Also, this race is promoted by Velo Promo. Velo Promo doesn't put on big money races, but they are the backbone of Nor-Cal racing. If Velo Promo went out of business, most of
the really cool races we do each year would dissapear. A lot of us half jokingly and half seriously consider winning a Velo Promo t-shirt (top 6) at a race as a worthy accomplishment. A drawer full of Velo Promo t-shirts indicates a good season of racing.
Stage 1: Madera Crit - Saturday 1:30pm, Temp ~90 degrees
Nothing special here, just a four corner crit. But there were two 5 second time bonus primes and 20, 10, and 5 seconds for the top 3 at the finish. We were hoping for a pack finish to just "glide" through this stage without using too much energy. With at least four guys who had a shot of winning the time trial in the afternoon our tactic was all about keeping it together and letting the TT decide the first day's GC.
The best laid plans... A break went fairly early with three of us (Larry Nolan, Dean LaBerge, and Steve Cassani) so we let it go. There were two rival GC threats (Brian Bosch and Michael Hernandez) though so towards the end we worked to close the gap to a reasonable amount without chasing them down. We didn't want to give Brian who is a very good time trialist a "head start" going into the TT. By the end we brought them back to a fairly reasonable 17 seconds without expending too much energy. Larry won the stage and both time bonus primes so he had a nice lead going into the TT.
1. Larry Nolan (AMD)
2. Brian Bosch (CVC)
3. Mike Hernandez (Safeway)
6. Dean LaBerge (AMD)
Stage 2: Sharon Time Trial - Saturday 4:40pm, Temp ~95 degrees
The second stage was a 10mile TT in more or less of a loop (as opposed to a more
usual out and back). With the various age, sex and ability categories they had been racing the TT since 10am. We arrived and heard many stories of riders missing corners and getting off course... I had hopes of winning the TT or at least putting in a good ride to put myself near the top of the GC. Mick and Larry were also ready to put in good rides.
I started off well and caught my 30 second man after about 3 miles. I made the first right turn and was still motoring along well. My power output was good etc. The roads were rough
and there were holes in places so you needed to pay a lot of attention to the road so you didn't ride over a big hole and get a flat tire.
After a while I saw a sign on the OPPOSITE side of the road that said "Bike Race Ahead". That sent chills up my spine and made me wonder if I missed my turn. I kept going using this logic: If I missed my turn I am already screwed. If I "think" I missed my turn, turn around and realize that I hadn't missed my turn then I screw myself for no reason. So I kept going with a sinking feeling in my stomach. After about two more miles I came upon a four way stop sign with no cones to mark anything and I knew I had blew it. So, I turned around, put it in the small ring and made my way back to the finish long after the last rider had finished. I rode what should have been a 22 minute TT in around 40 minutes or so. Doh!
The rules clearly state that it is the riders responsibility to know the course. Even still as I rode back to the turn I missed my mind was irrationally trying to find some way to blame the promotor. But when I got the "the corner" I was a bit dissapointed to see that it was marked as well as any others. I can only figure that I was riding along looking for holes, looking up, looking for holes, etc. And didn't look up at the right times. I was bummed because I wanted to blame it on poor course marking, but couldn't!!! Pilot error...
When you have an incident in a stage race TT you get the time of the last place rider so I "only" lost a bit over 5 minutes which put me tied for last place. A friend of mine got so lost he ended up in town and had to call his wife to come get him! At least four people out of our starting field of 32 had the same time as me and presumably all went of course.
Brian Bosch (CVC) 1st
Billy Innes 5th
Wyatt Weisel 7th
Rob Anderson 10th
Stage 3: Daulton Road Race - Sunday 8:10am, Temp probably peaked at around 85 degrees or so.
A rider from the CVC team, Brian Bosch (who was also in the break in the crit) won the TT and had the lead on GC. Larry was 2nd and Mick Hellman was in 4th @ 1:19 behind the leader.
We felt like we were in a really good position as a team. We didn't have the lead and didn't have to control the race. But we had a couple of guys nipping at Brian's heels and a strong team try and put those guys in a position to win.
On the first lap a break formed with Mick and Mike Hernandez (another GC threat 25 seconds behind Mick). The CVC team started chasing, but they weren't making any headway so I jumped across to the break alone and we were off. It ended up being six of us. Eric Easterling (CVC), Mike Hernandez (Safeway), Mick (AMD), Clint Gaver (Spine), Shawn Pearson (Reno Wheeleman) and myself (AMD). Dave Nelson (Lombardis) also made the break, but flatted out after one lap.
As Brian Bosch of CVC was leading on GC, Eric rightly sat on the back of the break to protect his leader. Unfortunately for CVC, the team burned themselves out after one lap and then Brian chased alone for another lap before the pack gave it up. Our time splits kept going up and with one lap to go we had around 4:30 on the chasers. At that point I laughed out loud because it looked like I had a good chance to move from last place into a position where I could claim the coveted Velo Promo t-shirt!
But the bigger goal of moving Mick into first place was our top priority. Mick was the highest placed rider in the break. We were very concerned with Mike Hernandez. If Mike won while Mick was out of the top three a slightly gapped at the finish, Mike would win the stage race. So on that last lap I did what I could to keep Mick from having to work too much while waiting for Mike to try something. But it was Clint Gaver who started attacking on the rough section on the last lap. Clint was looking very strong and was causing pain all around, but then his front tire went soft and he got left behind.
Finally we were down to four riders and when we got into the rollers towards the end and I stayed on the front to keep the pace high enough to discourage attacks. In the sprint, Mike Hernandez had enough left to beat the fresher Eric Easterling and Mick held on for third. Mike picked up 15 seconds in time bonuses (20 for 1st vs 5 for Mick's 3rd). With that Mick won GC by about 10 seconds. The pack came in over 7 minutes later and I moved up into 6th place which still makes me giggle a little bit.
We unknowingly dodged a bullet when Clint Gaver got his flat. We were so focused on Bosch and Hernandez that we didn't realize that Clint was only 3 seconds behind Mick on GC. If Clint didn't flat it is possible that he would have finished ahead of Mick, taken a time bonus and won the GC.
Mike Hernandez (Safeway)
Eric Easterling (CVC)
Mick Hellman (AMD)
Kevin Metcalfe (AMD)
Shaw Pearson (Reno Wheelman)
Clint Gaver (Spine) (He had a CO2 cartridge in his pocket and held off the field!)
- Mick Hellman (AMD)
- Mike Hernandez (Safeway)
- Clint Gaver (Spine)
- Eric Easterling (CVC)
- Shaw Pearson (Reno Wheelman)
- Kevin Metcalfe (AMD)
- Brian Bosch (CVC)
- Larry Nolan (AMD)
- Billy Innes (AMD)
- Rob Anderson (AMD)
It was a short, hot, hard, and intense weekend of racing and it felt good to put it together as a team to win the overall. We've had a few close but no cigar's and it was nice to finish one off!