Body Concepts Bicycle Race Team – Race Report by Ron Faulk: Saturday, April 19, 2014 Copperopolis Road Race 2014 Road Race 55+ 4:
Teammates Representing Body Concepts: Jack Wenzel, Matt Conidaris, Randy Floyd, Ron Faulk, Will Parks.
Field: Total of 24 registered riders. Solid field. Good climbers present.
Course: The Copperopolis Road Race 2014 Course consisted of 2 laps, for a total of 42 miles. 21 mile loop with one significant climb beginning approximately 4 miles into the loop. Flat with rollers for the next 10 miles or so. One more lesser climb approximately 5 miles from the finish with a sketchy descent on a potholed road. 90% of the course is
bad to horrible road conditions with plenty of potholes. More potholes than road in some locations. This year, though, the county seemed to have patched the bigger potholes and the course did not seem to be as bad as it had been in previous years..
Conditions: Sunny and warm. Minimal wind from the west/north west.
Plan: Hang on up the first climb and then assess the situation once the group started across the valley.
Race: The race started off at a reasonable pace until we hit the base of the first climb on Rock Creek Road. Joe Fant from SJBC then went to the front with a Monta Vista Velo rider and took over the pace making up the climb. I was able to sit 4th or 5th wheel as they did not seem to be hitting it particularly hard just yet. Chuck Spiteri from Pen Velo also was there along with Randy Millard from Victory Velo and Bob Montague from Spokesman Bikes. We topped out and started across the valley in a group of 13. I looked around to see who had teammates and saw that SJBC had two riders along with Monta Vista Velo. My goal at that time was to sit in as much as possible and watch to see what happened. Nothing interesting occurred on the first lap except for a few half hearted attacks from Monta Vista Velo, which were shut down quickly. We crested the second, smaller climb together and started down the ridiculously rough descent toward the start/finish as I slid to the back and then off the back to try to stay safe and pick my own lines down the hill. For anyone who has not done this one, that is the point where you ask yourself why you came out to do this terrible race. The entire bike is rattling, your teeth are rattling, eyeballs spinning around in your head and you are sure that the bike is going to explode under you due to the rotten condition of the road. The Copperopolis road surface is not as bad as Leesville, but it surely is a close second.
Our group of 13 stayed together through the start finish and into the second lap with the climb coming up again. Once again Joe Fant went to the front and led us up the climb with Chuck Spiteri on his wheel. I watched from third wheel as they tried to pry open a gap, but were not able to get more than 40 or 50 feet in front of us as we hit the top. I checked my Strava segments after the race and saw that we actually did go faster up the climb on the second lap, but just by a few seconds.
Once we hit the top, I counted 8 riders total, with two dangling about 200 yards off the back. I notified the pack and tried to get a pace line organized so that we could keep them away, but no one was interested and I wound up off the front by myself as we came to the left hander at Hunt Road as the two off the back caught back on . Bob Montague had asked me if I wanted to try to get away at that point since there was a little head wind and we might be able to surprise the pack. I declined but now am not sure if that was the right thing to do. We might have been able to stay away, but I’ll never know.
As we started the last smaller climb about 5 miles from the finish, Chuck Spiteri went to the front and drilled it, trying to get a gap and get away. I was second wheel and watched him, looking for signs of fatigue as he got closer to the top. Sure enough, he started sagging and as we closed in on him, I was able to get by him and get a little gap right at the top, but it was not big enough to get away. The pack caught me, passed me and dropped me on the descent.
I was mad at myself but thought that maybe I could chase back on at the bottom and mix it up in the sprint. Head down, full gas, 40 miles an hour later I just caught on at the 1K to go sign. I was very lucky that they sat up a little.
I sat in for a few seconds, moved over to the right and started my sprint at the 200M to go sign. A long way out for an uphill sprint, I know, but I was not sure what was going to happen and didn’t want to leave anything on the road. I passed a few riders, squeezed past Chuck Spiteri and had 5th place to myself right up until the last three pedal strokes. That is where my legs said no and Doug McKenzie from the Fightin’ Bobas nipped me with a bike throw.
So 6th place is what I got.
Conclusion / Lessons Learned: After thinking about the Copperopolis Road Race 2014, I know now that, if there is a headwind on Hunt Road, I need to find someone to work with to get away. Even if we are caught, we will have possibly split the field up a little and can then sit in until the final climb and take our chances.
Major lesson I learned is that I need more confidence on the descents. Too much energy wasted chasing back on when I was dropped on the last lap.