Monday, February 25, 2008

Cantua Creek and Snelling Road Races, Ed Price

Cantua Creek Road Race

After several years of thinking about racing the Cantua Creek Road Race this year I finally made it. The course does suit my talents with no mountains, a good distance (50 + miles) and a long uphill finish, like half way up Coolidge Drive at UCSC. I finished 4th, Vlada finished 5th and Joe Platin finished 6th place. It was my highest placing since finishing second in a Cat 3/4 open field at the Early Bird Criterium some five years ago.

Our team had the most riders in the race with four, John Pollard being the other team rider. The winner broke away from the start into a downhill headwind and we never saw him again. Thinking back on it, we should have had some sort of plan for the race and I take responsibility for that. I should have assigned someone to cover the first one half lap till the turn around and someone else to cover the road back to the finish and so forth. I realize with the 45+ 4/5 field and a relatively flat course we could have controlled the race better. Hindsight is always perfect vision and next time we will all know better. I knew it would be impossible for the field to work together and by the time I was aware of anyone off the font, his lead was two minutes. He was obviously very strong and well on his way to being a Cat 3 rider. The race alternated between 19 miles per hour and 27 miles per hour as the pack would string out when someone would pull hard and slow down when he would tire. I moved up to the front in the last lap back to the finish but I never put my back into any hard pulls, I just wanted to be near the front in the last five miles or so. I sprinted pretty hard from a very long way out, maybe 800 meter or so and built up a good lead, only to see two riders pass me on the last uphill to the finish. It was way too early but I still finished 3rd in the filed sprint and 4th overall. Looking at the pictures of the race, Vlada was right behind me and Joe was just ahead of the main field.

I want to thank John Pollard for all of the work he did in the middle of the race, he took some hard pulls with a rider from San Jose, Joe was very active at the front and the same was true of Vlada. I don't think the four of us could have caught the lone breakaway after he built up a two minute lead and maybe none of us could have held his wheel for the entire race as one person is much harder to draft off of than a large group but we should have tried to cover his early move anyway and for that, I take full responsibliity for our failure to do so. I haven't won a race since 1998 at the Pescadero Road Race so my mindset has been to try to place in the top six and on some courses, just to finish as high as possible. This year my fitness is much better, my weight is much lower and my uphill sprint is sharper from six months of sprinting up the backside of Bonita at the end of the Sunday ride when the legs are already very tired.

Our team has never been as strong as it is now. We now have 23 active racers on the team and people are comming to us from other teams wanting to join because we have the most road racers of any team in the county. I need to get used to the idea of our team being able to control a race and set someone up for the win and Cantua Creek showed me it is possible on select courses.

Snelling Road Race

Snelling Road Race was the following Saturday. I entered the open Cat 4 race that started very early (8:05am). The rain held off for the race but the wind picked up from about 15 miles per hour on the first lap to 20 miles on the second lap to 30-35 miles per hour on the third lap. Our field was full at 100 and the racing started as soon as we hit the tailwind that started the first of five laps. The group stayed mostly together until the third lap when the race started to "blow apart" on the tailwind section of road that headed north. I bridged from group to group until I was in the lead group of maybe 20 riders with six riders off the front by maybe ten seconds. The race turned right and into a fierce sidewind when I found myself at the front of the group of 20 trying to bridge to the six man break when my rear tire blew and I had no choice but to stop and repair it. I watched about six different groups of my race go by and when I remounted, I was all alone, riding 13 miles per hour directly into the wind back to the start-finish line. There were still two more laps to go and not wanting to drop out, I rode on. Someone from my race caught me who had broken a chain earlier and we rode together till the finish. I was really good to have some company on the headwind section.

I felt good about the race considering I made the final selection of the best riders and I was really happy to see Bryan King right there in that elite group of about 20. He went way too early on the sprint and lead into the right hand turn but he gave it his best shot. I was really impressed with how Bryan rode because in the space of about five miles, 60 riders lost contact with the lead group and he was right there. Pretty impressive.

Next Sunday is my hardest race so far this year, the 45+ open category at the McLane-Pacific Road Race. 53 miles of gentle rolling hills over two laps. 100 riders in my race and it is an NRC race that is part of the National Racing Calendar so it attracts the best age group riders in the state. The last time I raced McLane-Pacific in the 35+ 4/5 category, the wind was still, the weather was perfect and we covered 53 miles in 1:52 (an average of 26.5 miles per hour). I hope the weather is cooperative and the wind not a huge factor. In Sunday's race my goal is to finish with the main group.

Ed Price

No comments: