Folsom Historic Criterium - Masters 35+ 1/2/3
Author - Mike Foley
Warm, humid and a little hazy
Dave Allen and Jacob Berkman
While I’ve raced in Folsom, I’ve never done this race.
An L-shaped course with a round-about at one end, hairpin on the other and a fast sweeping S-turn in between. Starting east on Parkshore Drive, the course curves south, then east again on Plaza, through the round-about west on Plaza, North on Parkshore Drive. It then curves west to the finish and then a 180 degree turn to finish the loop. Excellent pavement.
The three of us went into this race with no plan - seriously. There were so many strong riders here and large teams that our best approach was to play off of the tactics of other teams for a change. Jacob’s plan was to rest for Nevada City the next day. His plan was to race for twenty minutes, get a workout in and then pull himself out. But, he ended up staying in the race to the end.
On the line looking around I could see this was going to be a fast race. The riders that were here included Mike Sayers, back from coaching in Europe, Dean LaBerge and his whole blue-man group (Folsom) of ten or more (including Metcalfe) and Safeway's Nick Theobold. There was also Craig Roemer and a few Specialized riders, as well as Sierra Nevada and Lange Twins. It was obvious, there was going to be some fast racing ahead.
Immediately there was a Folsom rider off the front (a good time trial rider) who stayed out there for a good 6-8 laps. He sat out there and the group seemed content to let him dangle. When he came back, immediately another Folsom rider went off. There seemed to be a blue jersey out front almost every lap. Folsom was doing a good job of protecting their home turf. Sayers fought hard to get away all race but never really got a chance to escape. He was a marked man. Every time he was up and out of the saddle, rocking the bike, the pack followed him around like lost sheep. If anyone tried to go past him, he jumped on their wheel and strung it all out again.
Dave and I were like ships in the night, exchanging glances and maybe a word as we gasped to close gaps and stay towards the front. The group was always shifting from side to side. There were tailwinds down one side, cross winds on the short stretch and headwinds on the home stretch. Riders were single file most of the time and bunched up for obvious reason into the headwind. All the three of us could do was sit in and try and rest.
In the final few laps Sayers and three Folsom riders were dangling off the front 30-50 meters but eventually it all came back together in the final lap. On the long straight away, the pack morphed into a long rectangular train outlined on all sides by blue Folsom jerseys. I was boxed in somewhere in the top ten on Dean’s wheel. All I could do was follow him up the middle as he prepared to sprint. He shifted forward through a hole in the front right side of the pack. His teammates let him out for the win. Somehow I got clear and held onto ninth, the last single digit.