Esparto was a new time trial for me and I entered the Masters 35+ 4/5 event more to get an idea what it would be like for future races than chasing a high place. The race parking was much nicer than the usual Velo Promo event and there was a good friendly atmosphere in the warm morning sun so I felt good.
I didn’t bring the trainer and opted to warm up on the road instead. Unfortunately the road I chose to warm up on was the main road to the Cache Creek Casino and there was considerable traffic. This section of road is my least favorite part of the Davis Double Century. It did the job of getting my legs loosened and heart rate up but I think I will take a trainer in future.
Weather for the event was warm with light winds, so any impression of a headwind was really only just air resistance. I had absolutely no idea what the 18.3 mile course was going to be like other than a course profile on Strava that made it look pretty hilly in the middle. I don’t like riding time trials without pre-riding the course as I believe this is necessary for proper pacing. The Course started off pretty flat with better than expected pavement for a Velo Promo event which was a shock. The pavement was actually pretty good for the whole course but there was cracked asphalt approximately 2 feet from the road edge for the entire roller section that was annoying if you got your wheels in the cracks. Traffic was virtually non-existent.
I had heard the course had some rollers and was a unsure just how hard they would be. The rollers turned out to be big ring stuff but were still hard enough to hurt your average speed. I tried to push hard on the up hills without blowing up but even a freeway overpass can put the hurt on you when you are riding at max. The course was asymmetric with the outward leg being several miles longer than the return (10.61 miles). The turn itself just seem to suddenly appear and I was not convinced it actually was the turn until I got within 50m of it. It was a technical and slow turn with some gravel and bumps to catch the unwary.
The return leg was predominantly uphill according to Strava and it certainly felt like it. The rollers felt that little bit harder on the way back and I had to come off the aero bars for one of them. With a few miles to go I spotted another two riders in front and this gave me a bit of a carrot to aim for. I caught one just before the freeway overpass which felt like a mountain and then proceeded to try to reel in the other one before the finish. I don’t know if the rider got a second wind or I just slowed over the last 3 miles but it took me an age to catch him. I finally passed him with about 500m to go and I was right on the edge doing so.
My time was 42m25s which gave me the win. I was really pleased to win on a course that I have never ridden before and I must say that Esparto is probably my favorite TT course. I definitely want to ride it again.
|1||Mark KING (1 – Cat4)||Livermore, CA||0:42:25.2||136967||Christian Cycling – Hammer Nutrition|
|2||Chris MORRIS (2 – Cat4)||El Dorado Hills, CA||0:42:40.1||316874||Folsom Bike/Mercedes|
|3||jeff UPTON (1 – Cat5)||Grass Valley, CA||0:43:19.4||315494||Victory Velo|