By Dennis Pedersen
Last year I not only missed the start of my 45+ race, but also flatted near the end of the Category 3 race I did instead. This year things went more smoothly. Margaret and I drove up and I had plenty of time to get ready (she is getting good at pinning numbers even on my snug team skinsuit) and warm up a little.
I really like this race, partly because of the technical 6-turn course with a 10-second climb, about the same size as Watsonville's, to tire out the big guys a bit. And also because it's on San Francisco's waterfront with September's perfect weather. Even Margaret enjoys going to this race!
Our field of about 50 Masters included some big names, but I am used to that. I was a bit tense, but in a good way and my legs felt good even though the race started fast. We hit the small hill hard every lap, always in the big ring, but I was doing OK since the back straight allows me enough time to recover. There are a number of small potholes though, so we always had to stay very focused.
Margaret walked all over the course and cheered me on from a different spot every lap; that made me smile through my pain. What a great girl!
Our pace increased even more on the prime sprint laps... and went sky-high when Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) and Rich Juarez (VOS) snapped the cord as they worked their way off the front. Dang!
Morgan Stanley and VOS had the numbers to mount a chase, but VOS wasn't about to chase their own guy down. So Morgan Stanley, a few other guys and even I had to take a pull. But I could tell I'd be too tired if I stayed in the wind so I drifted back to rest. Morgan Stanley wasn't able to catch the escapees either, even with Eric Saltzman pulling, though we did get close a few times. With just a couple of laps to go I was forced to accept that my race was now a fight for 3rd.
On the last lap I actually led the pack a while when guys started holding back. Then I pulled off to the right, before the hill, to see who would go first. Two guys attacked past us and I powered up the small hill after them. I managed to catch them and now held 3rd wheel (not counting the two breakaways); I think it was Jeff Poulsen and his lead-out, but my memory may be faulty from lack of oxygen.
We flew down the long back straight. But the lead-out guy faded at turn 5, they hesitated, and that allowed several guys to swarm us. I got blocked in the turns, but I did get the chance to sprint up the wide-open final straight... only to get passed by a couple more. Man, my legs were done!
Still, 7th overall (5th in the field sprint) wasn't too bad in this group and a nice finish to my 2009 regular season. I think only one guy crashed in our race; not too badly. More proof these technical courses are safer.
And it turned out my LGBRC friend Erik Ostly had been out there without me noticing; I guess I was really focused. But he flatted out like I did last year. Afterward we had lunch at Waterfront Bar and Grill, just across the Embarcadero, in their covered outdoor seating. An Anchor Steam from the tap, nice seafood, a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge and my wife for company; a nearly-perfect close to my regular 2009 season!