve, and saw just more straight road. He told me we still had 5km to go. So I let the peloton catch us. This same sequence happened again with, what I was told, still 2km to go.
We hit the airport, did a few curves and were sprinting for the finish. I rolled in with the back of the sprint fighting off a cramp. The 80km race was more like 84. But I guess if they can put on the flyer a city name as the starting point, they can round to whatever the fuck they want for the distance.
10km to get home and a nice pork chop lunch with the family. Great day of cycling.
Here’s the Strava with no specific start or stop to the race. Power meter battery has been dead for a few days so need to replace that.