Body Concepts Bicycle Race Team – Race Report by Ron Faulk: Saturday, April 26, 2014 Wente Vineyards Classic Road Race Road Race 55+ 4:
Teammates Representing Body Concepts: Jack Wenzel, Matt Conidaris, Ron Faulk, Will Parks.
Field: Total of 47 registered riders. New BC team members Damien Anderson and Tom Wood were also present at this race.
Course: Course consisted of 3 laps, for a total of 45 miles. Three lap course with one significant climb which is also the finish climb. The race starts on Greenville Road, with approximately 4 miles of riding before the race reaches the top of Carroll Road, which is where the finish line is located. So our category climbed Carroll Road 4 times..
Conditions: Cool and partly cloudy. Slight breeze
Plan: Hang on up the main climb and watch for breakaways. Stay top 10 as much as possible and keep an eye on the stronger climbers in the group.
Race: Our race started at a moderate pace until we hit the main finish climb on Carroll Road approximately 4 miles into the first lap. At this time a group of about twenty five riders raised the tempo a bit up the hill and over the top, breaking the field up. I found myself in a pack with riders I had raced with the weekend before at the Copperopolis Road Race. I knew also that Harold Reimer was somewhere in the group and I knew that he is a strong climber, so I watched carefully to see what would happen. I found out later that Jack Wenzel flatted leading into the climb on the first lap, so then I knew that we would be down one rider. As we topped out at the highest point of the first lap and began our descent on Flynn, I was feeling okay and thought that it would be a good idea to stay out of trouble, out of the wind and conserve as much energy as possible for the later assaults on the finish climb. I was mid pack as we reached the bottom of the main descent and made a sharp left on Flynn. At this time, I over shifted my rear derailleur and jammed my chain. I tried unsuccessfully to free it by pedaling it out, but finally had to jump off and assess the damage. I got the chain loose and freed up, but by this time the pack was up the road and out of sight. Great, now I am going to have to chase. I jumped back on and hammered up the road for a few hundred yards but could not see the pack just yet. At this point I was sure my day was over and I began thinking about waiting for following riders so that I would at least have someone to ride with for a while.
I settled back into more of a time trial effort and lo and behold, I finally spotted the main group up the road 300 or 400 meters in front of me. Now I am thinking that maybe I might be able to catch them if they would just sit up a little. The area I was chasing them in was mostly uphill at this point, and I hoped that I would have enough gas to catch on before the top so that I could rest up for later. I tried to maintain a steady time trial tempo and, as I got closer, I found myself behind a group of 4 pro riders who were off the back of their race and were now just leisurely finishing up their laps. I am not sure how many they were doing, I just wanted to get around them and onto the back of my group. Our motor ref was shooting the breeze with the pro riders as I caught up to them. I asked politely if they would please move over so I could get by, but they ignored me until the motor ref told them to give me some room. Then he laughed at them for being caught and passed by a 55+4 geezer.
I got by the pros and, just as I my fuel gauge was reading empty, I caught onto the back of my group. I knew that I would pay for burning the matches that I did, but I had no one to blame but myself. I had already spent enough time calling myself names for being an idiot and not shifting properly, but now I needed to figure out how I could make the most of the fact that I was still in it. I saw that Will Parks was in the group, so that made two of us and I thought that maybe we could do some work together later in the race.
As we came around and climbed Carroll Road the second time, I was feeling okay and was able to make it up the climb and around the course to the beginning of the third and last lap with no incident. I saw that Will was no longer with us, so I sat in as much as I could and tried to save what little energy I had. The third time up the Carroll Road climb, Harold Reimer attacked from the back of the pack and really drilled it. I found myself on my limit immediately and fought to stay with the remaining riders to the top of the climb. I reached the turn over Hwy 580 about 100 meters off the back and this stretched out to 200 meters and maybe more before I knew it. This time I was positive that my day was over but I kept fighting. Bob Montague came by me and told me to get on his wheel, but I couldn’t even do that.
Mouth wide open, tongue out, crazy suffering pain face. Yeah, I did all of that. For a long time.
I finally hit the highest point of the course and, much to my surprise, heard a voice behind me say, “Good work, nice pull, now we will work for you”. It was my pro buddies from the first lap still slogging around the course. The same four guys were still together. I saw that I was still 200 meters or so off the back and knew that I should not accept help from another group, so I thanked the guy and told him that I would have to try to bridge on my own. I took some chances on the descent and pedaled everywhere I could to try to bring them back. Luckily for me, the pack took a break from killing it and I was finally able to catch on after chasing them for what seemed like 15 years, but it was probably 15 minutes. Still hurt a lot.
So now my box of matches is about empty. I hung in the pack, hid from the wind and waited to see if I could get lucky on the last trip up Carroll Road. Not a chance. We hit the base of the climb in a group of 16 or 17, I think. The strong ones pulled away and I held on for 11th.
Conclusion / Lessons Learned: Focus and concentration are overlooked sometimes in bicycle racing. If I was paying attention to what I was doing, I would never have jammed my chain and derailleur. Chasing back on cost me a lot of energy, which I definitely needed when Harold Reimer attacked at the beginning of the third lap. I’ll never know if I would have done any better, but I like to think that I might have if I had been able to sit in and save myself.