I love going back to Sacramento, I attended UC Davis for college and my best friend owns a house ½ mile from Land Park in Sac. I did this race in 2006 as a Cat 5 and it was one of my first couple crits. The course is challenging, not your typical 4 corner business park race, but a 1 mile loop with a chicane and two 90 degree’ish turns (one left, then one right) thrown in for good measure that really support a good bike handler and explosive rider. The course is wide open, flat as a pancake and has some dot bots in the center of the lane. It comes down to the sprinters or a solid breakaway that can negotiate the turns better than a pack.
Saturday was supposed to be rainy and windy, but when I woke up it was sunny and looked like one hell of a day for racing. Dennis, this is for you! My breakfast was Cheerios and bananas with a double cappuccino and some tasty orange Cytomax. I signed in and started my warm up with an hour to go before my race. Normally I tend to go easy on warm-ups, but this time I put some effort into it. Lately I’ve found that I really need a good hard effort to get wound up and get my LT system active. I spun out at 200W on my trainer in the grass by the finish line (did I mention Land Park is a beautiful park filled with golfers (great 9 hole course!), dogs and residents enjoying a nice Saturday morning) for 15’ watching the women’s race before mine. I mixed in 4x400W for 30” with 2’ easy spin, and to top it off, 2x600W for 30” with 2’ easy spin as recovery. I felt a tingle of soreness from the workout, but really ready for some action!
An easy lap when the women’s race finished refreshed my memory of the course, and we lined up at the start. A full field of 100 racers listened to John from 3rd Pillar give his memories of Kristy and Matt, and we did a neutral lap in their memory in silence. This whole event really hit me hard, I raced with Matt in the past couple races, and their memory lives strong in Nor-Cal cycling communities. RIP my friends. For some reason, some felt the need to gain position on the neutral lap??????????????
As far as teams, I was alone. Davis bike club had a couple members, as did Zteam and Chico Corsa (including my friend Colby Elliot (Chuck “Bodfish” Elliot’s Son)) but nothing like the stacked Dolce Vita or Roaring Mouse teams from Snelling or Merco RR.
The race started and a couple attacks went off, nothing solid. Lots of guys screaming “keep your line” in the turns, but I tried to stay in the top half of the field, especially when going into the hard chicane after the backside. The group would stack up and slow to an almost crawl if you were in the back, and the acceleration out cost a lot of energy. About half way into the race I found myself in the back half of the pack, and Colby went off the front. I would have gone with him, but I was too far back. He is a strong rider, and highly skilled from his days as a pro MTB racer. With another rider he could have succeeded, and I would have loved to been that person. Maybe we should have talked earlier! He got caught just as I moved up to the front and helped to catch a counter-attack of 3 riders when he was reeled in.
One thing about this race, the announcement sucked!! I didn’t know we had 5 laps to go until we were on our final lap!!! The pace picked up and 3rd Pillar moved up. I was about half pack (weened to around 70-80 riders.) On the back stretch I was able to move up a number of spots, and got a good line through the chicane. On the left after the chicane the 3rd Pillar rider in the lead crashed (and hard) and caused some riders to slow, moving me up again. Going into the the last right I had good line, and I sprinted out of it towards the right edge of the road. I passed a couple guys with about 200M to go, but found a wall of riders ahead. Luckily (?) a rider in front of me ran into the guy on his left opening a gap to his right, and I shot through it and continued to the line. I passed a number of people in the final straight, and ended up finishing 8th. An Alta Alpina rider won. The field sprint seemed slow to me as I put a lot of ground into the group, but I was just a little behind the action.
This race was much more comfortable than Menlo Park, the time I spent at the front was the easiest, and I felt I had a lot left in my tank at the end of the race. I spent too much time playing conservatively which I realize is against my best interest since I am alone and have nothing to lose and I really hate things being easy for myself or others! This race was much safer than Menlo Park as it was more technical, but there will still crashes as no-one likes to see. I’m still a total newbie to tactics, I was able to do well in Cat 5 thanks to my fitness, but Cat 4 requires more tactics and smarts. I hope to develop this over the next year and move up to Cat 3.
P.S. I wanted to thank Aaron for his amazing expertise in helping two of my friends get the perfect road (Giant OCR 1W) and mountain (Giant Trance X1) bikes. We represent*THE BEST* shop in town, and our results show it! It's an honor to ride for this shop and with the people on the team. Thank you to everybody! You have all made our single passion a team effort for excellence and it's an honor to ride with you!