The Dawgs traveled back to East Garrison in Fort Ord for race three of the five race Norcal series. For this incarnation the course direction was reversed, and it became apparent even in the pre-ride that no one thought much of the new layout.
As Walker put it, “There was no real flow.” Never one to mince words, Julia summed it up nicely: “The uphills were boring and stupid and their only purpose was to lead up to pathetic downhills that slowed me down more than sped me up.”
The day started out with Varsity girls. Lauren got off to a bad start when a Redwood rider lost control in the sand and went over right in front of her. After disentangling herself, she hopped back on the bike but already the rest of the field was completely out of view. Meanwhile Julia was contending with the sandy corners and flow-less course on her own. Eventually the two joined up and worked together and, as usual finished together, coming in 10th and 11th.
In the Freshman Girls race, Jillian started off strong and mounted several attacks to move up in the race. Emily did not feel good about her first lap but pulled it together and started picking off the riders in front of her. Eventually the two girls rode together, until Emily got a gap on the lap 2 climb, and they finished 14th and 15th, both personal bests.
The Freshman Boys went out next. All of the racers either had call-ups or priority staging, so they started from a good place. Ryan came in 10th. Gustavo managed the maze-like and unpredictable course well through lap one, but went down on a turn in lap two, complete with a dropped chain, then had to fight his way back, passing several riders to grab another top-20 finish at 18th. Will came in 25th. Dylan Haldeman got a personal best on the tough, unrewarding course, pushing through a last lap low to power through the final hill section and pass about 5 riders to come in 28th.
Every one of the JV Boys will tell you he had a bad day; a combination of fatigue, being uninspired by the course, and even confused by the feed zone’s unusual mid-lap position. Walker fought back after a slow start to get 16th. Ulysses felt like giving up but instead just hurried to get the pain over with, passing a lot of other riders who were even worse off to get 23rd. Jake was next in 29th. Evan had a tough time getting mentally into the race, commenting that the mid-lap feed zone made it difficult to get a sense of where you were in the course. He came in 30th. Similarly Linot had a tough time escaping all the senior year spring semester distractions on his mind – but it was his legs that ultimately gave out in lap 3. Never one to quit, he soldiered on through lap two and came in 34th.
In the Varsity Boys race, Seth got gapped right before the “climb” on lap one, and took a while to get sorted out into a proper chase group. After dipping back to 15th in lap 2, he stepped things up and eked out a 10th place finish by turning in the 5th fastest final lap of the day. Sam Weinstein also fought off fatigue and the inevitable midseason motivational slump to fight his way up from 15th to finish in 13th, with all manner of attacks and cramps and course boredom falling in between.
In the end Seth, Lauren, Julia, Sam, Walker, Ryan, Ulysses and Emily scored for the team, compiling 3857 points for a 5th place finish that left the team in 5th overall, a mere 3 points behind Tam. The Dawgs travel to a brand new course in the Petaluma hills on April 5, where there’s some real climbing in store for them.