Monday, April 15, 2013
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium XLV, 45+ 1/2/3, 4/14/2013
By Dennis Pedersen
I never feel too optimistic about this technical race in my home town, but I do enjoy it anyway! Now in its 45th year, and my 9th try, I know the 9-turn course on Santa Cruz's historic Beach Hill like no other; it is not a sprinter's course at all with its hairpin, many turns, hills and wind.
I always try to get my wife, family and friends to come out to spectate and this year I succeeded again. It is truly cool to have people yell your name from the side of the course as you suffer through yet another attack from those crazies up ahead!
It sure felt fast, as always; our average speed was over 26 MPH (assuming 20 laps, each 9/10ths of a mile, in 40 minutes). Several times I was close to giving up but then I'd get a few short breaths to recover and feel like I could eke out another lap. A few laps I had to let the leaders pull away so I could recover, but every time I managed to find the strength, and openings in the pack, to move back to the front.
Unbeknownst to me Larry Nolan and a guy from PrimeTime somehow managed to pull away from everybody for several laps. Mind-boggling. Anyway, their teammates blocked for a while (one of them aggressively, I'm told) but Larry dropped him later on and was holding a nice lead over us, barely.
Well, I was getting a bit weak, and on the last lap I tried unsuccessfully to move ahead... it's hard to steer safely when you're cross-eyed from effort. Max Mack nearly came to an unpleasant end in the gutter just before the hairpin, but I don't think anybody ever crashed in our race. One side of me kept trying to advance while the other side of me kept advising to keep 1% in reserve for the sprint. It never seems to work here and I was still a ways back, maybe 20th as we rounded the final turn.
But I did see Larry win up ahead, just ahead of Patrick Briggs and Steve Heaton, just as I finished, feeling surprisingly strong, in 16th place, so for me it was a personal success! Even better was cheering on Nils and others in the Pro/1/2 race, and getting together with friends afterward and celebrating another gorgeous day of racing.
A journalist wrote a nice race article in the Sentinel too (I'm in photo #2). And Margaret took a bunch of photos that I have saved to a Snapfish album.
I guess I'll be back next year!