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2014-04-13 Red Kite #3 45/55+ 3/4 Race Report by Phil Blay

Good day for racing. Slight overcast early with the sun coming out before the start of the race to warm it up a little. Folsom Bike / Raley’s / VW was represented in this race with Chris M, Jim R, Brian A, Jesse R and myself. The team plan in place, warmed up and ready to go.

At the whistle the race started as usual with the breakaway tries but nothing stuck. Then on lap 3 or 4 Jim pulled off with a flat rear tire. As it took Jim a couple laps to get back to the wheel pit after the wheel change, the referees told Jim he could not be too active in the remaining stage of this race. So that put a little crimp in the team plan.

3.5 laps to go and the guys started to form up a line. Being I was in the middle of the pack, was able to see everyone. At 3 to go, I moved up into the line. The plan was to line up and pace the front of the group but not accelerate until the bell rang for the final lap. Things got squirrelly at the front, racers jumped early after we passed the finish line with 2 laps to go. On the final lap Jim took a short pull being mindful of the referees eyes on him. Jim pulled off early, Jesse took over. After that the rest is a blur……through the final corner safe and hammered to the line.

Results: Brian A 5th 45+ 3/4, Chris M 12th 45+ 3/4, Jess 30th 45+ 3/4, Jim R placed last by the referee, Phil B 5th 55+ 3/4

Thanks to the team for helping Brian and I to 5th place finishes in the 45 and 55 3/4′s!!!

2014-04-19 Copperopolis Road Race 35+ 4 Report by Paul Higley

Master’s 35+ cat 4

 

I’ve always been a little afraid of Copperopolis.  The reputation is that it’s brutally bumpy, dentures will fall out, flats and mechanicals abound, detonation is standard fare and even the most compliant saddle will become a hatchet after the second lap.  The rep is well deserved.but fear reveals the greatest reward when conquered.  Bring it!

We had a little family trip in the gold country before the race during the days preceding, so by race day I was sufficiently fat and out of shape after a food and drink filled 3-day taper.  I pre-rode the course to feel out the wind and descent, and to see the views that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the next day.  It looked like the wind would be a factor, and the climbs were long enough to be decisive.  There were two main climbs, the first about 15 min of 6% and bumpy as hell, the second was a critical 2 min effort right before the chattery descent and run into the 3% sprint.  My primary goal was to survive the climbs in the front group, be in the front for the descent so I could choose my line and avoid getting stuck behind a crash or mechanical, and stay to the left in the sprint.  Simple enough… in theory.

I got in a solid 30 min tempo warm-up, since the first climb started early.  This was good, cause guys went up that climb stupid hard.  My eyes rolled back in my head, and I wondered if I’d be racing Dropperopolis for the second lap.  Climbing the lumpy stuff was a struggle because every bump steals your momentum.  It took its toll.. at the top our field of 32 was reduced to about 16 racers.  Team Revolutions had 3 guys in that split, and was alone, so I felt no need to pull.  And I didn’t.  Besides, there were plenty of guys stronger than me who willingly put their noses in the wind, and my tired legs were grateful.  The second climb was just plain hard, a slugfest grunt effort.  We lost a couple guys there I think, but I can’t remember cause I was hypoxic.

The second lap was basically the same story.  As we passed the feed zone before the 2nd time up the long climb, I revised my goals to include not getting dropped NOW.  The legs felt a bit crampy, which was waaay to early.  Not good.  At the top it was pretty clear that a top 10 finish was likely if I could hang on and recover.  Team Revs still had 3, I still didn’t pull.  Mostly cause I couldn’t.  A couple guys tried to get frisky in the crosswind before the 2nd climb but couldn’t get away.  Everyone seemed more and more exhausted… survival mode.  We hit the last climb hard and I knew my entire race would be blown if I didn’t stay with the front guys in the next 90 seconds.  I don’t know what happened after that because I died for a while.  Suddenly we were flying down the descent, and I was trying to recover.  I chanced a look behind, and it seemed like we had about 8-10 guys still.  Then the moves started, but too early.  I marked, and the legs could still do it… but I knew I had very little left.. one match, if it didn’t fizzle.  The 1k sign came, and I moved to the left side draft.. wind was from the right.  I felt a bit better than expected… adrenaline was pumping!  We had about 7 racers.  I wanted to go late, hoping to catch the wheel of someone who went too early into the wind.  We passed 200m.. the time was NOW.  I opened it up, and the power was there, I was moving up fast!  But of course, that was the moment the other dude wanted to go, and he swerved hard left and chopped me as I was about to blow by him.  I wasn’t quite far up enough to bump him, so I went into the gravel, lost momentum, almost crashed, and hopped back onto the asphalt in the wrong gear.  PISSED.  Somehow the anger watts kicked in and I still passed 2 guys at the line for 4th place.

