Sunday, February 8, 2015

Knights Ferry Road Race & Redkite Bump Circuit Race by Matthew Sloan

Knights Ferry
Masters 35+ Cat. 3 - 59 miles/2+ laps

13.5 mile out and back course through green rolling hills (27 miles total). It starts at the Intersection of Warnerville Road/Willms road. There was a large field of cattle to cheer us on one section; and the finish hill had enough of a kick to cause some damage. 

Trip up
Matt Wocasek and I drove up together. Fortunately, before leaving cell reception, we realized we had left our licenses at home. Thanks to modern technology Matt's wife scanned and emailed his license, while I went to the USA cycling website and took a screen shot of mine. With our licenses to thrill, we continued to Knights Ferry. 

It started with a break and ended with a break
The race started and finished with Spokesman breaks. Before the race Matt said, "Steve Heaton often starts with a break right from the start." We didn't realize this would become Matt's plan of attack. At the line up there were large contingents from BRE Cycling and Team Sierra Nevada; a couple of strong Mike's Bikes riders: Luigi Zuniga and Chris Hobbs, a couple of strong VSRT/Livermore riders, and others who made up a peloton of about 30. Thankfully, the rain stopped before our race and held off. However, the wind remained strong and it became the deciding factor. Basically the "out" half of the course was into the window and the "back" half of the course, to the finish, was with the wind.

After about half a mile of racing, Matt found himself off the front with another rider, I think, from BRE Cycling. They were joined from a Sierra Nevada rider and one other, I think. I patrolled the front sitting on the  wheel of anyone thinking of bridging up. I was grateful Sierra Nevada and BRE were in the break because they did most of the protecting for me. The break was caught after about 5-6 miles. Another two riders went off--BRE and someone else. They were soon followed by Chris Hobbs. They stayed away into the wind but were caught at the turn around. After another couple of miles, Ben Cannon from VSRT/Livermore and a BRE rider, I think Robert Cannon, launched an attack. Chris Hobbs got back on the front and drilled it. When we went past the finish line for the second to last time, I was thinking, "Wow! this is hurting. Can I keep it up?"

Last Lap
At the turn around, a couple miles after the finish line, we caught Ben Cannon but BRE remained off the front. He was in easy striking distance. I thought Sierra Nevada would just get on the front and reel him in but they didn't. It was exasperating. I could see him getting farther away but thought, "How stupid it would be to go after him into 13.5 miles of wind! How many matches would be burnt doing that?" BRE stayed off the front, Sierra Nevada rode at the front, and Matt and I sat at the back of the peloton cruising in the draft. I started to think about my position for the turn around. I wanted to be at, or near the front, if someone went hard with the wind at their back. I was also feeling frustrated about how Sierra Nevada were letting BRE stay a minute off the front, solo, into the wind! It would be so easy for a team to haul him in.

I voiced my frustrations: "So, are Sierra Nevada racing for 2nd place?!" No reaction. David Allen had cautioned me to be patient but my impatience got the better of me and I threw caution, literally, into the wind. I accelerated from the back and went hard. I looked back, no one was with me, everyone had let me go. I kept grinding the pedals. I looked back. I was further away. "Okay," I thought, "this will either be really stupid or genius. Let's go for it!" I kept grinding away into the wind up the long 5% ascent to the turn around, a good couple or three miles. Farther than I wanted to go solo into the wind. I looked up and I could see I was catching BRE. I looked back and I couldn't see the peloton. "They can't see me!" I went hard, made the turn, then put everything I had into catching BRE. 

I caught him about six miles from the finish. A break of four had formed to catch me: Ben Cannon, Luigi Zuniga, Sean Beck, and someone. I rode with BRE for about a 1/4 mile. I told him we need to ride hard or we might get caught. He wasn't pulling hard enough so I pushed on and dropped him. I looked back. I gapped him by about 50m. The group of four were about 50m behind him. I took inspiration from Tony Martin, relaxed my jaw and shoulders and  breathed deep. I took inspiration from Jens Voight, shut the legs up, and went as hard and as furious as I could. 

I knew if I got to 2KM to go with a decent gap, I could win. The gap was big enough. I rested a touch before the finishing hill and gave it all I could. I looked back. They were gaining on me but they wouldn't catch me, no way! I reached the top of the hill pushing hard, 200m to go on the flat. I dropped those gears and powered to the line. Ah! such a good feeling to see the hard work and training pay off. My legs felt great, can't wait for the TT at Chico.

RedKite Bump Circuit Race, Livermore
Masters 45+ 3/4s - 3 laps


Clockwise loop (roughly 7.5 miles, plus a 3 mile roll out) on good pavement on Patterson Pass, Cross, Tesla and Greenville Roads. The course includes rolling hills and finishes on a short rise (The Bump) on Cross Road just south of the intersection of Patterson Pass. Center line rule in effect throughout the course. If you can’t stay to the right of the line stay home! 

What's the opposite of winning, losing! It was a combined field of 45+ 3/4s and 55+ 3/4s. With many cat. 4s, it felt a little sketchy. The rain, wind, and wet roads didn't help matters. I stayed near the front the whole race. I didn't feel comfortable on some of those wheels. There is a long, gradual 2ish mile ascent that takes you to the finish bump. Even on the first lap, my legs were feeling it. Riders were constantly trying to breakaway but with the wind and no real team coverage, nothing stuck. Until the final ascent that is. Two riders went off the front after the right hand turn into the final hill. Unfortunately, I was boxed in and due to the center line rule I couldn't jump on to it. I also felt they would get reeled in as on previous laps. Not this time. 

No one chased them down so I gave it my best shot. However, the legs just didn't have it. I couldn't even get away from the main group. I tried again to get a jump on the group before we hit the finishing bump but to no avail. My legs were shattered and the riders that were left flew past on the finishing bump hill. 

Never mind, better luck next time. In retrospect, I would have been better off settling to race for third to get some points rather than attempt to bridge up for first again. A very good training race.

1 comment:

  1. congratulations matthew great reports great results exciting knights ferry race thanks for inspiration


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