By Owen McGrath. Photo credit: Alex Chiu
Wow, what an awesome course, probably my favorite thus far. On a map, it’s basically a rectangle with a dingleberry hanging off the left. After the start, it takes an easy left turn, to a hard near-haripin (130 degrees) off camber (careful!) right turn, to another easy left. It was a really cool feature. Throw in a nice kicker on the back side, a 25-30 second climb pitching up to 10%, and you’ve got yourself a helluva bike race. it’s a shame they do it on Labor Day weekend, as I think on a diffrent weekend it would attract more people.
Oh, and it was 95 degrees, oof.
33 man field of 4s and 5s together. No teammates from Dolce in the field, and few friendlies to speak of; Zack Proteau from Mikes Bikes was there. The plan was to just stay towards the front in case the hill split the field but not make any major moves.
As the race started, I felt really good through the turns and on the hill. Each lap I worried about burning too many matches on the hill, but also didn’t wanting to risk being on the wrong side of a split field. On a few occasions I let myself get swarmed and pushed to the back and was able to make up ground on the decent and straightaway.
The race was hard and punishing with the heat. I was worried I was going to run out of water- normally, I can’t even drink half a bottle in a normal crit. Each time over the hill hurt even more, but any time I tried to maintain position or move up, my legs were there, which felt reassuring.
With a few laps to go I was trying to be conservative, sitting in and not making dumb moves. As we rolled around to the start/finish on the bell lap I knew I needed to make a move to get into the top 5 wheels, pushed it, ended up right on the front. Shit- this is the second time I’ve done this. Zack came around me into the hairpin and I was second wheel into the climb, moving up the right side full gas. The big attack came from the left, with guys flying up the hill. There was a crash that distracted me, and as I crested a 5-man selection had formed. I dug as deep as I could, 5 second behinds the break but couldn’t catch on. I did my best to hang on for 6th, but there were two guys who hitched a ride on my wheel to the finish and they came around me. leaving me with 8th. Oh well.
Same positioning error as Berkeley. Going into the final lap, I feel like I can easily sit 10th, or 1st. It’s really hard to carefully move into that 3rd-5th position sweet spot.