By Dennis Pedersen
I've done this race before and felt it would be a nice change from my usual intervals... many of them on hotel gym stationary bikes lately. Yak! Larry and I carpooled, with his wife Priscilla and their sheltie Sam. Very nice!
We were in the same race, though he was in the 55+ group, and I was in the 45+ group. But we both knew it would be hard to work together, and Larry just needed to watch the guys in 55+ so we didn't make any plans.
This 4-corner flat race course, with some extra curves on the back straight, always seems to have strong winds as it is along some of the last open fields in Pleasanton. Each turn tends to open up gaps in the peloton as the wind shifts and hits guys who were sheltered before the turn, disrupting their pacing. The pavement is fairly good though.
At the start line I looked around and was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Chris... plus Larry Nolan and other hot shots.
The first few laps were very nice, probably because the prime-sprint laps hadn't started and because two guys went for an early breakaway that kept the rest of us reluctant to burn matches so soon trying to bridge up to them... likely with a string of sausages in tow.
The strong wind hit us hard from the right after turn 2 every lap, just where a center divider jutted out, so it was always a bit scary there. Then it would hit us from the left front after the last turn which would mean that the sprinters would benefit from a leadout to shelter them. Fortunately all of this resulted in an increasing pace that kept the pack strung out in double file, especially as $30 prime laps were announced. Yes, that left me gasping for breath, but it also was safer and there were no crashes. Cool!
At one point I passed Larry just as he sat up exhausted. He was done! I tried to give him my wheel as I closed the gap ahead of him, but it's hard to come back from blowing up in a fast race.
At some point three more guys took off; I thought we'd caught the first two, but it turned out they were still out there. Darn. But the fast pace made bridging nearly impossible.
Another bigger gap opened up later and I worked really hard to stay with the lead chase group. Whee! Made it! I also pulled Chris with me which was cool. I make a point of watching him and held his wheel at times. He does a lot of the same intervals we do and it shows.
With about one lap to go we caught the three chasers and sprinted for 3rd place. Chris took 6th and I took 13th. We chatted later and he had to remind me, once again, that I'm better off being at 95% and well positioned than at 75% and blocked in. Sigh.
The two guys in the successful break also had a chat; the winner had sat on the leader's wheel for five laps only to pip him at the line. Kind of dishonorable and I like to think I would have resisted the temptation. But I'm weak so who knows? Heck, the leader could have sat up if he didn't want to risk being so ill-used, huh.
But I digress... We had so much fun that Larry and I agreed to climb Mtn. Charlie up to the summit as an interval on the way home. Yikes! At least the weather was perfect!