58th Berkeley Hills Road Race, 45+ Cat 4


dan bhrr

ben and dan

Dan Schaefer (45+) – 4th
Serge Plasschaert (45+) – 23rd
Ben Holland (45+) – Pending
Carl Butler (55+) – 15th

Report by Dan Schaefer

I was looking forward to this race since I decided to take racing seriously at the start of the year. The hills east of Berkeley is generally where my cycling ‘career’ began in 1989 as my wife (then girlfriend) raced for the Cal Cycling Team (after my initial introduction into cycling with Ben Holland during the San Luis Obispo summer of 1986) .

While I generally avoid San Pablo Dam Road (2-lane freeway), Bear Creek Road is one of my favorites with steady, even grades (road constructed to build the dams and reservoirs that hold East Bay MUD drinking water) taking three to six minutes each to climb. The course suit my abilities (hilly but not too steep or too long), descents that are fast but not overly technical, and an uphill finish.

With the combined 45 and 55 fields, I had three Christian Cycling – Hammer Nutrition teammates. I had text messaged Ben at 5:15 am to let him know that there was same day registration (we had thought there was none), to which he was able to arrive in time. Our race strategy was simple, sit in and wait. Our major competition would be Cushman Wakefield who had a team of seven at the start, and Zoca (five) whom I saw win the 55+ Copperopolis Road Race in front of Jim Torrence (my friend from Eden Bicycles whom I ride with at the Pleasanton Tuesday Worlds and also in the Berkeley race).

Approximately 65 riders left the neutral start together. Soon after we turned right on San Pablo I see Ben with his arm raised drifting backwards with an apparent flat tire…now we are three. The first lap is rather uneventful with tempo riding over Mamma, Papa, and then Baby Bear. The second lap had Cushman, BBC, and Zoca up front most of the time with Marty from CA also part of the action. A gap opens on Mamma Bear and I see Dan and Neil, CW teammates, sitting up and holding back (blocking? waiting? protected? protected!) while I jump to stay with the front group of 10. By the top of Papa Bear the field had dwindled to roughly 30 riders. The ride down San Pablo was chatty….waiting, waiting. I down my water bottle and take Hammer electrolytes (please no cramping today!).

After turning right on Castor Ranch Road, Henryk Schubert from Cushman launches off the front. Initially the reaction was slow and he gain a 30 second advantage quickly. Slowly though the group pull him back in by the top of the climb. Then after turning onto Alhambra Road, another Kevin O’Donnell from CW launches off the front. This time the orange and blue clad Zoca guys are very attentive and work hard to reel him back in.

On Mamma Bear the pace quickens. Heavy breathing all around. My lungs feel great but the legs heavy. One last Hammer electrolyte capsule.

Descending Mamma Bear I see the two protected CW guys, Dan Wood and Neil Leary, move to the right and onto the gravely shoulder. I jump on their wheel. By the bottom of the decent we are near the front. As the final ascent begins I am roughly 8th. One of the Zoca guys, Rob Easeley, is a little off the front and accelerating with Glen Kinion on his wheel. Soon there are just four guys ahead, three CW riders and Zoca’s Rob Easely who is now alone. I stand to get more power and realize my front tire is deflated. Sitting back down I ride seated past Dan Wood who doesn’t want to let me go until he realizes that I’m a 45 not a 55. I am starting to catch Neil as I reach the line but…no….4th with first a good 10 seconds clear.

I wait after the finish to fix the front tire flat and watch Carl and Serge finish. Ben finishes later after riding the three laps solo. All in all a good day of racing with a larger but safe field. We are beginning to get to know some of the competition which makes the racing more tactical.

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