Remember that bad luck that I mentioned a few posts back….Saturday at Copperopolis was a great chance to really take on a true Northern California classic. Having never raced there before, I read quite a few race reports and spoke to more experienced racers on the squad and I heard over and over again, “The roads are ROUGH!”.

A new member of Mike’s Bikes joined me in the trip out the, Daniel Velasco. Daniel is an extremely focused and determined guy, and is certainly a racer on his way through the categories. It was great to talk to him as we drove out to the race. Unfortunately, I learned that he had a twinge of pain in his knee which he was keeping a very close eye on and, as such, he was not sure about how is race would go. As it turned out, Daniel decided to do the smart thing and pull out of the race soon after the start. I was looking forward to a tough day….and I got it. Half way into the first lap I flatted my rear wheel. As I pulled over to wait for a follow car (running tubbies….no swapping tubes here),Webcor Alan rolled by, having dropped himself due to an injury. An idea sprang to my head and I managed to convince him to wait for the car and allow me to take his wheel.

So, wheel swapped, I took off in pursuit of the pack. I could see the pack on a few of the longer stretches of straight road, which gave me hope. After 30+ minutes up the back side of the course, down the decent (WOOOO HOOOO!!!) and past the start/finish area, I finally caught the group at the base of the main climb, lap 2.

I rode with the group up the climb and was spinning happily along, when I went to shift in a slightly harder gear and I realized that the cassette that Allan had on his wheel was much larger than the 11-23 I had been running (I swear it must have been an 11-28). Long story short, the derailleur jammed and wouldn’t shift down out of the 28, which meant I had to dismount, remove my rear wheel, drop gears, reintall the wheel and get going again.

This left me about a minute or so behind the group. I covered this gap back as well (Thanks to Dan from DFL for the last 100 meters), but caught them right at the base of the 2nd climb, and was dropped, spent from all my chasing. RACE DAY OVER…I rolled around for the 3rd and final lap to get the mileage in, but certainly was not contesting anything of importance.

Despite the less-than-stellar result, I will definitely head back out to Copperopolis. That course is one of the best I have ridden. Anyone who wins there really earns it. A big thanks to Allan for the wheel…although we definitely have to talk about running a 28 rear cog. Check out his photos at www.focusoncycling.com