It worked out, and I was pleased with a top 10 in one of my hardest races and last cat 4 effort.  The guy who chopped me won but came back later with a genuine apology, we shook hands and it was all good.  My family was there to see the action too, fun!  The podium was full of the dudes who were stronger and had the best positioning at the end, congrats to them, well earned.

 

2014-04-19 Copperopolis Road Race 35+ 1/2/3 Report by Jason Walker + Kevin Metcalfe

You already know the results for us – Dan 4th, Kev 8th, Choi 10th, Me 12th, Boynton and McClurg back there somewhere.

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I’ll spare you every detail will focus on a key moment in the race.  About halfway through lap 1 Kevin attacked and was followed by a couple guys (not sure who).  We know it’s a big deal if Kevin is off and the guys took notice.  One of them was Dan Martin – who I’d pegged as the man to beat on the day (not knowing he’d been sick the past week); I was right next to Martin in the group and I saw him ramping it up to go across.  Since I was right there I figured I may as well follow him.  I knew this would cause a big reaction in the group but things were just getting started and there would be many counter moves on the day.

I let Martin pull me up to Kev and sure enough the field was basically right there by the time he bridged.  There wasn’t an immediate counter, so I sat for about 10 seconds and decided to counter on my own.  This was a fake attempt mind you, as I knew I wasn’t our top choice on the day and probably wasn’t going to win from a break of 50+ miles.

I had a gap, probably 10-15 seconds and since nobody came with me immediately, I faked like I was trying hard.  After a couple minutes, just as the course takes a left-hander, I was joined by Nick T from Safeway – always strong and a good break mate.  We started working together wondering who else would come across.  The perfect scenario here would be if someone from all the big teams was with us, including either Dan or Kevin.  We’d have 2 in the break, one of them being a favorite for us, the other, me, was expendable and could assist for as long as possible.

Nick and I swapped pulls for probably 5 minutes, then I looked back and saw what I thought was the entire field closing in on us.  I let Nick know they were there.  He let up a bit.  The next thing I heard was Buckley yelling, “Walker, let’s go!”  I then see Phipps, Andres, Josh Dapice, a Landis/Trek and Mike’s Bike guy go by.  We are now a break of 8, 4 of them favorites in the field, and me.  I quickly assessed that I was probably the 6th or 7th best climber in this group and would eventually get dropped. This wasn’t ideal.

The group started working and I acted like I was into it, knowing at some point soon I’d have to get on the back which would piss the dudes off.  They’d understand the reasoning but wouldn’t really want me to be an anchor.

Back in the main field Kev and team were coming to the same conclusion:  We had no chance of winning the race from that break.

So my team chased the break down.

We were all back together when we crossed start/finish for lap 2.  When Buckley found out Folsom chased us down (somewhere before the feedzone), he came up to me.  “Walker, your team chased us down.”  I said, “Good. I wasn’t going to win from that break.”

You can guess how the remainder of the race went.  Attrition, attrition, attrition.  By the middle of the 3rd time up the big climb most of the favorites were together in a group of around 10-12.  Choi and I were monitoring the other dangerous guys who didn’t make it over the climb – Buckley, Martin and Gil – making sure if they tried to get across they were pulling us with them.  They didn’t love this but they understood.

