On Sunday, Shawn Rosenthal, Tyler Brandt and myself met up at Cole Coffee in Oakland in the late morning to ride down to the highly prestigious Notso Early Bird Criterium. Roman Kilun (Kenda/5 hour Energy) and Doran Mori (Team Clif) also joined us for the ride down. We took a long route through the hills to get to the race in Fremont. You can check out the route for the ride on Strava here:
The sections on Redwood Rd. and Palomares Rd. make for some of the best road riding in the area.
With John Becker driving down from the city, Mike’s Bikes had four riders in a field of almost sixty category 1/2/3 riders. We agreed on a strategy of simply racing hard and having some fun. There were copious attacks during the first quarter of the race and all of us took turns going with the moves. Nothing stuck until I found myself off the front in a five-man group with two Webcor riders. After working to get a decent gap on the field, we rotated pulls effectively enough to stay out front until the halfway point of the race. At that point, several others (including Roman Kilun) rode across the gap from the field, and the breakaway swelled to a dozen riders. With four Webcor riders now in the group, many riders felt entitled to sit on. This led to an atmosphere of negativity in the break, and some attacking and voicing of opinions transpired. I did my best to just hit the front as much as the guys who were working. Webcor set tempo on the last lap of the race and we all prepared for a long drag race to the line into a stiff headwind. Roman graciously got me onto his wheel coming into the final corner and led me out for the sprint. He dropped me off pretty early, and I had to start my kick a long ways out into a stiff headwind. John Wilk of Webcor managed to come around me on the finish line. I had to settle for 2nd place, but was happy that I’d done a good sprint and had “good sensations” during the harder parts of the race. All in all, it was a fun race and made for some good training for all of us.
On the way home, we took a more direct, urban route back to Oakland/Berkeley. There was some excitement on the way when a groups of kids (we’re talking 13 years old!) jammed into a beat-up car burned through a stop sign like they were fleeing a crime scene, nearly taking us out. Roman also survived a comical low-speed crash on a steep grade that ensued when he pulled his rear wheel out of the dropouts. Once back to Berkeley, my Garmin told me I had ridden 105 miles. I thought long and hard in the shower about how best to gorge myself, and eventually settled on a big mess of pork ribs from Everett and Jones BBQ, along with a couple of beers.