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Cantua Creek RR / Pine Flat RR / Dinuba Crit 02/19_20_21/2011

posted Mar 1, 2011, 10:43 PM by Unknown user
Race on Saturday wasn't too painful/fast, or at least I wasn't hanging on tooth and nail like usual. Was there at the end in about 10th position with 100 meters to go, get out of saddle to start mashing it up and the freakin chain dropped down to small sprocket!!! Race over. 13th. 

Sunday was a totally different experience - much harder course. Sufferfest on almost every little climb. Pace was pretty intense over all the rollers. I don't think I had recovered from Saturday's ride as I almost got dropped a couple times the first half of the race. Finally, at about mile 50 I lost contact on one of those nasty pitches. Soloed in and rode out the 2 final climbs to the finish. Then collapsed. Man, there were some fit dudes in that race. I was amazed how tough the pace was on Sunday through that terrain. Rather chilly both days, but no rain which was a blessing. Once again, lots of crashes. Got bumped by guys trying to avoid the melee by some poor bike handlers. I was lucky not to go down in both races. What is up with that? That's 3 races in a row that I've narrowly avoided kissing the pavement. I guess I'm just lucky. That's all I have for now. Will see you out there.

- John

This course is a rolling, twisting, smooth pavement, mountain top finish dream (at least for me since I'm a climber). It would be nice if they held this race later in the year for a better turnout.  One of the highlights of the day was watching the Velo Promo van roll over tire spikes, hit a rock and then reverse over the tire spikes in the wrong direction...OOOPS! 25 of us lined up and started up a steep neutral climb (something like 15% for 100 yards) out of the parking lot then we took a right turn and road along Pine Flat Lake. Beautiful course with snow visible in the sierra as low as 3,000ft. Thanks again to Ben Earl for lending me his SLO Nexus jacket as it was about 45 degrees at the start.  The only team I could see in my race were 5 riders from Dolce Vita Cycling. A number of riders raced the day before at Cantua (not including myself) maybe this was why no one was interested in pushing the pace.  We cruised a nice rolling course along the lake turned around then headed back to get ready for the 1,000 ft descent into the valley. We all agreed to be careful as a good friend of mine was involved in a terrible crash on this decent (49MPH) last year with a rider going to the hospital. Once we made it to the valley the pace SLOWED even more.  It felt more like a Sunday 40 mile recovery ride than a road race.  Everyone was talking and joking I realized they were all saving themselves for "the Climb"  we even allowed an open Cat 5 chase group with 5 riders to pass us.  I decided then to pull between mile 35-40 all by myself what felt like an easy spin pace.  At about 45 miles the Dolce Vita guys formed a line and the pace picked up.  I stayed right behind them and as we turned right on Watts Valley Rd. you could feel the intensity build up for the long climb.  Because I had never seen or ridden this course I relied on what everyone else told me about the course.  This 1,000ft ascent was indeed very similar to going up Prefumo Canyon gradual uphill at the start then steeper as you get higher and higher.  I stayed glued on either the lead or 2nd rider determined not to get popped off.  Half way up the climb I looked behind and noticed that the  peloton had exploded and were all spread out only 4 of us were left together. As we reached top we saw a funny looking guy with a black cowboy hat, red t-shirt, arm warmers and sunglasses with a horn cheering us on.  I knew then this had to be the summit!!  We flew down Watts Valley rd and had a rolling twisting descent similar to going down Prefumo or the bottom part of See Canyon.  We formed a 4 man paceline that was determined not to let anyone else catch us from behind.  Finally, we reached the last hill and I saw the 1K to go sign. I just stayed glued on the lead rider's wheel and as we surged ahead we popped off the other two riders behind us.  The hill was similar to going up Hausna but a little steeper.  A friend of mine Van McCarty who did really well in this race a few years ago told me to wait be patient let the other riders tire out and don't make a move till you see the 200m to go sign.  That is when the incline increases to 15%.  I attacked with 200 meters got a 4 or 5 second gap and won the race.  My second road race victory ever.  I've included a couple 5 second videos of what the top of the 1,000ft climb was like as well as a picture of us reaching the summit.  Looks like I'll be upgrading to Cat 3 very soon.  

 - Steve Sharp

The course is a 26 mile out and back with a small climb at the finish. Cat 4's did 3 laps. 78 miles seems like a long race for February. Not much to tell about the first 2 laps. There were a few small 2mak breaks that just died in the wind. On the way back in on lap 3 there were 3 or 4 little crashes caused by slowing in the front of the group and the back bunching up. About 20 meters from the finish a rider 2 spots in front of me cramped or something and just stopped in the road. The rider in front of me and I swerved left to avoid hitting him. I came to almost a complete stop. Once I got going again and crossed the finish line I was in 11th or 12th place. Not sure on placing because Velopromo was having trouble getting results posted. I stayed for about 1 1/2 hours and the finally posted but only 1st-9th. 

After that race I drove to Fresno. I was planning on racing Pine Flat road race and Dinuba crit to finish out the presidents day weekend. While unloading my bike I discovered a crack in my fork. Racing weekend done. I think crack is from a crash in the mothballs crit.

- Brad C