"Ride with confidence and believe you can win and deserve to win with all the hard work and dedication." (Bruce to Joe the night before the Pescadero Road Race).
I always promised Dennis that if I win, I'll write the darn thing. I won yesterday's 55+ Cat 4 race at Pescadero so here it is:
The strategy was simple. Since my race would be grouped with the Cat 1-2-3's but scored separately, I would keep near the front in a combined field of about 70 riders and work hard to go with the leaders on the climbs. Work hard? You mean, bury yourself to stay with those animals. Their ages don't mean much when it comes to racing their bikes. I got over Haskins first go with the lead group of about 11 riders and noticed I was the only cat 4 rider present. So far so good! To my dismay though, a determined bunch eventually caught back on, including two cat 4's. Darn, won't be so easy after all. Second pass on Stage road was brutal for me, but I had to stay with the leaders, make it to Haskins before my competitors, then truly bury myself for the finish. I tried attacking a couple of times on the flat stretch of road to draw my competitors out of the pack, or maybe just sneak away. That didn't work as the others easily reeled me in. We were racing as a group after all. Jim (bless his soul and wisdom) came up to me, "Get back here, settle down, stop talking too and rest! Yikes, he's right! I expressed my anxiety of just wanting to get to Haskins and then launch. As we approached the final assault Jim moved to the front, ramped up the pace and I slipped in behind 3rd wheel. I knew what he was doing and it worked. How lucky I was to have an experienced and seasoned team mate in the race! We rounded the corner onto the final climb and I stepped on what little gas I had. I heard Jim shout out "go Joe!" Again, I was with the leaders but fell off their pace midway up the climb. Then the motorcycle ref pulled up along side and said, "Good job". "What's the gap to the nearest cat 4", I gasped. "Not huge, but plenty big enough." Having learned some very painful lessons this year getting nipped on the line, I didn't let up. I concentrated on the riders ahead trying to catch them. It worked.
Big shout out to Jim Langley for his tremendous support in the race, both with his bike and his tactical wisdom and sensibility!