It wouldn’t be the Patterson Pass road race without strong winds and this year was no exception. Fortunately it wasn’t too warm and there was even a bit of fog at the top of the climb. I entered the 35+ rather than the 45+ so that I could ride with my team mate Rich. My tip for the win was Phil Mai who was the Team Fremont rider that gave me a good beating in the Diablo Hill climb and had won the Berkeley Criterium the week before.
The race was very slow for first few miles into the strong headwind as nobody wanted to work. I went to front on the first steeper section just to try and liven things up a bit but didn’t push too hard (See Photographic Evidence). It did bring the race to life and I ended up sat in third place behind a very strong rider and Phil. I am not sure who the other guy was but he did a huge amount of work on the front and he never seemed to get tired. Once we crested resurrection (Middle steep section) we hit the wind full force and the race really began to string out. I felt pretty good at the top of the climb so I went to the front so that I would be in a good position for the descent.
The cold headwind downhill section was very fast in a group but the winds made things a little hairy for the lighter riders so you had to have your wits about you. The next climb up Flynn had a great tailwind and I felt pretty good so I went to the front again. I wanted to keep the pace high so the people who got dropped on Patterson Couldn’t get back on. I also wanted to be near the front for the nasty 90 degree turn after the summit. The descent of Carol had an outrageous headwind which meant that the Altamont Pass was absolutely ballistic.
On the climb of Midway there was a horrible crosswind and this kept the race pretty steady as no one wanted to suffer too much into that wind. My legs were still feeling pretty good at this point although I wasn’t looking forward to the second climb of Patterson.
One lap down and we hit the Patterson lower slopes quite a bit faster than the first lap. An “Iron Data Thirsty Bear” guy kept a pretty brisk pace going on the lower slopes and it was just above my comfort zone. I was sat in 3rd place but my legs were starting to feel a little hollow and when we hit the steeper stuff the pace picked up even more. I held on OK the first steep corner but I could see the climbers were going to blow the race apart on “Resurrection”. I knew I didn’t have much extra headroom if someone put in an attack.
Sure enough Phil hit the front half way up “Resurrection” and my legs went when I tried to respond. I tried to limit the damage but unfortunately I let a gap go and was about 50m down by the top when I hit the brutal winds. I knew I was in trouble and was unable to close the gap. My legs felt very weak on last steep bit to summit and I got caught and passed by 4 riders but was unable to respond as I had pushed too hard into the wind. I was only about 25m behind the 4 riders but the downhill with strong headwind was unkind to a solo rider and they pulled away.
I felt like I recovered on Flynn and put in a hard effort but got caught by 3 riders and I had a bad moment on the last steep bit and two of them got away. The Headwind section on Caroll was brutal and a guy with me would not help into the wind. He cornered a lot faster than me as I was taking no risks but he didn’t seem to want to work together. To be fair I didn’t actually ask him to work with me. I hammered it on the Altamont pass and my companion still sat on but it didn’t really bother me as my race was done anyways. I was just enjoying the tailwind and 30-45 MPH speeds and didn’t really care about catching anyone. The climb up Midway was hard and my legs were feeling a bit tired but I kept up the pace and then pushed hard on the headwind down hill section to the finish. I actually felt pretty good again.
As we rounded the final corner with a few hundred meters to the line I was totally gobsmacked that my companion who had sat on for half a lap decided to go for the sprint. I had to take him on just for the hell of it and won the sprint for 13th place :). It was actually quite a fun way to finish the race and I bore no malice to the guy. I am not sure why my legs went on the second time up Patterson after I felt so good on the first lap. Perhaps it was fatigue from the Warnerville TT or maybe my lack of endurance training over the last month or more likely that I am just not road race fit. I can’t say I was happy with my result but I did really enjoy the event, things stayed safe and I actually got to ride with a team mate. Last year I had done Patterson Pass several times with the Cycletrons and also had done the “Terrible Two” a month before, so my climbing form was way better than this year.