By Dennis Pedersen
I knew I was running a tight schedule, but I was still shocked when I checked my watch, just seconds after jumping on my stationary trainer to warm up for this race in the rolling hills of Fort Ord; only two minutes before the 9:40 AM start time! Instead, my warmup consisted of me sprinting into the headwind to the start line!
Fortunately the previous race was running a bit late and I had time to settle in for the start. This was on the new "Seaside" course, a single section of road with a U-turn at either end on gently rolling hills (3 miles per lap). The weather was a bit gray and mid-50s, with a fairly strong wind out of the Monterey Bay just to the southwest. The field was only 15 riders, which I like.
The race unfolded somewhat like CCCX #2 did for me, with the riders being strong enough to catch guys, like me, who tried to break away from the pack, but unwilling to try it themselves with just a few exceptions. And with the strong wind it was impossible to break away on the southwest-bound half of the course.
I tried to form a plan with a rider from Peninsula Velo, but he didn't understand that I wanted to attack with him with the tailwind on a climb because of the advantage that would give us... actually it's more that there's no draft for others to latch onto with a tailwind on a climb, thus we'd be making it harder for them to follow us. Anyway, it didn't work, though several of us did keep trying to bring the pace up at times. The guys from Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Taleo) made some nice attempts too. At other times I was at the front riding into the headwind as slowly as I could, with nobody willing to go around... a lot like a match sprint at the velodrome!
For the finish I tried to learn from CCCX #2, where Keith outsprinted me. This time I just stayed about fifth place through the last U-turn (barely avoiding a guy who slid out just behind me), held back a bit up the last climb while others jumped, and then launched my own attack on the 'step' just before the climb steepens up to the finish line... it worked beautifully and I was even able to look back a couple of times and raise up my hands in victory!