Pescadero Road Race 55+ Report
By Ed Price
I felt like quitting the Pescadero Road Race (held June 19th, 2010) after only 15 minutes of racing, right then and there, on the second climb of Stage Road. I felt like quitting again on the second lap of the race on the exact same part of the course, the second climb of Stage Road.
But, the real low point was when I lost contact with the second group of about 18 riders on the feed hill before our first ascent of Haskins, starting the big climb 20 seconds behind the last rider with the lead riders completely out of sight.
But that low was nothing compared to losing the timing chain on my Volvo wagon on the drive home, near the San Mateo County line. Interference engine? Never heard of it.. Well..., if the timing chain breaks or comes off (like mine did), the valves open when they should close and/or close when they should open, meaning $3000 of engine work to replace the bent valves. Money I don't have at the moment.
Getting back to the race, here I was off the back of the second group even before the climb of Haskins even started. The thought of riding the whole second lap alone inspired me to try and catch at least one rider from my group. This I accomplished fairly quickly, which inspired me to push even harder. I caught another rider, then another, and then I caught a small group of three riders, then four riders. Slowly I worked my way up to the three leaders of my group with 2 K to go, and I went over the top of Haskins first place in the second group and even though I lost contact again on the first descent of Stage Road on the second lap, that effort made the day worthwhile to me.
My race (55+) was full at 75 riders. The organizers combined the 55+ riders with the 45+ 4/5 "B" field. I finished in 20th place out of 25 finishers in the 55+ category, one place behind J.D. Gilford but I am not sure how I finished overall (out of the 75 starters).
I am not a poor descender by any means, in fact, I am a pretty good descender when I want to be, but on that day, I wasn't in the zone, and you know what I mean, when you are in the descending zone, riding downhill is pure fun. You can see the right lines to take through the corners as if they are painted on the road. The road seems eight lands wide, even if it is very narrow. The camber seems to always be helping you even if it's reversed. Sand and gravel are nothing more than an opportunity to put more time on those behind you. Your tires seen glued to the road. No negative thoughts fill your head like; a front tire blow out, a cat or dog running across your path, a car coming towards you in the wrong lane or a car on a blind corner, sand, gravel, rocks, tree limbs.
But on that day, the zone was not to be found. A close call with a pickup truck on a blind corner didn't help matters and along with several sections of gravel and getting stuck behind a poor descender.
This year's edition of the Pescadero Road Race was held in cool-overcast weather with very little wind. The 55+ race filled up, and along with some 45+ Cat 4 riders, our field was full at 75. The only thing more frustrating than being left by the group on a climb is to be drooped on the descent. This happened to me twice on exactly the same part of the race route, the first descent of Stage Road .
Last year, the 55+ race went out at a moderate pace on the first climb of Stage Road. I was able to get to the top of the hill in 3rd or 4th place, leaving me time to drift back a bit in the group. By the bottom of the descent I was last but not off the back and I easily made it over the second climb of Stage Road.
This year the pace was pretty fast from the start and on the first climb up Stage Road I was at my limit, hitting the top in around 30th place (about mid-way in the pack). By the time we reached the bottom, I was 100 yards back from the main group of around 40. I felt like quitting right then and there. I regained my composure when 12 to 15 riders caught me from behind on the second climb of Stage Road.
On the feed hill before Haskins I was drooped by the second group but I worked my way up to the leaders by the top. Most of my group caught on by the bottom of the climb and we headed back to Pescadero High School. I saw a group up the road, it was the 45+ open race, probably taking it easy before the final showdown on Haskins. I wasn't paying attention when my group went right through the field and were 200 yards up the road. The ref was watching me very closely so I tried a solo bridge to my group but couldn't sustain it. Riding 30 yards off the back, the 45+ group eventually caught my group at the bottom of the first ascent of Stage Road and I was back in business again.
You know the "rest of the story", I lost contact with that second group on the first descent of Stage Road, fought all the way to the finish, catching three riders from that second group and finished in 20th place.