I would be interested to hear Kev’s assessment from his vantage…

 

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Race Report by Kevin Metcalfe

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To answer Jesse’s question about missing the break, that was a funny thing.  As we turned the sharp corner at the far end of the course to head back towards the finish the group had split.  It wasn’t really an attack as much as a small split.  I saw Phipps jump across and I was in position to do the same.  I didn’t though because there was nothing to indicate that it would lead to anything other than my closing the split down for the whole group.  That was what I wanted but my thought was “why should I do it when I know that in about 20 seconds somebody else will.”  As it turns out though lots of teams were represented and nobody else had the inclination to do anything.  After waiting a bit for somebody else to do the work I talked to Dan and Brian and we started to close it down ourselves.

So I basically traded an easy 10 second effort for a 10-15 minute chase.  Hey, I’ve only been doing this for 30 years, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out… ;-)  Seriously, I guess I played chicken and lost.  BTW, in a similar vein at Snelling I was getting ready to attack on the right on the rollers before the left hand turn on the rough stretch when just before I was going to go Pasco moved in front of me and blocked my spot.  Just then Nate Parks jumped on the left and bridged across.  It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Pasco hadn’t moved in front of me just then.  Maybe Nate and I would have bridged across or maybe that would have prompted the pack to close us both down.

As for how the rest of the race went down, it was just hard.  I’m fit and strong for long and steady hard efforts, but still have some work to do on the short, sharp efforts.  The second time up the main climb was hard for me.  The third time with Josh, Chris and Nick drilling it was brutal.  I barely made it and was at the back of the final group of 8 with the eventual winner Shane Litzenberger.  I attacked a couple of times and policed the group to save Dan for the end.  I would have liked to attack more on the way in, but into the head wind it was pointless.  I did not have to legs to really do anything into the wind like that.  Chris Phipps hit the final climb really hard, but into the wind it was kind of neutralized and though it was still hard I didn’t feel like I was going to die or anything.

I noticed Dan spinning a really light gear on both climbs on the last lap to save his legs and both times it reminded me to do the same and made life much easier.  I love my 36×26.

At the end I took a flier at a bit under 1km to go with the idea that maybe that close to the end they will hesitate before chasing and if not, I’d just turn it into a lead out.  They didn’t hesitate so I just stayed on the front until the sprint started when I gladly sat up and rolled in for 8th.

 

2014-04-19 Copperopolis Road Race 45+ 4 Report by John Ensign

Copperopolis RR 45+ Cat 4, 1st Place

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After beating myself up all week for my rookie mistake at Sea Otter, it was time for redemption. My mistake at Sea Otter was wasting way too much energy. In fact, I pulled the pack the last few miles right up to the start of the finishing climb with about 1k to go. When the attacks started, I was cooked, got dropped and crawled across the line 9th. My plan for Copperopolis was to sit on wheels and stay out of the wind, no matter how good I feel. We had a smallish field of 28 riders and I had no teammates. The first lap was uneventful. The riders that did show up were pretty strong and it looked like everyone made it over the climbs on the first lap. The pace really picked up on the second lap and the field came apart on the first big climb. I was feeling pretty comfortable and just sat second or third wheel for most of the climb. At the top, I dropped back to see who we had left. We were down to 6 riders but over the course of the next few miles 6 or 7 more bridged up. I stuck to my strategy and sat in the middle of this group, keeping my face out of the wind. With about 8 miles to go, there was an attack. A Penn Velo rider jumped on one of the rollers into a headwind and immediately got a gap. No one was interested in chasing as we didn’t think he would last. I had thoughts of bridging up to him but I stuck to my strategy – suck wheel! As we entered the final climb, it looked like the leader had 20-30 seconds on us.  As expected, the attacks started. I glued myself to Robert Leever’s (Bikes Plus) wheel and held on. I noticed the rider in front of Robert started to gap us. I waited until we were closer to the top and I quickly bridged up to the guy in second. We worked together and ended up catching the Penn Velo rider just before the downhill. It looked like the three of us had a nice gap on our chasers. The downhill was your typical nice smooth country road. We get to the 1k to go sign and I look over and there is Robert with Shawn Lollar. I guess Shawn really bombed the downhill, bridging up to us and bringing Robert with him. Now we have a group of 5 heading to the finish. I’m sitting second wheel waiting for someone to go. With about 200 meters to go, the leader opens it up. I stay on his wheel waiting for someone to come around. With about 75 meters to go, I jump and get the win by about a foot.

