By Dennis Pedersen
I heard that this revival of a classic criterium, from the 70s, was on an exciting, technical course with a small hill too. My favorite kind! So Russ, Joe, Eddy, John Schaupp and I took the line on a gorgeous, 66-degree, sunny day in downtown Pacific Grove (after Margaret and I took a quick visit to the nearby aquarium!).
The 7/10ths-mile course (for 40 minutes) was west on Lighthouse Avenue, two fast rights down Caledonia and onto Central Avenue, up the hill on Fountain Avenue and back on Lighhouse. Wind was forecast at 10 to 15 MPH.
The pace was pretty fast right from the start, in part because there were 10 prime sprints! At about 20 minutes in a breakaway group formed, but Russ was probably too tired to cover it, and I was too far back to react quickly enough in any case. Just as we got to the start/finish I saw them dropping down toward turn 1.
I was working hard... and noticed a weird sight: One of the awnings next to the course was tilting over toward us, lifted by the rising wind. I barely got by it! I looked back and saw it lying on the course! I didn't see anybody down, but the next few laps were under a yellow flag which confused us chasers.
Soon we got down to the task of chasing and I took several big pulls at the front, though blockers (from Safeway and VOS I think) disrupted our efforts some. Still, we seemed to be making progress and when our pace slowed I moved to the front to look ahead; maybe we'd caught them? But when Eric Saltzman (of Morgan Stanley) launched around me while I was on the front I inferred that somebody was still up ahead.
We started to wind it up and soon I was nearing my limit. Don Langley (Morgan Stanley) suddenly jumped up Fountain and soon even the downhill was hard with the headwind and gaps in our pack. Guys started squeezing in, jumping ahead, etc. Crazy like usual! But we stayed clean and I was happy to just be up there at all.
The last lap I was on Russ's wheel for a bit, which helped as the pack was strung out pretty well. So the final sprint up the hill cemented our positions pretty much; I maintained my 10th place around the last turn and across the finish line. Russ took 8th. VOS's Rich Juarez won solo for the second time in a week. Ed and John were DNF but John had been cheering us on from turn 4.
But where was Joe? Bad news: The ambulance I saw at start/finish was for him. The awning that had flipped onto the course behind me had hit him, taking him down with a broken collarbone.
After cleaning up, getting ice cream at Lappert's on Lighthouse Drive (an amazing collection of 60s albums and posters cover the walls), we swung by CHOMP to visit Joe. The orthopedic surgeon said he recommended surgery to fix the break, but Joe could probably go home that night. We had dinner with Larry & Priscilla and Nils at Sea Harvest in Moss Landing, then dropped off Joe's Jeep at The Buttery. I hope he's doing well soon.
Monterey Herald story.