Body Concepts Bicycle Race Team – Race Report by Ron Faulk: Sunday, May 11, 2014 Regalado Road Race Road Race 45+ 4:
Teammates Representing Body Concepts: Pete Gemmell, Ron Faulk.
Field: Total of 15 registered riders. Small field that was combined with the 35+4, 35+5 and Cat5 groups for a total of 21 riders. New teammate David Austin rode with us also.
Course: Course consisted of 3 laps, for a total of 51 miles. 17 mile loop. Head west from the start on Warnerville, then south on Stoddard, east on Alvarado, south on Ellenwood, east on Claribel, north on Tim Bell (1 mile dirt section) and west again to the finish on Warnerville.
Conditions: Warm and windy. Gusts to 25 MPH at times out of the northwest.
Plan: Stay out of the wind as much as possible. Ride in the top 5 as much as possible. Go to the front when we turned north on Tim Bell into the dirt section. Watch for breaks and attacks and jump in if it looked like it might stick.
Race: The race started out at a neutral pace from the parking lot at the nursery on Wamble Road and proceeded south to the “real” start at Warnerville Road. I had pre ridden the first 1/5 mile on Warnerville and had turned around and pre ridden the finish on Warnerville also, so I knew that traveling west and north we would be getting a pretty stiff head wind. The wind was pretty stiff out of the north west, so we had a nice tailwind heading to the start and then were slowed significantly as we turned west onto Warnerville Road. The race was center line rule, so I planted myself on the yellow line and let others block the wind for me as we traveled west. Pete jumped off of the front as we turned south on Stoddard and rode by himself for a while until we turned east on Alvarado, where he slowed and let the pack catch up. The eastward section was uneventful, but things heated up when we turned north on Tim Bell into the infamous dirt/gravel section.
One mile with two rights and two lefts and a railroad crossing right about in the middle. This section was not as smooth as last year, so we had to carefully pick our lines through the ruts and potholes. And the wind was pretty much directly in our faces or coming a little to the left of a full head wind. I went to the front to stay out of trouble and exited onto the pavement with most of the pack still together behind me.
As we turned west onto Warnerville, I once again looked for the yellow line and let the others block the wind for me. We crossed the start/finish with probably 12 or so riders left out of the 21 total who started this combined field race. We stayed together until we turned north again onto Tim Bell and the dirt when a Fun Sport rider jumped and got a small gap. I chased and caught him along with Steven Aurousseau from SJ bike club. We three exited onto the pavement with about 100 meters on the field, but were picked up before we got very far down Warnerville Road. I stayed out of the wind for the rest of the lap and after a few surges; I counted only 8 riders left as we rode east on Alvarado, including teammate Pete, Steve Mason and Steven Aurousseau from SJBC, Al Dietz from Sac Golden Wheelmen and one Fun Sport rider along with two others.
Al Dietz jumped off the front approximately 4 miles west of the north turn onto Tim Bell and Steven Aurousseau marked him. I saw this as a now or never moment and bridged across, but not after giving them about 75 meters head start. I was able to catch on and started working with them as we built a gap. We had a couple of hundred meters on what was left of the field when we turned north into the dirt. I managed to hang on until we got to the pavement and then we again traded pulls for the next three miles. With about one mile to go, Al Dietz dropped off, leaving Steven and I to negotiate the last mile. I ran through the different scenarios in my head as to how to win, but ultimately was outsmarted by Steven. He planted himself on the yellow line and forced me to either try to follow with no protection from the wind or to come alongside, which benefited him as I would be blocking the wind. I looked back and saw that Al was not going to catch back on at the 1K to go marker, which is about where the road turns up to the finish. I ground my way up, legs on fire with the wind now blasting in our faces as Steven calmly rode beside me. At the 100 feet to go mark, he hit the gas and was gone. I had no response for him and knew that a sprint for me was out of the question at that point. It was really the most pathetic sprint finish you can imagine. And Steven actually asked me after the race why I didn’t sprint. I told him that he had hurt my feelings because I WAS sprinting.
I talked to Pete later and, once he had done his work to help keep me away, was able to win the field sprint for fourth.
Conclusion / Lessons Learned: Opportunities are there if we take them. I had noticed that Steven Aurousseau was particularly strong and so I expected him to try to get into a break or get away at some point. When he went on the last lap with Al Dietz, I almost hesitated too long, but fortunately was able to catch on before they got away.
I have gone over the finish kilometer in my mind 10,000 times and I think that, tactically, I should have been the guy on the left side of the road. Anything to make the other guy work harder than me. Steven had thought ahead and was already there, so that is something I can keep in the back of my mind for a future race under similar conditions.