Sunday, January 30, 2011

CCCX Road Race Jan. 30 45-Plus 1, 2, 3

By Geoff Drake

It took a real act of fortitude to do this one. I hardly slept because of the torrential rain pounding the skylight all night, and the drive south through Moss Landing was with the wipers on full, going 25 mph due to limited visibility.

Consequently, a bunch of teammates didn’t show, and I don’t blame them a bit. It was just me and Ken Sato from Team Bike Trip.

Ken and I agreed to alternate covering attacks. I also decided that after two laps, if no one else attacked, I would. And that’s how it panned out. I chose the big-gear hill on the back side of the course, because it looked like, with a strong attack, you could be out-of-site, out-of-mind.

I hit it hard and established a pretty good gap. This felt really good, until I thought about the implications: did I really think I could I hold this for four more laps? Fortunately, when I looked back, I could see a lone rider laboring across the gap. From the VOS jersey, and his small size, I knew it was Scott Hennessey. Good! I eased up ever so slightly, and he bridged. Then we put our heads down and got to work.

Ken, and Scott’s four VOS teammates, did some blocking for us. Every lap, at the top of the stair-step climb, Scott would say, “Hey, my eyes aren’t so good—can you look back and see how close they are?” Fortunately, after one lap, I couldn’t see anyone back there. So it was just a matter of keeping the focus, which we did. I’m not sure of the gap at the finish, but I think it was substantial. I was pretty worked, but had enough snap to cross the line first.

Afterward, I circled back to watch the field sprint, and was overjoyed to see Ken leading everyone up the finish hill. His handlebar had loosened dangerously on the last lap, and as he put it, “I knew I couldn’t sprint with a loose handlebar, so I had to break away.” Good choice! First and third for Team Bike Trip. It was a small field so I don't want to make too big a deal out of it, but it was fun and I tried to be aggressive.

1-30-11 Central Coast RR #1

Masters 45+1-3.

I have done hundreds of races over the last 25+ years and this was definitely one of the best. Don’t want to be too much of a wind bag. Only Geoff Drake and I were in attendance from the Trip and before the race our plan was for one of us to get away. The 55+ guys were combined but scored separately. I covered the first moves mostly by 55+ guys. At the start of the second lap I was off with one of the VOS 55+ers and I asked how he was feeling when he said not very good, I immediately sat up. Soon after that as we approached the steepest part of the climb Geoff launched a very good attack that was quickly bridged by another VOS 55+er, who I later found out is a former national champion. I immediately knew this was very good situation. I could just sit in 2nd or 3rd position, passively disrupting the chase and suck the wheel of anyone who tried to bridge. No organized chase really started. A few of the 45+ers would make some strong pulls but these were never followed up by others. On the final lap as we were on the steepest part of the climb I noticed that the stem faceplate that holds my bars was loosening. The smart thing would have been to abandon but instead I went on the attack, quickly opening a gap. I put my hands on the top of the bars as to not torque them, tried to stay relaxed and not look back. As I came to the finish line my bars had loosened considerably more but I did not need to sprint for 2nd. Congratulations Geoff.

I also raced the 35+ 1-3 event.

As expected the pace was considerably faster. I believe two Thirsty Bear guys including the super talented Chris Phipps escaped early and Michael Hernandez who is back on excellent form tried several times to bridge but each time the field accelerated to bring him back. On one of the laps I made the mistake of going near the back on the climb and quickly found myself having to close a huge gap into the wind. On the next lap Michael started yelling at me for not pulling through from about 4th position. On the last lap it was obvious we were not going to pull the break back and our pace really slowed. In retrospect, I should have attached again on the climb but wanted to see how my sprinting was. As we came down the final descent I had to brake to avoid coming to the front and put myself into second position on the outside into the final sprint. It all went pear shaped form there and I ended up last in what was left of the field but was happy with 8th out of 20 starters.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

San Bruno Mountain Hill Climb Saturday New Year's Day 2011

San Bruno Mountain Hill Climb
New Year's Day 2011
by Jim Langley

While we didn't get the Team Bicycle Trip/Symatec win we were looking for, Mark Edwards taking second in the super competitive  45+ 1/2/3 and Joe Platin taking second in the packed 55+ 4/5 field was an awesome way to kick-off the New Year and 2011 season.

I contributed, taking the last podium spot in the 55+ 1/2/3s. Also racing strong in Mark's race were Geoff Drake who finished 7th after a pack of 3 riders overtook him just before the line, Ken Sato in 9th and breaking into the elite 17-minute club) and Detlef Adam in 15th in his first race after a 17-year hiatus. Scott Martin took 13th in the 45+ 4/5s, one of the largest fields of the day.

Like the previous years I've done this fun race it was cold at the bottom and foggy enough toward the top that you weren't sure where the sprint marker or finish was. It's a 3.5-mile climb so it's about the length of the Felton Empire repeats we're all so fond of. But, near the halfway mark there's a right turn that drops you down into what I think is the San Bruno state park. So, you actually get a little descent to rest and get ready for the steep stretch the follows to the finish.

Mark said that it was shortly after this little dip that Cale Reeder put on the afterburners and blew the pack off his wheel. Mark chased but couldn't reel him in. It's the perfect place to do it if you've got the strength because it's bumpy and it kicks up again and your legs kind of quit on the descent and don't want to work again - at least so soon. In my race it's where Mac opened a tiny gap that he held to about 100 meters when Steve Archer sprinted around him for the win, while I could only hold my best pace to the line.

Joe's 55+ 4/5 race came down to him and Martin off the front. Joe held the lead and got clipped at the line by Martin Hyland who we are friends with from the Low Key Hill Climb series.

Here are some photos and captions. The podium shots are from Carl Nielson who finished 3rd in Mark's race and saved the say since the battery died in my Canon and Ken's cellphone's camera was clouded from being in his pocket.

This is what you want to see at the end of the race: an almost-empty parking lot with your  team's vehicles still unloaded because you have to wait for the podium ceremony. It was Ken's brilliant idea to bring the tent and we were sure we'd need it, driving up there in the pouring rain at 6:30 a.m. But, by the time we got there it had stopped raining so the tent was just insurance and a nice way to show our team presence. Thanks to Paul Sadoff and Rock Lobster for letting us use it!

Cale Reeder (center), Mark Edwards and Carl Nielson: 45+ podium

The 55+ 4/5 podium: Winner Martin Hyland, Joe Platin and Daryl Nelson

55+ 1/2/3 Steve Archer winner, Mac Carey and me.