Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Panoche Valley Road Race, 45+1/2/3

By Russ Cadwallader

One thing that should be understood is that I'm a roofer. I work in the valley. Heat was my friend until this race. It was super flippin' hot.

Started out with an attack off the line from Hunter Z. Attacks off and on all the way up by Jon O, Jan (the VOS attack team) and the Morgan Stanley crew. I stayed forward up the climb doing some work. Almost crashed when a Morgan Stanley rider had to swerve. I was overlapping his wheel, (a no no).

At the turn around I had dropped back. A very bad move, because there was a brake of 8 riders at the turn around. I rode up the double yellow yelling for people to work with me to close the gap but most of the riders up front were saying that they had someone in the break. However, I did recruit Mike Gadow (Tieni Duro). Both of us took some real hard long pulls. Brought the gap down to less than 50 seconds. Did have JD, a Morgan Stanley rider and fellow friend do some really good work as we headed towards the top.

Just before we got to the top, Jan from VOS went to bridge across the gap. I went with him, but half way out I was too toasted from the work I had done, so I fell back to the chase group. Mike & I were now pissed that no one would work. We really picked the tempo up and brought the chase group down to 10 or so.

The heat was really getting to us. When we got to the top water station we all grabbed water. Most of the bottles were only a quarter filled. This was the start of the real pain. Then a super nasty crash right in front of me. We were railing thru the sharpest turn on the down hill and Stefano Schiaffino didn't think he was going to make it and braked. He went sailing off the road at high speed, slid on gravel, rolled into and out of the drainage gutter and flipped into a bob-wire fence. He got hurt! After that we were down to 8.

Motor ref. kept riding up and telling me that the gap was 50 seconds. I was now in a dream state of mind. I looked over at Mike G and his face and jersey were covered in salt, kinda looked like frost. I said Mike, your face is covered in salt. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, Russ you face is covered in salt too. This was weird. Started feeling like I might stroke-out or something.

Finally on the flats at the bottom, others started to work. Every one of us was out of water with several miles to go. Mike and I were really blasted by the time we got to the finish. However, we both by some act of god dug down and sprinted. We took 3rd and 4th in the chase group sprint. Normally not good, but with all the work we did, I thought that was very cool. Eric Saltzman won the race. I ended up 12th.

As normal, anyone wearing a bike trip jersey raced well in this race. However, gotta say way to go to Amy & Michele, (2nd & 3rd). Knew you could do it Amy. Michele, I'm sorry, but you had an off day if you didn't win.

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