Pine Flat Road Race 45+ 4/5 - 2/20/2011
By Scott Martin
I knew I wasn't in Santa Cruz anymore when a race official on a motorcycle pulled alongside our pack at the Pine Flat Road Race and said, We're going to neutralize this descent because there are two cowboys on horseback trying to rope a steer that's in the road.
Adventures like this are part of what appeals to me about these faraway races. (It's sure not the getting-up-at-3-a.m. part.) Throw in fresh snow on the surrounding hills, and you have one memorable event.
Pine Flat, in the Sierra foothills near Fresno, is a 62-mile race with 2,800 feet of climbing, most of which comes in the final 10 miles.
My race (the 45+ 4/5s) was uneventful till about the halfway point when a Taleo guy attacked while blatantly crossing the double-yellow line. It was a good move that seemed doomed, but we never saw him again.
After some effective blocking by the many Taleo riders, the pace heated up when we hit the big climb. The field of 40-some racers shattered and I found myself struggling to stay in the top 20. But I didn't panic and remembered the old saying, "Where there's a wheel, there's a way."
Five or six riders were gone for good, but I tagged onto a little group and we started catching stragglers as we hit the finish climb. I was feeling okay and attacked at the 200-meter sign. Note: 200 meters is a long way on an 8% grade. Two guys passed me and I limped in for 10th.