2014-04-13 Red Kite 3 35+ 1/2/3 and 45+ 1/2/3 Race Report by Kevin Metcalfe


I decided to skip Sea Otter this year and since I hadn’t raced since Snelling for various reasons I signed up for the Red Kite on Sunday. Business park criteriums are hardly my forte or something that I focus so on went on a really long and hilly ride on Saturday (http://www.strava.com/activities/129604604) to properly prepare for the races that I will focus on in the coming weeks. But we didn’t too hard so I felt okay on Sunday.

Before the race Chris Morris, Tony Martinez, Jim Rademann, Brian Acord, and I gathered for a quick strategy session. Jess was busy announcing at the time. The gist of it was to ride aggressively and when it comes down to the inevitable field sprint we would try and keep it fast and try to set somebody up for the sprint. (Not me!) Chris Phipps is 45 this year and had other ideas. He attacked literally from the gun. That one came back but it was just the first of many. I made a few probing attacks and counters and got absolutely nowhere. Chris, Tony, Jim, Brian and Jess were very active too, but nothing was staying away. With about 25 minutes to go Phipps attacked again. I took off after him with a couple of other guys and it looked like we might get clear to bridge up but we didn’t cooperate and came back shortly. A couple of laps later I was able to sneak away and as I got half way across Chris eased up to wait for me. (Thanks Chris!)

My first impression of Chris some years ago was that he was a great climber. This was correct. But he also has quite a flat land motor as his recent TT results indicate. He was on good form on Sunday. Chris is a bit stronger than me right now and there is nowhere to hide behind him when he pulled in his aerodynamic tuck. That combination made my life harder and harder. We started out taking even pulls, but then I started having trouble when he pulled because he was going so hard and I couldn’t recover. My pulls got shorter and shorter. Finally on the back straight on the last lap he basically rode me off his wheel to stay away and win. We had enough gap so that I easily stayed away for 2nd. I guess if my life depended on it I could have dug deep and stayed with him, but it didn’t and I didn’t.

The tactical lesson for me I guess is that I should have seen it coming and eased back on my pulls fairly early on to try and save something for the finish. On the other hand, it’s the Red Kite crit not world’s and killing myself only to get second now will pay more dividends later when it counts.

Between the 45+ and 35+ race I didn’t roll around much and the start of the 35+ race was a rude awakening. I sat near for the back for the first 20 minutes or so to warm up and rest before moving up towards the front. Chris was active again, but probably working with the idea of setting up his team mate Jan for the field sprint. Around half way through though Jan crashed out. Again with about 20 minutes to go I got into a break with Chris, A.J. Kennedy (Vumedi), Trevor White (Vumedi), Dan Martin (Safeway) and Aaron Patterson (Pinnacle). Chris and Dan were particularly strong and again there was much pain.

After 6 laps to go though we saw 2 laps to go and then as we came around the race was stopped for an ambulance to take Jan away. He had hit his head and blacked out for a moment along with breaking his collar bone.

The plan was to restart the race with 5 laps to go and our group having a 13 second head start. During the break I went to my truck to drink some Mountain Dew, Tweeted (of course) https://twitter.com/nslckevin/status/455480507430494208 and had a chat with the guys. My idea was that Dean and I should trade jersey’s and he should do the last 5 laps in the break but we thought they might notice. Plan B was that I would sit on the break and Dean and the guys would kill it behind to bring it together and set up Dean for the field sprint. That made sense because there was no way I was going to win in that break. Both Dan and AJ are better sprinters than me and were both fresher.

I soft pedaled off the line to get on the back and again the hard effort after sitting around was painful. I had to work hard to slot onto the back. I took a couple of pulls where I was in the way more than helping but the group behind was not closing the gap. With 1.5 to go I stopped pulling. I would have preferred to take a flier coming into turn 3 on the last lap but tired legs and a headwind on that leg made that choice a non-starter. I wanted the sprint to start coming into turn 4 so that I could hit that turn at full speed (my jump does not really exist right now) in maybe 2nd or 3rd wheel. I executed that poorly and came around the corner in fourth spot gapped and there I stayed.

