Knights Ferry Road Race Masters 45+ Cat 4 (5th Place)

I often wonder why I enter races as I always get stressed out the week before and it is rare I get good night’s sleep. By race day I am usually a nervous wreck complete with various strange ailments and maladies that miraculously disappear after the event.  Knights Ferry Road Race was no exception and it was made especially troublesome for me by being the first race of the season.  I had entered it just for training, or at least that was what I had told myself, so really there should have been no pressure at all. I thought it would be good practice for the Warnerville TT and TOP SPORT stage race which both use the same course.

Course: 13.5 mile out and back course (27 miles total) that will start at the Intersection of Warnerville Road/Willms road. Race will start heading North on Willms. Finish will be in the opposite direction of 2011 on top of same climb, this eliminates the turnaround 1 mile from finish. Turnarounds are narrow, if you cannot make a 180 turn on a narrow road start practicing or stay home

 For 2013 I am racing with my old team (Team Fremont) and for the Masters 45+ 4 I had a very strong team mate in the shape of John Lem.   We were completely outnumbered by other large teams so it was going to be a challenge to work the tactics in our favor. 

The race started off fairly briskly with the Cushman & Wakefield Racing team dominating the proceedings up front. The referee was rigidly enforcing the center line rule so this meant that the group could be no more than 3-4 riders wide. It was very difficult to make your way up the peleton to get near the front, which is where I like to be, but I ended up stuck in the middle.  When we hit the first 180 turn  I was absolutely amazed how slow people were taking it and by the time I got round I was probably about 200m behind the leaders and had to put in a hard chase.

After the turn the C&W riders were driving hard on the front and we were flying along with a cross tailwind. Our group managed to catch and pass the two groups that set off in front of us so we were not hanging about. At the next 180 turn I made sure I was near the front and witnessed a C &W rider making a break for it. As soon as he went his entire team drifted back and the pace dropped a lot. I found myself sat in third position behind two strong riders who both did a really long pull as no-one wanted to put their nose into the wind. Eventually I had to do some work on the front myself but this fortunately put me in a good place for the climb that would be our finish hill on the next lap.

I was near the front for the 180 degree turn so I didn’t have to put in a chase but I wished the leaders had put the hammer down here as it could have split the field. On the climb I sat alongside the leader and we climbed at a pretty fast tempo but not enough to do much damage.  I wasn’t prepared to try to sit in to the finish so over the top 6 of us worked hard to try to split up the field but no-one really wanted to commit. Eventually two riders attacked when I was on the front and we just let them go (big mistake as one of the riders won).

I made a huge tactical error in that as i pulled off the front I allowed myself to get pushed back down through the pack so that when we hit the final 180 turn I was near the back again with John.  There was absolutely no way either of us could get through to the front on this final leg without crossing the line. I was very frustrated but somewhat consoled that it was just a training race for me. When we hit 1K to go and the final climb to the finish people started sprinting and a few gaps opened up so I went for it. I picked my way through all the riders on the climb but several times had the door slammed and I had to brake hard (almost to a stop).  With about 300 to go I finally got a clear view of the front and could see the leaders about 100m in front of me.  I sprinted hard and caught a few guys  and by the finish I had closed to within about 20 feet off the winner.

I finished in 5th place and my team mate was 9th which was a great result when you considered how badly boxed in we were at the end. The winner John Marengo deserves a big pat on the back for his efforts and well judged attack. All in all it was a fun race and the standard of riding was nothing to complain about. The only crash we had was a rider who got sent to the back by the referee for a center line violation.  He looked OK at the end.

 Results:

1 407.90 John Marengo Fair Oaks, CA 371699 376 Team City – Sacramento
2 410.98 Kenneth Cluff Oakland, CA 335500 356 East Bay Velo Club
3 414.06 Tom Luttrell San Francisco, CA 235966 375 Divine Electric Norcal
4 417.14 Robert Leever Citrus Heights, CA 267651 372 Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada
5 420.23 Mark King Livermore, CA   136967 369 Team Fremont / FFBC pb Chipotle
6 423.31 David Dalton Danville, CA 287122 357 Kovarus / Wells Fargo
7 426.39 greg fales Orangevale, CA 275788 360 Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada
8 429.47 William Nolan Carmichael, CA 196197 382 Team City
9 432.55 John Lem Milpitas, CA   364839 373 Team Fremont / FFBC pb Chipotle
10 435.63 Peter Krogh Nevada City, CA 177339 370 SHO-AIR/SERT

 

Garmin Stats:

Distance: 59 Miles

Av Speed: 21.8MPH

Climbing: 2013ft

Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/39564133

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