After feeling pretty good on the TT bike at Davis last week, I called an audible Thursday and decided to do the Chico Stage Race on Saturday. I’m pretty sure that’s a best practice in race selection and preparation. Nevertheless, I was excited. Saturday - Stage 1. 90 Mile Paskenta Road Race – Mostly flat 45 mile loop with a few rollers. Decent pavement most of the way save a short bumpy section followed by 4 miles on gravel.

Having not done a road race in about seven months, never ridden on gravel, and with a shortened base due to a winter injury, my goal was to survive. The race started off with a bunch of attempted breakaways until one finally made it off about 1/3 of the way through the first lap. WebCor hit the front to chase; I, showing my lack of recent racing or goodwill, decided to help some. The chase fizzled after 15 minutes or so and the group cruised until we hit the gravel.

And that’s when the race really started. A few guys hit it hard at the front while the rest of us struggled just to keep our bikes upright. Save a narrow hole-shot, the gravel was pretty deep through several sections. About half-to-two-thirds of the guys, including me, fell a decent amount off the leaders. Fortunately, I managed to keep things rubber side down and bridge back up once I had my bearing for the terrain.

Consider the Cannondale Super Six battle tested. As was the wrenching of the excellent mechanic team at San Rafael Mike’s Bikes.

We caught the break shortly after the gravel and the 14 or so of us stuck together for most of the next lap. After being traumatized by the gravel on the first go-around, I was determined to hit it from the front the second time through. So I spent most of lap 2 at or near the front, then somehow managed to fall off just as we hit the gravel. Again, still dusting the cobwebs off the racing skills and tactics this year. And trying to build some new ones.

The gravel was tough again. I fell off a bit, but was able to bridge back on the hill following the gravel. Two guys who had snuck off a bit before the gravel were still off. I accelerated a bit as we hit the last roller before the finish, which then incited some attacks that popped me off the back.

I finished 12th, about 15 seconds off the group I had been with, though comfortably ahead of the chunk of the field that we shed on lap one.

Sunday – TT Flat out and back – nice pavement, decent amount of headwind on the way out. We started in one minute intervals and I was neither passed nor caught. I estimated that I held my minute exactly on the guy who started in front of me. That turned out to be true. We finished with the exact same time for the TT, had been awarded the same time for RR (he was with me when he had a mechanical in the last 3k) and would go on to get the same time for the crit. In the Cat 2 GC (pulled separately), he took 1st and I took 2nd, so I’m guessing he must have taken me by a fraction of a second in the TT.

Crit – Downtown course, hella corners, one stretch of drunk girls standing in front of some bars. I took care of the back of the race and tailgunned it for 70 min. Great workout, but I’m going to have to work on my skills there a bit. Pack Time. I’ve enjoyed crits in the past, but having only done one in the past 2 yrs, shockingly, I’m a bit rusty and currently hate them.

Overall- I was very impressed with the promoters and the race. Very friendly staff and volunteers who were all knowledgeable about cycling generally and the race specifically.

9th GC in the P 1-2 Field. 2nd in the Cat 2 field pulled separately.