Coyote Creek Circuit Race Report (45+ & 4's)
By Eddy Price
Yesterday four of us (myself, Joe Platin, Dennis Pederson and Bob Montague) raced in the 45+ open category at the Coyote Creek Circuit Race in South San Jose. Dennis was the obvious choice for our leader and protected rider as he won the 35+ 4/5 race last year and is our best sprinter by far. One hour after finishing the 45+ race, I competed in the open Cat 4 event.
The race was a 45 minute timed event on a 1.8 mile clockwise loop starting with a gradual one hundred foot climb followed by a fast drop, two consecutive right hand turns leading to a very long straight run followed by another two right hand turns and finishing near the top of the hill.
The race started very fast but settled down after 20 minutes and everyone seemed content to contest a bunch finish. I felt comfortable on the climb riding the smallest gear I could and never used the big chainring on the hill till the last three laps. Joe and Dennis were always near the front, Bob was somewhere in the middle of the pack and I sat at the back of the pack. Every time I moved up riders would force their way around me and very soon I was at the back again, wasting a lot of energy in the process and having nothing to show for it. Because there were only four turns on a very long loop, there was very little whiplash effect at the back and that is where I stayed for most of the race.
Joe's job was to stay near the front of the race and watch over Dennis who was always in the top five to ten. I figured Bob and myself could do something near the end of the race; leading Dennis out for the sprint, closing the gap to a lead group or attacking solo to incite the group to chase and giving Dennis a free ride during the chase.
With three laps to go there was a small break up the road and sensing hesitation in the pack, I went hard up the left side of the road and crested the top of the hill alone. One rider bridged the gap to me and shouted "let's work together and stay away" and we entered the long straight section of the course together. Very soon Dennis bridged up to us with the pack chasing a few seconds back. I went one more time down the left side of the road but was quickly countered by my breakaway companion and Dennis. The pack caught us near the end the straight and it was all for nothing. I was totally spent by the effort and knew there was nothing left in my legs for the sprint but I would rather finish last in the group helping someone on my team as compared to riding just for myself and going for a top 15 finish.
The last two laps are still a bit foggy in my head (maybe oxygen depletion in the brain!) but I know Bob went to the front and pulled the pack along at 30 miles per hour on the long straight back section of the course. I know Dennis finally bridged up to the small break on the last lap but then everyone in the break sat up and waited for the main group.
Dennis had wasted a lot of energy in that chase but still had a top six placing in his legs when the lead-out rider for Webcore-Alto Velo pulled left and suddenly slowed down right in front of Dennis, cutting Dennis' front tire and taking him out of contention. The lead-out rider claimed he was tired and had nothing left in his legs to pedal but it seemed to me that he hit is brakes because of how fast he slowed down. He did not gradually slow down like you do when you stop pedaling, he slowed down really fast and Dennis had no chance to react. Webcore-Alto Velo had the most riders of any team in the race and they also have the fastest sprinters. They shouldn't need to resort to dirty and dangerous tactics during the sprint.
I am not sure of how Dennis finished but I am sure he would have been in the top six, Joe was in the top twenty and Bob and myself finished in the bunch. We covered ten laps (18 miles) in 43 minutes for a 24.2 mile per hour average and one thousand feet of climbing.
I felt good that we actually animated the race and executed team tactics "on the fly". Without actually planning a reaction to very race situation, we worked together perfectly as the race unfolded, reacting "on the spot" when the need arose without hesitation or "analysis to paralysis".
As temperatures soared to the low 90's I lined up with close to 100 riders for the start of the Elite 4 race. My legs were not as sharp as the previous race and the pace was much faster. We covered ten laps in 41 minutes for a 24.7 mile per hour average and at the end I had nothing left in the tank and finished near the back of the main group.
I had pre-entered a third race, the 35+ 4/5 race starting two hours later. The temperatures were approaching the high 90's by now. I warmed up on the rollers for 30 minutes but felt so spent, I called it a day and drove home. If the temperatures were a bit cooler I would have had a chance at that third race. Riding almost an hour and a half at 24.5 miles per hour was all my body could take.
I have two weeks until the State Championship Criterium in Minden Nevada. I will be racing in the 50-55 category. It is too bad that the road race is the day before the Crit because the last time I raced the Districts, the Crit was first and the Road Race was second. Riding a Crit the day before a Road Race doesn't tired you out, in fact a short fast effort when you are rested is the perfect warm-up for a Road Race but not the other way around and if I have any chance of finishing the Crit with the main group and not get pulled as a lapped rider, I will need to be fresh. I finished 15th in the District Crit in 2006 and was the last official finisher, so my goal is a top 15 finish again.
Thanks for reading!