Bike Racing and Burritos
Andy Scott: Masters 35+1/2/3
I got gapped on the 3rd (of 4) times up the ‘3 bears’ climbs. I thought I would chase back on the long descent w/ some other folks, but it was just me and 2 other guys in purgatory and the lead group was *gone* hammering away into the last lap/attacking/chasing/etc. Amazing how quickly a 10 second gap can turn into minutes.
Me and the other 2 guys were joined by 6 others. The 9 of us rode the final 15 miles at a “we’ll be the next 9 guys to finish” pace (i.e. fast enough to not get joined by those behind, but not nearly fast enough to catch those up the road)
At the base of the finish climb I followed a skinny climby dude who rode away from our little group and sucked his wheel to the line. I’m guessing I was twenty or maybe thirty something (60+? in our field)
My first Berkley RR: awesome weather, roads, course and set-up, highly recommend it (70+ miles and 6k feet climbing packed into what ends up feeling like a really fast race)
Extra excitement: two guys went down right in front of me in a silly early mid-pack crash – one guy’s bike (front wheel) bounced off my shoulder as I slid by (it shot up in air when his body hit the road). These things are still novel to me (apologies to grizzled race vets)
Fighting a post-race bonk fog Nick and I combined enough random data points to hone in on a quad-size burrito at the Fairfield Chipotle. As Tenacious D says “that’s f—in’ teamwork”
Conrad Snover: Masters 35+1/2/3
After attending the Truckee Hospital’s Cancer Center fund raiser and staying up until midnight, I woke up at 3:15am to meet Nick and get on the road by 3:30am. Seriously second-guessing the intelligence of this schedule, I checked with Nick to make sure he wasn’t going just because I was. If he was, I’d have suggested we skip it and go back to bed. Unfortunately for me, he wanted to go, and we made record time to the San Pablo Dam. The weather called for 80 degrees, so even though it was a brisk morning, I’ve learned to leave the extra clothing in the car, and didn’t even wear an undershirt. While I was cold on the neutral start and the first descent, I was plenty warm after about 5 minutes.
After a brisk start and a few breaks that I covered but that didn’t get away, the group settled into a rhythm: reasonable tempo around the loop, and super-hot pace up the 2 climbs at the end of each lap. We started with a field of 65, but Chris Phipps, who’s on fire and has won every race I’ve been to this year, absolutely lit it up on each climb, whittling down the size of the group on each lap. On our third of four times up the big climb that crosses the finish line, Phipps went exceptionally hard and shattered the field, but ex-US Postal Service rider Dylan Casey and I were able to grab onto his wheel over the top.
Over the huge descents and rollers, Casey didn’t help once. Since I’m slow and not much help, the field was slowly reeling us back in. Phipps rode up to me and said “the field is closing, and it’s just you and me, do you want to go for it?” to which I responded: “well if we try, and they catch, then I’ll probably be so tired I’ll get last place, but I’m game to do whatever”. We agreed to try a while longer with 30 second pulls but just a few pulls later, he looks at me and says “they’re right there, let’s just wait until the finish climb”. As we rounded the bottom of the loop, Specialized threw out a series of well executed attacks, with 2 guys eventually getting away. I was worked, so sat in the pack toward the front and ignored them all; the disadvantage of not having a big team. Morgan Stanley went to the front and laid down a mean effort, bringing them back. The field stretched out into single file and we rode over 30mph up the back stretch. I sat in line and was pleasantly pulled along; the advantage of being in a race with a large team.
As we entered the bear’s lair the last time, I was sitting in the middle near the front, which blocked me from joining Phipps when he launched his race winning attack, followed again by Dylan Casey. I’m not sure I could have stayed with them, but in retrospect, it would have been nice to try. I stayed in the group, and covered the front as we started up the final 1 mile 7% climb.
Someone went for it and I jumped on his wheel. By halfway up, the rest of the field had dropped back. I charged as hard as I could to stay with him, but the cramp-twinges rippling up my quads prevented me from holding on and he gapped me slightly, relegating me to 4th place. I’m pleased with the result, and congratulate Nick on the wisdom of wanting to go.
I always reflect on what I could have done better, so here are this week’s thoughts:
- Dug deeper to try and stay away with Chris and Dylan
- Made sure I wasn’t blocked into the group when we hit the final climbs, so I could go with the decisive attacks
- Dug deeper on the uphill climb sprint to the finish
Congrats to the other CWC racers who were out there: Paul raced the young guys in 35+4/5 and had a solid mid-pack finish, Nick raced P/1/2 but wasn’t recovered after the Gila and packed it in 1 lap early and Andy was mixing it up with me and finished front/mid pack.
After the race, Paul and I had a terrific and scenic route through Moraga, up Canyon, along Skyline and down Wildcat. The views from Skyline across the Bay to SF and Marin were absolutely unbelievable. We finished it up right with beers and HUGE burritos at Picante in Berkeley; a perfect day.
Nick Schaffner: P/1/2
Chipolte may have been my favorite part of the day. Crack addict reality show star turned pro-cyclist Chad Gerlach made his return to racing on American soil at Berkeley. I wasn’t feeling so hot from the start, so my plan was sit in the entire race, and sprint the field for 40th – 75th place.
As soon as the ref blew the whistle to end the neutral rollout, Cal-Giant attacked, followed by Z-team, followed by Webcor, followed by Chad Gerlach, followed by about 10 other dudes. I knew as soon as it happened that it was the move to go with. However I made the decision to bridge up about 30 seconds too late. I spent the next 3 laps trying in vain to make it up to the breakaway. I was joined and/or followed wheels repeatedly of Team Lombardi (who wasn’t in the break) and Nate English of Zteam (who had teammates in the break, but seemed to by trying to catch them anyways). Cal-Giant wisely marked every single move and we never made it more than the distance of a fart up the road.
I kept getting sensations of asthma on the backside of the course, and every time I would go anaerobic up the bears my whole lower body up through my abs and my arms would go tingly numb. After the 3rd time up the bears, I didn’t feel like racing anymore and watched the group ride away. DNF for the day, but I am glad I quit early. I think the fatigue from Sea Otter/Gila etc is finally starting to sink in. Time to gain some weight and enjoy a full week off.
Paul McKenzie: Masters 45+ 4/5
I had a tough day racing with the ‘young’ dudes
, and finished 28th in a field of 60.
After the race Nick and I rode back to the finish area, up a pretty decent climb, to meet Conrad and Andy, then back to the parking area. Then Conrad announces he wants to do another lap, 18 miles. But it was getting hot, so I said let’s do a different loop into the redwoods…which was more like 30 miles. End result, Conrad had well over 100 miles and I had about 90. We hit Picante in Berkeley for awesome burritos, chips, and guacamole. Great day out there!
- Paul McKenzie: 28th
- Andy Scott: 20-30th
- Nick Shaffner: DNF
- Conrad Snover: 4th