Madera Stage Race Report 55+ Open
March 12 & 13, 2011
By Jim Langley
I wrote a novel about this race the only other time I did it, so if you want every last detail about this classic event that's taken place now for 25 years, head here. In short, it's a stage race, meaning that to win it, you have to finish the 3 races over 2 days in the least amount of time. On Saturday is a morning 20-mile 4-corner flat crit, and in the afternoon, a 10-mile time trial. On Sunday is a 51-mile road race (3 laps).
Surprising, this year was a lot like the last time. Only I had a new 55+ teammate in the pack, Bob Montague - who I will now call Monsta-gue for his monster efforts over the weekend. In the criterium Bob rode toward the front going into the decisive laps of the race giving me a great rest for 2 full laps. This recharged my legs and I was able to lead out the sprint from the last corner barely missing the win. Mark Caldwell and his teammate Brian Fessenden just got me on the line. But I took 3 and Bob had a nice finish too. Note to self: 'you should have put on that 11-23!'
Next came the TT with Bob and I on our pedestrian bicycles compared to the full-on aero rigs everybody else shows up on. Bob had borrowed Ben Jacques-Maynes TT wheels, though, so he had a little help and rode an awesome time finishing the day in the top 10 on the overall leaders' board. My TT was not so good and I found myself in 14th overall, and not very happy about it. Because I ran my watt meter and I know I rode strong. But, it's giving too much away not to have the full aero setup. I kept thinking of that quote from The Untouchables about bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Sunday was the road race, which takes place about 10 miles out of Madera on a course with the worst 7-mile stretch of pavement this side of Paris-Roubaix. Still, we had an uneventful first lap. Bob and I had talked about not sitting in, but doing something since we were back a bit in the overall. So, on the second lap, on the backside of the course where there are a couple of little rollers, I went to front and hit the gas and strung the group out single file for a few minutes - good little L5 just like UCSC Wednesdays, baby.
Then, when the group bunched back together and I took a breather, just like a pro, Bob shot up the left side of the pack, went off the front and immediately opened a nice gap. The race overall leader who had absolutely crushed the TT, sent his teammate up to mark Bob, but Bob only increased the gap.
Meanwhile, I was getting a nice easy-chair ride as the pack couldn't get organized. No one was sure who Bob was or if he was a threat. Finally, not being able to close an inch on Bob, and nobody willing to take any real pulls, Mark Caldwell started stirring the pot by jumping off the front and telling the other guys to follow him. Still, the pack didn't run Bob down until we had hit the awful cobble-like section.
As soon as the leaders in the pack caught Bob, I rocketed up the left side of the road full tilt, everything I had, killing my legs. The noise from my wheels slamming into the ruts and cracks was awful, but I did not want anyone to go with me and I knew they had to be tired from chasing down Bob so I figured that the faster, louder and more violent it was the better. I didn't think they'd let me go for long since a lot of these guys were there 2 years ago when I rode off the front and won the RR.
Long story short, it worked like a charm and I won the RR again. It was really close. Like he had with Bob, Mark rallied the troops but I held them off by maybe 20 seconds (best guess). I didn't get enough time to make the overall podium, but I did take a hard-fought and pretty strategic 3rd in the crit and I did win the road race - both thanks to some outstanding help from Mr. Monsta-gue. Thanks Bob!
PS: So, the results just went live and they show the RR finishing ST which didn't happen, and they don't have Bob's RR finish, and have his place completely wrong. So don't put any stock in their results. There were only 3 podium spots anyway and they got those right. I guess that's all that matters - to them maybe.