It was fun to be out racing again and I’m looking forward to Copperopolis this weekend.

2014-04-12 Sea Otter Classic 35+ 4 Road Race Report by Paul Higley

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I’m driving down to Sea Otter in Monterey from Redding, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic along 680 which made my 5 hr drive into 7. I’m like, WTF am I doing. So then later I’m tucked into my luxurious Motel 6 room which is nearly as awesome as a dirty campsite while people talk outside, slam doors and stomp on the ceiling. I’m like, WTF am I doing. When I arrived at the Sea Otter venue the next morning, I was like.. OH THIS is what I’m doing! What an awesome event!!

I’ve been pointing my fitness towards this month since last fall, and Sea Otter was the first of my A road races. After mucking around with a bunch of low probability (but fun) attacking and racing ‘dumb’ during early races, I had prepared my mind to truly race well this time. It helped that Sea Otter is race of attrition with 4700′ in 45 miles.. I knew the terrain would gradually wear down the field, and I was certain the last 1.5 mi 6% finish would be selective. I vowed to let other guys beat each other up while I scrimped and saved watts for the finish.

We only had 25 in the 35+ cat 4 field, but everyone was strong the entire race. After the neutral roll out to the course, we started fast on the first of 5 laps and were strung out immediately. Good, I thought, the tougher the better.

There were five 7 mile loops before the final climb, and it was a stout course.. climbs weren’t long, but there were a ton of them and they took their toll. A few strong dudes tried to get away but never got much time and came back sooner or later. We hammered our way along the course, which was super fun with closed roads, twisty fast descending, and just enough coastal wind to make drafting important on the false flat sections. Several of the strongest riders continued to blow themselves up while other guys chased. At one point we had a gap with about 6 guys, so we started hammering and rotating well but it all came back together in a few minutes, & by lap 4 I was really feeling it. Gaps were starting to open up on the climbs.. guys were getting tired but were still able to close them down. As we hammered into the base of the finish climb we still had at least 20 guys! I didn’t feel shattered yet, but I wasn’t sure how much I had left. As we rolled up the climb I was 3rd wheel and I could hear guys breathing hard and labored, but I felt like I was in a sustainable place for the moment… encouraging. We saw the 1k to go sign, but it was only getting steeper towards the 10% finish &and there was a noticeable headwind. I expected attacks to come, and I knew it would only take a single acceleration to blow me up.. I was on my limit. The two lead guys were gradually pulling away and they clearly had a bit more than me as the line came into view. My heart rate was pinned and I was drowning in a sea of oxygen.. it was slow motion suffocation! I stole a glance behind me at 200m and there was a gap of a few seconds to the shattered group. I saw one dude get out of the saddle for a last ditch effort and I jumped toward the line just to guarantee he didn’t steal my 3rd placeand the last few points I needed for a cat 3 upgrade. Psyched!!

The podium was super fun with the announcer, medal thingy around my neck, cute podium girl kiss, handshakes with the other guys and arms raised! As always, I’m proud to wear the Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s kit and do right by a great team and awesome sponsors. Thanks for reading.

2014-04-05 Topsport Stage Race 45+ 1/2/3 Race Report by Joe Staron

topsport podium

Good showing for Folsom Bike at Top Sport.  I’m not big on the blow by blow, but a tough windy 75 mile road race, followed the next day by a 60 plus minute circuit race and then a TT makes for some sore legs on Monday.  Props to Steve McCaw for driving  the angry peloton to catch a solo break with 2k to go to in the road race to keep us in the game for the GC.  Alas, I couldn’t close the deal in the TT and we settled for 2nd in the GC.

 

See you out there,

Joe Staron

GC

Joe Staron 2nd

Steve McCaw 6th

RR

Joe Staron 3rd

Steve McCaw 5th

TT

Joe Staron 2nd

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