Monday, May 4, 2009

San Luis Rey Road Race 5/3/2009

By Richard Pollock

Our start today was a little earlier than yesterday and closer to our “Normal” start time at 7:35. The big prerace discussion going on all week was about the course change at the last minute. The course is an 11 mile triangle and one side (The short downhill side), lost its road closure permit. So the new course would be of the “Out-an-Back” variety. Kinda like In-n-Out Burger without the fries! Next were the distances which with the course change were increased for the 60’s (running separately) and the 55’s. This had people freaked out with 60’s doing 45mi and the 55’s doing 59mi. In the end, they were required by USCF rules to stick to what the flyer had for advertised distances.

Schedule was, 45’s at 7:30, 55’s at 7:35 and 60’s 7:40 with women after them. I think everything was about 8-10 behind schedule, but no biggie. The 55’s had 31-33 riders depending on the list, but what I noticed was, all the different players. A lot of yesterday’s “Crit” guys were gone and replaced by the skinny climber types. Which brings up the point about the climbs. This course was a lot different and only a little bit the same as years past. The half mile or so leading up to 395 was eliminated with its climb and the “Roll” upwards after the right turn at the non-top. Also, I had remembered a twisty downhill coming to the golfcourse on the road heading west and wondered how that would be going up. It was not a factor and we went up it at normal cruising speed.

The start was a quick cruise down the “Big Climb” with some very fast downhill tight corners. At least if I get trashed on the climb today, I’ve got the bitchin’ corners going downhill to look forward to. Soon we were on the flat after the left turn, heading towards the freeway and Don Davidson takes off to test the group. The group passed the test and we were all together after about 2 miles. UCC had a fair sized group (8 riders), and would be trying to control the whole program, of that I was sure. Mitch Weinstock, Steve Horine, Reed Moore, Bill Tippets and Mark Huffman would be the designated rabbits and everyone else would be the chasers. The rest of the group contained some real muscle though! Warren Wicks, who won Boulevard goin’ away, Carl Weber, a strong climber from Santa Barbara, Steve Bernede, who we haven’t seen much of this year, TT specialists Craig Jones and Jim King from Utah, and finally, Kenny Fuller and Las Vegas’ James Morehouse who both dropped down from the 60+ ranks to have a race with “more of a challenge”.

We make the first turn around which returns the course to something we’re used to. Then the right turn, the first time up the climb and the subsequent first “Culling” of the herd. I have to say though that the first time up the hill was at a very brisk Warren Wicks pace! I’m still in and after the turnaround at the school, beginning the second lap, the group had lost a few good riders. Mitch Weinstock and Leo Longo to name two. Leo re-caught the group, but Mitch was gone. About a mile after the downhill and left turn, Jim King espoused a few colorful colloquialisms about his flattening rear tire and/or cracked expensive carbon rim. Another 300 meters (Warren, Kal and I were at the front), and I hear the “BAM” of an exploding tire. I assumed it was Jim, but it in fact turned out to be Mark Huffman. That makes 2 strong UCC’s out of the equation. Too bad, but, the field is equalizing. Out to the turn around with a frustrated Wicks doing a lot of work chasing Steve Horine or Reed Moore. I knew the drill and was content to sit and wait. Jim King ended up stopping at the start area and swapped his wheel. The rest of the race he chased and ended up being the last finisher. Mark Huffman was spotted having a severe “Mechanical Tantrum” and packed it in. Ask me sometime about the one I had a couple years ago! Wow, that one was expensive!

Approaching the turn around, Reed was instructed by Kal to “Go again”. Which he did. This time Reed developed over the course of a mile or so, a huge gap (5-600m?) to where he was out of sight around many corners. Normally Reed is not a top contender, but this was a big gap and growing. At that moment, Jim King says to me, “When is the frickin’ racin’ gonna start?” I said, “Soon”. Within’ about two seconds I’m thinking that Reed is too far to let go and I take off down the open right shoulder. As I’m clearing the field, I glance to my left and there goes Kal sprinting down the centerline. I’m on his wheel and we’re gone. He’s got teammates to slow the progress as do I and my hope is that Fuller and Wicks will not bring the whole field up to us. In a four or five man break, I’ll take my chances, the whole field I didn’t need. Kal and I caught Reed and we began to work together with what we hoped was a growing gap. Every time I looked back, I saw nothing. This was good. Very good! We got to the hill and kept the pace, the three of us making the turnaround and then passing our chasers going the other way. There were four and the rest of the group was blown to bits. One more lap. Our chasers were Kenny Fuller, Warren Wicks, Steve Bernede and Carl Weber. Close behind but appearing to be losing contact was my teammate, Don Davidson.

We kept the pressure on for the entire next lap. I stepped up my efforts to a percentage level that was intended to keep us away or perish in flames. We began to lose Reed. And at a few points he was totally gone, but Kal requested we wait. I couldn’t do it alone, so we waited and what Reed continued to do was a benefit to us all and he was a hard working teammate of Kal’s and deserved the ride to the end. No problem. With the foursome that was chasing us, I was sure we’d be caught shortly after the beginning of the last lap, but they seemed to be no closer yet. We were almost there. Now the last climb. I had timed this climb during my warm-up and at that speed it was about 5 minutes and then about 2 from the summit to the finish line. So I’m think 6-7 minutes of the biggest effort I’ve still got in me. Anybody got any EPO? I went hard on this last lap now the biggie. Reed leads for a short distance and then he explodes. He’s toast. Kal and I continue and as Kal pulls through at about .035mph faster than I’m going, the fat lady is about to sing. Do you know what song that is? I now know. I hear a motorcycle approaching from the rear and turn to see Kenny and Warren out of saddle making a “Blast Pass”, as opposed to just overtaking me. They catch Kal who is now about 30m ahead of me. I accelerated as did the 3 ahead of me. Later, after catching Kal on the climb, the preferred method would be to alternate attacking Kal so as not to drag him to the sprint with obvious results. Warren dragged him up to Kenny with each attack and they all hit the line together, oh yea, without me on their wheel. But at the same time, Warren is thinking (my guess anyway), if Fuller attacks, I’m not staying back here with Kal, I’m goin’ too and all this time, Kal is laughing at their battle and getting closer to sprint zone. Optimum for him. Kal won the sprint, Fuller was second and Warren was third, I was fourth and Reed Moore stuck with a strong effort on the climb and finished fifth.

Now I have to mention the 9th place finish by Dale Ludke, the Sprint Wiz! He beat some good climbers and was not back very far time wise. So that was very cool to see him branch out into the world of road racing!

1. Kal Szkalak
2. Kenny Fuller
3. Warren Wicks
4. Richard Pollock
5. Reed Moore
6. Carl Weber
7. Steve Bernede
8. Don Davidson
9. Dale Ludke
10. Bill Tippets
11. James Morehouse
12. Peter Dufour
13. Steve Horine
14. David Shackle
15. Reed Mayne
16. Leo Longo
17. Rino Barbagiovanni
18. George Chester
19. Steve Borer
20. Fred Haim
21. Paul Anderson
22. James King
Note: 8 riders DNF

1 comment:

  1. This is excellent coverage of a very good race! What an outstanding ride, Richard!