E4 Race Report by Adam Stansbury
Having done this race last year, I anticipated a small group and little room for upgrade points. At the last minute, our race got combined with the 35+ and 45+ cat 4s. Though we were still picked separately and this didn’t help the points situation, our group went from 24 to about 50 which gave me a chance to sit-in comfortably before the climb.
The pace was slow in the first 20 or so miles up to the big climb and I was worried I wasn’t burning off the pizza I ate the night before. Not to worry, though, since the young skinny dudes hit the climb hard as expected and split up the pack quickly. A few of us managed to keep the lead group of 8 or so skinny dudes in sight on the climb and made it to the top still having a chance to chase them down over the next 35 miles. 3 master’s guys rolled over the top with me and somehow I found the energy to do a “Morris special”: down in the drops, diesel power at 30mph for the last 5 miles before the turnaround. About 1/4mi before the turnaround the lead group passed us going the other way — not bad. The 4 of us took turns pulling back over the climb and regrouped at the bottom of the descent to put in a chase-group effort; despite us working together well and pushing hard, we never caught the lead pack.
At around 15mi to go, we started picking up stragglers from the lead pack and the moto informed us that we were racing for 4th in the E4s, 1st and 2nd in 35+s, and 2nd and 3rd in the 45+s. I expected the master’s guys to keep things rolling but it took the moto telling us about the chase group 2 minutes behind us for everyone to work together and pick the pace back up. Cut to the 3mi mark and we have a big group rolling into the finish with 3 other E4s with whom I’d be battling for 4th (Velo Reno, Rio, and BP). Velo Reno took a couple bike lengths off the front; I wasn’t sure if he was pulling away or just blowing his nose but I made my move. I broke off and came cruising up behind him, yelling for him to take my wheel. He looked around like “WTF?” and jumped on my wheel while I put in a little more diesel power to get us a good gap. Rio managed to bridge and we pulled farther away from the pack. “Okay,” I thought, “we dropped only one E4 and things aren’t much better, but this is good practice for me.” With about 1.5mi to go and only me working, I turned to Reno and Rio and asked them if they wanted to sprint, wherein I’d stop pulling, or if they’d agree to roll in 4-5-6, giving me 4th, and I’ll continue doing the work. They agreed to 4-5-6 and I kept pulling toward the finish. With about 150m to go, I hear yelling from behind as Reno informs me Rio is sprinting around me. By the time I reacted and pulled out my sprint the race was over and Rio had 4th, I had 5th, and Reno 6th. All said, I got an extra 3 upgrade points I wasn’t expecting, a lesson in trust, and a brutally fun race. Oh, and pretty sure I burned off the rest of that pizza.
35+ 1/2/3 Race Report by John Novikoff
80+ Miles 9th Place
I swore Leesville off my calendar after the abusive jarring I subjected myself to last time I did the race but with a changed course, removing the bumpy road (worse than Copperopolis in my opinion) I wanted to check it out.
We rolled with a small group of 15 I believe, and I officially was the only “sprinter” type in the field. Things got active right at the start as Mike’s Bikes had four guys in the field. They continued to attack, one after the other and I had made a couple moves with them but nothing stuck and I was not committing as I had no idea how I would fare on the climb. Two guys did eventually roll off (MB +1) and were away till the climb. With three MB players in the group, they covered every move and attempt to bridge. So I figured I would roll with momentum and fake attacking to burn their legs a bit multiple times. Well, I think they figured it out. The pace was pretty slow as I “soft” pedaled the flats off the front for a few miles.
The climb starts after a few rollers and I settled. The whole group started to ride away. I knew it would be a long day, so I decided not to go into the red at this point hoping to have some gas for the return trip. I picked up a BP rider near the top and we joked about the long day ahead. I quickly dropped him on the decent, then kept eyeing for the leaders as I got closer to the turn around. The fields were so scattered and I was moving pretty good that it was hard to make out who was who. It appeared when I made the turn around that who I felt were the leaders, had about 3-5mins. I put my big gear pants on and started back. I picked up 3 guys 2 of which were MB’s. We made the climb together, had a fun decent, and I did the majority of the work as we picked up guys and rode past others. Our chase group was down to 4 and with 3K left, one of the Mikes Bikes riders asked if I wanted to sprint it out as and if so, he would lead me out because his teammate took zero pulls, was smoked, he didn’t want the SJBC rider to finish in front of us and I did the lion’s share of work coming back. I took him up on the offer and with 1K to go, he drilled it. We dumped the SJBC rider, then his teammate found his legs and tried to make a go of it. I put some power down and kept him a few bike lengths behind.
I sure was glad to get off the bike. The final 20 miles of this race is just mentally abusive. Its dead flat, no landmarks and I just wanted off the bike. Glad to have gone and I will be back again. This race has many different possibilities and can shake out many different ways. Sure it’s a climbers race, but I go just for the chance that I may make the climb, or have enough of a chase group to bring it all together.