Write-up by Sam Hill (CAT3)
I was really amped up about this weekend because it was the first two races of the year for me. Two of my favorite races as well, Folsom Crit and Copper Town Circuit race. I had gotten a lot stronger since the end of last year, thanks to my coach Adam Switters (Mike's Bikes Elite Team). I definitely felt that I was stronger by just sitting in the pack, I also was pretty aggressive on Sunday which gave me confidence in my form. Lastly, I was really excited to be racing on my new S-Works Venge which was super sick this weekend and in my sweet Capo Skinsuit! Anyways, let’s get into the report.
Folsom Winter Crit:
I was expecting this race to be really fast since it’s really early in the season, was pretty short (45m), and a good amount of people were signed up. I talked with Jimmy before the race about our plan, pretty much to sit in and stay out of trouble, then try to out kick the bunch together in the end.
After the race started, I felt pretty good and stayed near the top 10, but not too far up. So, I drifted back and sat the rest of the race, until 5 to go, in the middle of the pack. Couple of sketchy riders, but nothing too much to talked about, after all, it is a 2 turn crit.
When the bell was rung, I over heard that there was a small break up the road, I learned after that they had been away the whole race! It kinda sucks that I had no idea, but it didn’t really have an impact on how I finished the race. I tried to sit on Jimmy’s wheel, but lost in the first turn. I jumped on a Golden Wheelmen’s wheel, but that was the wrong decision. He pretty much had his teammate shove me off his wheel in the last corner, so I got caught up start my sprint in 15th place. I sprinted to a fair 10th place and Jimmy got 4th, second in the field sprint!
It was not a bad first race of the season for me, I was really happy of what my form was looking like for the next day.
Copper Town Circuit Race
Last year, this race was my first 3s race and I took a good 8th place. I was looking to improve on last year’s result and I did. Same warmup as yesterday on the rollers, my legs were feeling much better than Saturday. I line up and get ready for what was going to be an aggressive race, even though the field was 10 riders smaller than the day before.
The whistle was blown and as soon as we get out of the town square, a rider, Charlie Velez, attacks. He was one of the two people I had marked for this race, he got 2nd at Folsom, and the Fremont rider that got 1st at Folsom was there as well. So, Velez sat out there for a good lap, until we come around town square again and the Fremont rider attacks. I sat on someone’s wheel. so I came into town square 3rd wheel and try to bridge to the Fremont rider. Unfortunately, Charlie looked to be slowing and giving up, I looked back and saw the pack about 5 seconds behind me. I just sat up and soon enough the pack catches the Fremont rider and Charlie as well.
The race was pretty mellow for me for the next couple laps. A couple of riders tried to go solo, and it just didn’t work out. It was pretty clear a solo break wasn’t going to work. Not only that, but of course no one wanted to work at all. When we saw two to go, we go through town, and the Fremont rider attacks again! This was a pretty strong attack, and 5 or so riders are going with him. I bridge up to them, then everyone just sits up. The pack caught us really quickly, so I just decided to try and stay patient for the finish.
We make the sketchy u-turn and it’s just all good. Once we get towards the finish, we see one to go. Everyone was so astonished to see one to go that early. I looked at my SRM and it only had 40 minutes on it for the race, keep in mind we were supposed to race 60 minutes and it was taking 10-12 minutes per lap. Everyone hits panic mode from here, scrambling from the sprinters who were sitting in the whole race, now are trying to get up to the front.
The pack makes its way through town square and it’s fast, but not too fast, until 3k to go. Luckily, I moved to 6th spot and a Limitless rider attacks. Charlie attacks, fully committed and I hopped on his wheel. The Limitless rider was dropped when Charlie attacked again, when I had just reached his wheel. One of the teams was trying to get a sprint train going, and we were caught right before the turn around.
We see 2k to go and we go down one of the steeper rollers, I’m spinning my brains out in the top 10 position. I checked after the race, and I was at 140 rpm at that point. We see 1k to go and I’m trying to move up further, but the people in front of me are going backwards! I see the same Golden Wheelmen guy from the day before and he cuts a San Jose rider off into the Gravel, so a spot opened for me. This guy brought me up to the top 5 spots at 250m to go and I sprinted early and it payed off, since my sprints can be pretty long. I passed everyone in front of me, except the Fremont rider I marked and I got 2nd.
I was very satisfied with this race as it was my first Cat 3 podium, and this weekend in general was great, the season will only get better from here. I want to thank these awesome sponsors that we are all lucky to have supporting us this season: The team for their support, Mike’s Bikes, Specialized Bikes, Equator Coffees and Teas, Toyota, Capo Cycling Apparel , Probar, Smith Optics, Osmo Nutrition, Sram, Violich Farms, and Bike Smart. I also want to make a special thank you to my parents for supporting me!!! Remember, the off season really does pay off!