Barbicas, Ryan, Vigil, and Adams (35-39 trouble maker)
22.8 mile loop on country roads northeast of Turlock, CA with many small to rolling hills throughout the course.
70s and enough wind to make the race hard.
REPORT (Fluff stuff):
The Masters Team’s early race season has been very fun and successful in 2015. So much so, that winning the District RR championship was an attainable goal. I think we had the ability to do that last season, but we lacked the experience. Our team is a great mix of talented guys from different successful paths in sport and careers. Many of us are newish to racing bikes and we also have very experienced racers that are patient with our mistakes and take the time to spell things out for us regarding tactics. It is fun to be part of something that is all coming together.
I raised my hand to be the designated rider for Districts this season and was speechless when the team rallied around me to get it done. I’m not the strongest guy on the team. Now the pressure was on. Not from my teammates, but I think all of us do not want to let each other down and that is the reason for our recent success. The registered riders included many strong racers including a very classy reigning Master’s 40-44 RR champion, Scott Giles, who likes to ride away solo. The course and the field suggested a breakaway would be how the race was won. This posed a challenge for us as Team Specialized had several strong riders including Michael Buckley and Jeremy Cottell (world champ on the track) and would likely stack a break and they won this way last weekend at Bariani. Our plan was to have Barbicas and Vigil cover the early moves and make sure Oli Ryan or I were in any strong break. No sitting in for a sprint in this one.
We rendezvoused at Hot Italian in Emeryville at the tune of 5:10 am. President hard man Matt Adams had the pimped out Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffees Toyota Sienna locked and loaded with some proper older school rap to set the tone. We loaded the Specialized Venges and Tarmacs and all of our gear, which takes about a minute with the sweet Toyota ride. We arrived at the race and got a VIP pass to park close to the registration area thanks to having a team vehicle. Membership has it privileges.
MEAT AND POTATOES:
The race started out with a bang with Ben Albracht (Art’s Cyclery) looking to attack. I moved to the front easily on Oli’s wheel as he casually blew by everyone when the heat was on. Oh yeah, this is going to be a breakaway. Oli and I started covering attacks and I saw Vigil get in on the mix as well. Welcome back to racing Danny! Barbicas flatted early, but as always, had a big smile and cheered on the team. I saw him in the neutral zone looking to hand out bottles and cheering us on. Side note, ask Dan about the chunky drink he concocted. A Thirsty Bear rider (Jan) attacked on the first lap and everyone let him go. A Data Driven rider slowly rolled off the front and was making his way to him and this got my attention as we were heading into the headwind section. I was watching for Giles, Buckley or Cottell to go and Buckley was the one. I jumped on his wheel and about halfway across he looked for help. I paused as I was not sure I wanted this scenario, but ultimately decided I was in and would see how things developed with another rider helping us - so 3 of us bridging to 2. Sure enough Cottell and Giles came across with a couple of stragglers and we now had 8 of us - Specialized (Buckley/Cottell), Data Driven (Janke), Team Bike Doctor (Giles), Thirsty Bear (Weisenberger), myself and two other guys I did not know.
Ok, the scenario we kind of predicted happened with a stacked break against Specialized and now what to do? Do my equal share against stronger guys? Sit on? Help a little but save myself? I chose to sit on at first and then help a little here and there pending how things went. Giles, Buckley and Cottell were really driving the pace. Janke was working, but not as hard. Jan was sitting on, the other two guys were working hard and looking to have trouble. The pace was hard and I was suffering sitting on with the gaps forming from the weaker guys and having to pay close attention. I was thinking this is only Lap 1 and I am cross eyed. I can’t get dropped out of this break and how am I going to win from it? I figured Buckley, Cottell and Giles would start attacking each other at some point and I would be in trouble in the process. I found a rhythm by taking softer pulls and staying in the pace line behind Jan and Janke. I would go to the back periodically and eat/drink and skip a turn or two and no one seemed to mind. I could tell that Buckley, Cottell, Jan and Giles were paying attention to this, but no one said anything. Once we had a good gap, the stronger riders were content to allow the paceline to be more reasonable and all 8 of us worked well together riding tempo. I still skipped several turns and started to feel pretty good. Lap 2 was pretty unremarkable until we came through the rollers and onto the flat straight that heads into the start finish area. Giles took some digs here and was hurting everyone with the slight tailwind, but then Buckley got off the front with Janke. They were working together pretty well and a 15 second gap formed and Cottell was sitting on. I was not sure I could hold Giles when he decided to go, so attacked hard and bridged solo over about a minute. Once I was across, I asked the others to give me a minute or two and they kept rotating. Vigil and Barbicas gave me some needed encouragement and Giles joined without Cottell. Good for me and we were on the final lap now. I think Giles sensed it, too, as he drilled it and dropped Janke back to the attempting to bridge Cottell. Now I am in a 3 man break with Giles, Buckley and myself. Still not sure how I am going to win this knowing these guys are not going to bring me to the line for a sprint. Buckley asked me what he should do with Cottell chasing and Giles told him to work or we would be caught by the field and so he did. I pulled through at a pace I thought I could manage and Buckley was doing about the same and Giles was drilling it. I looked back a few times to see that we were not going to be caught by Cottell anyway. We entered the rollers and I was feeling fatigued so just tried to stay within myself. The moto told us we had a minute and I figured we were good to make it and get ready for the attacks. We came onto the final flat tailwind section heading into town around 4K and Giles attacked hard. We covered and Giles attacked again and got a gap that Buckley could not close and I could not come around to help. See you later, Giles. You earned it. Buckley and I rotated for a minute or so and Giles was pulling away, so I decided to make sure I was 2nd. Buckley attacked me a couple of times and I matched it and made sure I was on his wheel coming into the finish. He almost came to a track stand at the 200 M mark and I jumped hard and was able to get clear of him for 2nd.
Pretty soon after I crossed the finish line, the bunch sprint was won by everyone’s favorite crit champion, Oli Ryan. Not a bad day for Team Mike’s Bikes Masters going 2nd and 4th.
Thanks for all of the help from my teammates. I know Oli was making sure the break was not brought back and tried to bridge to give me help. I really enjoyed the race, but the following picture was probably my favorite part of an all around great day. Lots of laughs.