Conrad Snover (4)
Wards Ferry Road Race is in Sonora, CA, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. The race course is on a fun, rolling, 12 mile circuit on quiet country roads. The only problem with roads like this is that they’re not maintained very well and are rough, with many potholes. This road surface caused many problems for our team.
We had solid representation: Paul, Justin, Gary, Nick, Nate, and I, and it was a great experience for us to race together.
I’ve had a mixed season, placing well about half the time, and getting shelled the other half. This race I was determined to sit in and do no work until the finish. That plan ended 5 miles in when the pack came around a corner to find a pickup truck blocking our way (with Nick sitting in the back- read on). We swerved to avoid it, and I pinch-flatted my front tire after hitting a pothole. I stood on the side of the road with my front wheel in the air, hoping the pickup would be coming around the corner and I could grab a wheel. About a minute later, I put the wheel back on- still flat, and rode about 100 yards to the corner where I traded wheels with some dude on the side of the road. Now I was about 3-4 minutes down, and I hammered at max HR to catch up. Fortunately for me, the pack was going slow, and 12 miles later I was cooked, but back on. I hung on with the leaders as best I could, but was dropped on the last climb, finishing 8th, just out of the points. BALLS!
Paul McKenzie (4)
I rolled with the Elite 4 group as there was no Master’s group for me. Good and bad. Bad in that I race with guys that are half my age. Good in that I get to race with my teammates (who are more or less half my age). We rolled out at a moderate pace for the 4 lap race. I was able to hang with the group for the first two laps and even punch to the front for the descents, where I like to be. Bumpy course and bottles popping out everywhere.
At one point I noticed Conrad was gone. Where could he be? He was arguably our guy with the best chance for a decent finish. Turns out he hit a pothole early and flatted unbeknown to his teammates. If we were a Pro Tour team, the three of us would have been called back on the radio to wait for him and bring him back. But as it was he had to grab a wheel from another rider on the side of the road and fight back on his own. Pretty awesome he was able to do that, and still battle with the lead group at the finish for 8th place!
Me? I made it two laps with the front group, then got blown off the back. I tempo’d in, and finished 29th out of about 50. I did everything right, just don’t have the fitness. Great training on a beautiful, if a bit rough, course. Looking forward to the next race!
Justin Thomas (3)
First road race of season and first road race in MANY years. Felt okay during first 3 laps of 4 lap course. Per Nick and Nate’s advice, I stayed near the front of the pack to avoid any mishaps or large breaks. Tried to break away with another competitor on 3rd lap (who ended up solo’ing to win) on top of longest climb but got reeled in on following descent (maybe I should try and gain some weight?). With Conrad’s help I tried to bridge to the leader for a second and third time but had nothing left in the tank. Soft pedaled to finish b/c I was completely spent. All in all, fun race but I felt left out b/c I didn’t get a flat tire-just flat legs.
Nate Freed (3)
For me, the Wards Ferry racing weekend was bittersweet. It was nice to spend some time with various members of the squad, learn more about them, and share stories from our separate races. On the other hand, it is a bit discouraging to feel so great and well prepared for a race, then finish poorly due to mechanical issues. Oh well, that is racing… Since I raced here last year, I had a pretty good idea about what to expect from the course and the competition. It is a 12 mile loop of very skinny, rough back roads with a rolling stage profile, not much flat riding at all. I tried to keep myself out of harm’s way by sitting in the top 15 for the majority of the race. The rapid pace(and rough roads) whittled the Cat. 3 field down to about 20 by the time we had completed four laps. I kept a watchful eye on my competition, and it seemed that the high tempo was starting to take a toll on almost all of them. At this point I was still feeling very strong, which was a first for me this season. A few guys had taken chances going off the front during the race, but since our pace was already fast, they could not stay away for long. Knowing this, my plan was just to hang in the top 5 or so until the end and sprint for the uphill finish. Everything was going according to plan, but UNFORTUNATELY I flatted with about 5 mi. to go. I jumped off my bike, changed to my spare tube as quickly as possible, but it was much too late in the race to have any prayer of catching the leaders. While I was changing the flat, I did take notice of the Cat. 3s that passed me by, and I probably caught and passed the majority of them in the last 5 mi. before the finish. I ended up in around 28th. Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend because Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing represented with 6 out of 12 members of the team. I look forward to the next few weeks when our numbers will be even higher…
Conrad Snover (4): 8th (flat)
Paul McKenzie (4): 29th
Justin Thomas (4): 20th(?)
Gary Mandy (4): 20th(?)
Nate Freed (3): 28th (flat)
Nick Schaffner (3): DNF (flat)