Descending into the paddock at Laguna SecaApril 20, 2011
Descending into the paddock at Laguna Seca embodies the emotion of swinging the doors open to the Duomo grand cathedral of Milan for me. In her bosom now gazing outward I can feel the energy, something within tingles. This place is electric. Harness this and ride beyond your expectations I reminded myself, for I've done just that on several occasions in the past here. But I'm not on firm ground this time around. The 20 miles of skatey dirt, powdery sand and tight single track sharply contrasts the flowing 2.4 miles of blacktop that makes up the road course. Trading in my 200HP superbike motor to solely rely on the power of my legs will be an adjustment as well.
I've always wanted to join the festivities at the Sea Otter classic but a conflicting AMA Superbike schedule has not allowed for it. Preriding the course and cruising the vendor area Thursday confirmed it has been well worth the wait. With all the different events going off, the equipment varied as much as the characters living it. People watching was at it finest.
Returning to the track looks as though a resting monster is reawakening. The sleep is wearing off, a crit is released in formation, dual slaloms are diving down the slopes in competition, freestyle bikes begin soaring, it's alive... But will my legs be I wonder? Tension is high around the Team Sho-Air/Specialized rig. Pre race nerves got us all it seems, an uncomfortable feeling I'd hate to go through life without. Pulse check... Boom, Boom, Boom... Very Alive!
Riding a reverse lap around the road circuit is the calm before the storm. A gentlemen pace cautiously eases it's way around the tarmac till the mad uphill dash brakes out towards Rainey curve. For the next 3 hours I will be on the limiter driving as much power as I can muster into the peddles. Will it be enough? Losing some time on the first decent, my friend Oliver and I drove forward together bridging the gap to the lead duo. My legs are underneath me I thought to myself, Laguna Seca is once again elevating my game. In actuality this was not quite the case. My heart rate was through the moon, I was running on borrowed time. At roughly the halfway point I could no longer sustain the leaders monstrous pace. The following ninety minutes became an exercise in humility, each hill seemed to double in length and grade. Very soon I would be off the bike pushing, thank goodness the end had finally arrived to my rescue. Congratulations to all who endured the challenge and a special Congrats to my competition for turning me inside out. Exertion had my guts twisted in knots. With the need to fend off dueling quad cramps post race, Johnny Muller graciously lifted me back to my feet. Defeated and somewhat helpless, I thought to myself, I am proud of my fifth place finish, and very eager to return in 2012 to return the favor...