While many of the Central Valley destinations offered up by the long NorCal road bike racing season are, perhaps, less than picturesque, the same cannot be said for this weekend’s inaugural Turlock Road Race. The race course was situated as a clockwise circuit of the Turlock Lake, lapped twice for the Cat 4 field for a distance near 55 miles. From the start finish area, we were treated to a beautiful view of the lake and the brutally rolling course offered a wonderful change of pace from office park crits that are so easy to get to, but really leave a little something to be desired. turlock map

I arrived for my noon start in Turlock looking to shake things up a bit. My training has been going well, but a few spells of bad luck have left me

a little short on results. I hadn’t seen the course before, but I got a bit of a course recon report from fellow Mike’s Bikes racer, Paul Ngo, who had raced the 3s race early in the morning. Paul’s report of a lot of fast short rollers turned out to be an accurate picture.

The 4s race rolled out with around 75 riders with some fairly well staffed teams in attendance. Davis, Rio Strada, and San Jose had all brought at least 5 guys a piece, and, being alone, I had found a few friends in the staging area who were also short on teammates for the day. Immediately from the gate, the course has a fair bit of false flat descending, with a few mild rollers. Upon turning onto Los Cerritos, the real rollers start to show themselves and as the circumnavigation of the lake continues, the rollers from Snelling RR, and a very difficult set unique to Turlock combine forces to make for a very difficult lap of racing.

After rolling along near the front of the group with a few attempts to get a group to go up the road (one particularly vicious attack on a roller familiar to those who have raced Snelling punched a pretty big hole in the pack’s moral, if not the pack itself), I settled into the pack for the last half lap before putting myself out in the wind a bit to move back to front of the group in the closing 5k. With about 1.5k to go, the pace picked up a bit and the jostling for position began. With 1k to go a line began to form on the left side of the road, which a thought was odd given that the last bend was a very slight right hander. I stayed to the right and positioned myself behind a Daniel Stevens (a friend of the team) and when Oliver W. from Rio Strada let loose with about 200 to go and Daniel didn’t respond I screamed at him to jump and then went around him in an attempt to chase Oliver down. Unfortunately I ran out of road, but rolled across for 2nd place.

Check out the video below for the final few kilometers. I’m the enormous guy in the Mike’s kit on the beautiful Cannondale SuperSix, Daniel is also on a SuperSix in a green/white SB kit and Oliver is in the dark kit with the white compression socks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWitLKKgOQY

All in all, I’m pumped about my first podium of the year. I can’t wait to unleash the full force of the Team Mike’s Bikes 4s (all 2 of us) on Copperopolis in 2 weeks!! MBFY!!

podium

(Sorry about being so tall....it looks pretty silly doesn't it?)

-John