I went into this race hoping to be able to ride at the front and sprint hard at the end. I know that I don't have the leg speed/power to be able to win a race right now, but I at least wanted to see what I could do if I did try my hardest.
Ladera Ranch is a fairly flat, 4 corner sort of course that circles a residential park. For the most part the course was nice. The corners however, presented a fairly high risk. Each of the intersections that surrounded the park had islands in the middle of them, so each corner narrowed the course down to a single lane. Category 4 racers seem to have a real problem understanding that if they dive up the inside of the field right before a narrow corner that carnage is going to ensue, so I was a little nervous when I saw how much the corners narrowed things.
This was a 45 minute race. The first 15 minutes were spent with me trying to hold on as the field surged out of the corners. My issues in my left leg make it tough for me to deal with the quick accelerations that come as the group accordions in and out of corners. Once things slowed down a bit I was able to find a nice spot in and around some guys who were taking the corners pretty smoothly. The middle of the race then went along pretty smoothly.
The last third of the race things started to get a bit more hairy. With me planning on getting on a plane for vacation as soon as the race ended, getting home safe was a much bigger priority for me than getting in an accident while trying to win. I told myself that if I couldn't get up into the top 15 with 3 laps to go I was going to drop out. With the speed picking up, riders getting more aggressive in the corners, etc. I wanted to ensure that I'd be out of the craziness that I knew was going to happen further back in the field.
With 3 laps to go I was able to blast my way to the front coming into corner 4. As much as I wanted to continue to hammer on things at the front, I just didn't have the sort of legs that were going to allow me to do so. I held on as best I could, kept it safe through the corners, and came home in 23rd. No big accomplishment, but it was nice to get another race under my belt.
More than anything, this race proved even more to me that I really need to wait until my leg is working properly before I try go get too serious about racing.
I'm going to do the 5th Ontario crit this coming weekend (8/24) and the September Fiesta Island Team Time Trial. After that I'm done for the year. Sometime around October I'll start thinking about next year.