Written by Scott Cox
San Ardo Road Race
2016 Masters NCNCA District Championship
40-44 Age Group
A small field of ~15 racers lined up and picked goat heads out of their tires in the staging area while the port-o-pottys were being unloaded. Everything was right on track for another San Ardo RR. The field was small, but I had my hands full with Jonathon Baker (Chico Masters), Brian Zimny and Jonathon Eropkin (Peet’s Coffee).
The whistle blew and we came out guns a blazin’. Well, not really as we noodled out onto the course and up the short hill. It looked like it was going to be a chess match and I did not want to miss out on a move with Baker and Peet’s. An Alto Velo rider rolled off the front early on the first of three laps. Erik Camacho (SJBC) bridged and our pace stayed slow enough to be passed by the early break from the 45-49s. Baker came and asked me to come and rotate a little with him to keep things from getting ridiculous and so I did and Peet’s contributed as well.
We were then neutralized as the main field from the 45-49 field came by. Baker had a spirited chat with the moto and we were stuck while the two breakaway riders were a couple of bike lengths back from the 45-49 break. The 45s moved on and we were back to racing a bit with some half hearted attacks and some surging here and there. We tried to get a pace line going, but that concept eluded everyone so it stayed weird. We could see the 45s main field had passed the break and I could also see the break hanging a couple of bike lengths back from the 45s.
We started the second lap and the Alto Velo rider had been dropped from the break and was done. Camacho was now solo and blood was in the water. We were on the rolling section of the course and people started throwing bombs. It was hard with many attacks that I felt needed to be respected. We were nearing our turn into the crosswind section where I thought Baker would look to cause damage so I hit each of the last 3 rollers hard. Baker did hit the crosswind hard enough, but it was manageable and we were down to ~7 of us.
We entered the tail wind section and still had not made up any ground on Camacho. Wut? So the bombs kept on coming on the tailwind section. We finally brought Camacho back at the end of the second lap.
Back to the chess match and slow pace. Zellers (Lange Twins) started attacking and I covered quickly to see if I might catch Baker or Peet’s out. They responded and so it went. It was hard over the rollers as Zimny, Eropkin and Baker tried to get away a few times and I was able to cover these. There is a small hill about 10 miles from the finish on the tailwind section where Giles rolled away from us a couple of years ago and I was on high alert for Baker to jump. The hill was civil and people were actually on the brakes after we crested the hill. I am not kidding and I thought a track stand could come in handy. So I attacked and when I looked back no one wanted to chase so I bit down and hit it hard with a nice tailwind and the ViAS y’all. My gap was growing so I stayed on it a bit until I saw the gap coming down with Peet’s and Baker on the front. I was being dangled off the front and so I started riding tempo and the gap remained. I was feeling good so I hit it hard again for a minute or so and looked back to see Baker and Peet’s coming hard and I settled in.
Zimny came across first and was willing to pull through. Baker was coming and I waited until he caught on and then Eropkin joined in and a Dominator™ party started. We hit 2 K to go and Zimny was on the front and Eropkin was encouraging me to pull through. Nope. A little reshuffle and Zimny led us home with me second wheel, Baker then Eropkin. We were heading up the final little hill and I had Baker boxed in on the center line and was waiting for Eropkin to jump or the final turn to start my sprint. Eropkin jumped hard heading in to the final left hand turn and I was able to come by him quickly on the inside and then sprinted all in. 20 meters to go and I hear Baker coming strong, but was able to hold him off FTW!