Reflection on Racing the Redlands Bicycle Classic – By Innokenty Zavyalov, SoCalCycling.com Team

Heads up! This will not be your usual race report but more of a reflection on the Redlands Bicycle Classic from the point of view of someone doing the race for the first time. To get an action packed report of the race I urge you to read Jon Hornbeck’s excellent write up posted here a few days ago. Jon was part of the action in the dwindled group on stage 5 helping Travis McCabe to the win.

Showing up to the first stage of Redlands I was trying to not get nervous. This was the biggest race I would be doing, the first USAC Pro Road Tour race. But convincing myself that its just another race made things a lot easier on the nerves. I’ve pre ridden the courses, have done the training, I had really good equipment. In short, things under my control have been taken care of. I was as prepared as I was, so stressing out about the race was meaningless. And it really did turn out to be like any other race you do, just a whole step up. Everything is faster, fields bigger and “deeper”, riders brake into turns later, opportunities to move up are smaller and teams more organized. It reminded me of being a cat 3 in a cat 1/2/3 field, or a cat 2 in a p/1/2 field like Tour of Murrieta or SDSR last year where I was fantastically dropped. Heading into the race I knew I was there to do well at the time trial on stage 3 and then go from there. I had to get to stage 3 safely, and without burning too many matches the day before.

Photos © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com

A chilly rain was coming down the day of the time trial. I was getting that satisfying warm buzz in the muscles after the warm up, a combination of excitement, warm muscles, and caffeine. My mind was focused, calm, ready. This surreal mental zone you can achieve before a time trial is quite special. It takes preparation and a good routine. As a time trialist I know this day is for me. All those painful intervals on the TT bike make these feelings worth it. Growing up watching the Olympics on TV I was always fascinated with the concentration of the athletes. The way a swimmer, a runner, a skier looks before the start. The twitches, the adjusting of gear. Checking buckles, zippers, clamps, gloves, sleeves, helmets. The nods and calming words said to oneself. There is so much intention and presence in those pre race moments. The next few minutes is what you live and train for. Now it was me, imagining I was at the start of the TdF prologue or the world championships. I got to hear a start clock, a real start clock! With its 4 “beeps” and a “boop” signaling the blast-off. The sounds we all know from watching professional tours in Europe.

The race itself was nothing to brag about, at the finish I heard I was 3rd fastest with Tom Zirbel just ahead of me, but as riders finished my position kept getting pushed down to end up in 32nd as the 3rd fastest Amateur. The short section of %7-8 grade ended up benefiting the climbers quite well. The rest of the stages were strung out, but it was really good to follow our SoCalCycling.com guest riders Chris Winn and Sergio Hernandez. Having two veterans to follow in the races was a good lesson on positioning and flow. After the Redlands Classic was over making all the time cuts seemed like an achievement considering out of 192 starters only 108 finished with a GC time. Leaving the race was painful, I wanted a good result, but I knew it would not be the last time I will battle the courses and the competition at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. A deep thank you to all the sponsors, our Cannondales handled beautifully on the technical courses. Showing up to the line in brand new Sugoi kits was a nice morale boost for the team. Thank you to Frank Sarate, Robin and Bob Sobey for support in the feeds, pre and post race.

SoCalCycling.com Team Sponsors – SoCalCycling.com, Cannondale, SUGOI Performance Apparel, Full Speed Ahead, Echelon Design – Web, Graphic & Photography, Clif Bar, ROL Wheels, KMC Chain, TRP Brakes, Larsen’s Restaurants, Fabric, Julbo USA, Ontario Police Officers’ Association, Continental Tires, Incycle Bicycles

By Innokenty Zavyalov, SoCalCycling.com Team

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