Race Report: Cantua Creek Road Race and Pine Flat Road RacePosted on February 21st, 2013 No comments
This past weekend saw the team in action at Cantua Creek, Pine Flat, Coppertown Circuit Race and even in Arizona at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race. While not quite finishing atop the podium, the team nonetheless saw no less than 3 2nd place finishes and a handful of top 10’s in each event, across several categories.
In the following, Isaac Sparling and Brian Schuster recount their 3rd and 2nd places at Cantua Creek and Pine Flat, respectively.
Cantua Road Race (E3)
Words: Isaac Sparling
The 3’s fielded 6 guys: myself, Scott Cole, Eric H, Alex L, Chris Elbo and Ellis. I won this last year in the 4’s, and was the designated dude on the day. I’m a decent sprinter, but only when all the real sprinters are gone, so the plan was to get me in a break and let my boys wreck havoc on the chasing field. Failing that, Eric, Alex and Chris were going to get me into position in the finishing climb, while Eric and Scott played sweeper to the sprint train.
No one has much interest in doing extra work, knowing that we were all going to be doing solid work both today and tomorrow. The first break went pretty much from the gun, getting some time, but not too much. We don’t do anything about it; no way it’ll last the whole race. It gets caught on the climb to the finish at the end of the first lap. Eric, Alex, a Davis Bike Club guy and myself decide it’s time to take a pee break near the top of the descent back into the valley. If nothing else, the chase back on is a great chance to warm the legs back up; the race has been spectacularly chill to that point.
I work back up through the field and have a chat with the guys- I don’t want to do anything until the return stretch – road is narrower. I get to the front, and notice that there’s some antsy-ness. In the bunch a couple guys who want to be up the road with the lead group of 3. Ellis is right there, and I tell him to get me there – 4th wheel or so – which he does with aplomb.
And then I go. One guy follows me right away, and then two more not far behind us. We are now a group of four, and the field lets us go One guy, Dave, (with whom I’d been friendly in past races and who I know is strong,) takes a monster pull, and then I come through and take a bigger one, barreling by the other field on the center line bellowing at them that a break is coming through.
Dave and I look at each other and go, dumping the last two. I need 2nd to get my upgrade, and he’s a bit stronger than me, so I offer him the win if he doesn’t dump me as well. We’re friendly.
With 1km to go he looks at me and says “I’m going for the glory.” I totally get it, and give him the go ahead. As he pulls away, in my paranoia, I look behind and see a guy (Platinum) who’s come from nowhere. I dig and dig but he catches me at 100m, and then pips Dave at the line by inches for first. I finish 3rd.
Pine Flat Road Race (Cat4)
Words: Brian Schuster
Last year I won this race in the E5s – my first and only win – so it holds a special place in my heart and I wasn’t gonna miss it this year. Of course, this also means that I naturally put a huge amount of pressure on myself to do well again… and to be honest, I really wanted to win. Big surprise.
The pace was pretty fast around the reservoir and into the descent, with a few attacks and solo breaks here and there, none of which lasted longer than a few miles. Vitaly did a great job on the front, going off by himself occasionally, getting reabsorbed into the pack, recovering, and then going off again. After sitting at the back for the first 15 minutes and getting yo-yo’d a bit more than I wanted, I decided to move up; being in the front 10 or 12 wheels really helped.
As the first real rollers started just past the turnoff, the pace really picked up. A few riders put in small attacks and soon a group of 15 or so had a gap on the rest of the field. I had to work hard to stay in contact with this group, but I wasn’t at my limit just yet. We caught the last guy out front and it was game on. Graham attacked and put a 15-20 second gap on our group. I was content to sit 5th wheel or so in the chase group, getting as much draft as possible. Nick and Nich were close behind me. I was worried that Graham was using too much energy up there (I really thought he had a fantastic chance to win this), but he forced other teams to chase and allowed us to “rest” as much as possible. Eventually we caught Graham and he latched back on to our group. He grabbed my wheel and reassured me with, “Perfect tempo Brian. Just keep going. Keep going. We got this.”
As a few stragglers latched on, Graham did his best to motivate the group to work and hold off any additional riders. Nick was cramping pretty badly and was in search of extra water bottles; I can only imagine what place he would’ve gotten if it weren’t for the cramps. As the final climb neared, a few guys got nervous and started making dumb mistakes. I almost got taken out by a Tieni Duro junior as he swerved to follow a premature attack right in front of me; another rider cut off Nick and we touched bars and shoulders for a moment (I was much reassured when I looked over to see who was making contact with me, to see Nick and not some random goofball).Finally we hit the bottom of the final climb. The guys in front kept the tempo really high, and soon our group of 12+ was 5. Unfortunately I was the only Squadra left in that group, but we weren’t too far ahead of everyone else. I was deep in the red zone, 190+ bpm, but I told myself that I only had to endure 5 more minutes of pain. After all the work the team did so far, that was enough motivation to dig deep and stick with the lead group. The 5 of us were together until about 100 meters out. I could tell that the other guys were seriously hurting. As I contemplated the right moment to burn my last match to launch for the line, a Dayka-Hackett rider (note: I didn’t see him the entire race) jumped from behind me and went for the line. I immediately jumped after him and sprinted for all I was worth but I couldn’t get around. I finished a bike-length or so behind him and a few bike-lengths in front of the next guy.It’s amazing how 3 hours of racing with so much climbing still came down to the final few minutes, but it goes to show that this type of fitness can really pay off. I am ecstatic with 2nd place, and stoked that Kreeger got 6th and Nich 10th, with Graham right behind for 11th. A truly solid day of racing for Squadra!Last year’s race: http://app.strava.com/activities/4323376With only two races so far this season, I find myself with 16 points (two weeks ago I had 6 points). I am very excited to progress, but I am also somewhat terrified of the 3s and not quite ready to make that jump. I also really want to pay my dues and help fellow E4 teammates onto the podium after being supported to two of my own. The season is young and I’m looking forward to the next few months.