Modesto Road Race, 35+ Cat 4/5

modesto

Modesto Road Race Report
Field: Masters 35+ 4/5s (only 4s signed up).
Field size: 16
Result: 9th place
IC3 teammates: Rich Beeler, Mike Creamer

I was a little anxious before this race as my race schedule was derailed two months ago after crashing at a lunch group ride. It took about a month and a half to recover from the broken rib and get my power back. I eased back into racing with a short time trial on Calaveras two weekends ago and Modesto would be my first mass start race since the injury. Having chipped a tooth a couple weeks ago from a flying rock and then getting stung by a wasp on the neck a few days later, both during rides, I figured I’d had my bad luck for the year (bad things seem to happen in threes).

One thing I did to prepare for Modesto was to do a 100-mile solo ride on the previous weekend to get my legs used to long miles. With Modesto RR being 54 miles, I didn’t want to cramp like I did during Knights Ferry. I also raced Modesto last year and was more familiar with the course this time around. I knew it would be flat, windy, and fast at times. Last year, 10 guys broke away during the first lap and were never seen again. I had finished 16th out of 40. This time, my goal was to finish in the top 10, which was certainly attainable given the small field. However, I knew there were strong guys in our field, including 4 guys from Revs Road Race. Two of them were Robb Herrick and Jeff Dale, who finished 1st and 3rd, respectively, in the Calaveras TT. For reference, Rich and I finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Robb, in particular, had the 3rd best overall time on Calaveras, beating most of the Pro/1/2 riders.

Between Rich and me, our basic strategy was that one of us would follow the break, only if Revs team was involved, and the other would stay back to block or sit in. We also talked to Mike near the start line and his intent was to just ride and see how he was feeling as the race progressed. He had some tough races in Arkansas and wasn’t intimidated by the wind. The race started off at a reasonable pace and we were almost immediately neutralized by the Pro/1/2s going through. After the first lap, we began seeing accelerations, with 1 or 2 guys attacking, but getting swallowed up within a few minutes. Near the beginning of the 2nd lap, after the first left turn, I rotated up to the front and as the guy behind me rotated in front of me, a Revs guy attacked. Both of us (me and the guy in front of me) followed his attack and formed a little gap. I was working way too hard, though, and after looking back a couple times and seeing the pack not far behind, I sat up and waited for the pack to catch up. As I pulled over, with the pack passing on the left, a big CW guy rammed into me while passing on my right side. Fortunately, both of us were able to recover from the contact and stay upright. I thought we had lost Mike as I didn’t see him for a while but saw that he was back a few minutes later. Near the end of the 3rd lap, there was another huge acceleration after the left turn on Jackson and I found myself in survival mode, clinging onto the wheel in front of me. At this point, Rich and Mike lost contact with the group due to this combination of speed and wind. Amazingly, Rich caught up again by the time we got back to the start of the 4th lap after chasing by himself for a good two miles, really a testament to his sustained power. Soon after, a Revs guy attacked again and formed a gap. A guy in black and blue kit led the chase, followed by a lab co-worker Brian Spears, with Rich behind him. I followed Rich, seeing if the pack would let us go for a bit. But we weren’t going anywhere, so I sat up again and we were swallowed back up. From then on, I decided to recover and just save a bit for the final lap.

Before the start of the final lap, Robb from Revs attacked off the front and rode solo for an entire lap! We knew this was coming, we just didn’t know when. The pace quickened as a result and as we neared the 1 KM mark, Brian offered to bring me up to the front. Gratefully, I followed him up to about 5th wheel but fell back a few spots as we made the final left turn, into the headwind. We caught TT-specialist Robb just after the turn. At this point, everyone started accelerating and then sprinting as we neared the finish. I sprinted, but found myself in too low of a gear, so sat down, changed gears and sprinted again. I pretty much kept the same position and finished 9th overall. While the result was less than impressive, I did not cramp and was relatively active throughout the race, so those were some positives I took away. As for opportunities for improvement, I need to be more aware of the race situation (I’m much more oblivious than Dan, for example) and need to work on a better jump and sprint.

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