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Monday, February 26, 2007

The Spring Openers ~

[this'll be on ncncaracing.com with some pics, but thought i'd blah it out here, too]

Snelling is the official big-bang starter of the NCNCA's racing season. Hundreds and hundreds of racers pour into the little cow town to shimmy into their spandex and race furious around the quiet farmroad circuits of rolling hills and exposed, pock-marked flats. This year we had near-perfect weather for the Saturday events. The first wave of categories had low 40-degree temperaturs and moderate-to-light winds to greet their starts. The fields were all full to entry limit and much anticipation of fast, hard riding was sparking through the rows of riders as they awaited their starting whistles.

At Snelling there is a promenade on an open-to-traffic road until you reach the closed circuit. On the racing circuit itself, local traffic is sometimes found on the course, but otherwise it's an open-road event for you and your field. Exciting and a rare luxury, indeed! But, after you get done with your race ... you've got to ride back on the open road to get back to cars and (hopefully) to pick up your (in)famous Leibold t-shirt.

The first wave of racing categories went through without incident. There was smash-mouth racing taking place all over those country roads. The category 4 event saw a small breakaway ride away from a big field with a 3-Pillar rider winning it, I believe. In our 35+1/2/3 race we also had a nice little break motor away to contest the win. In it were Mike Hutchison of Spine, Nathan Parks of EMC and goofy-ass me. We rode it well lubricated and ended up having a little 3-way sprint to decide the goodies. Yay for me in nipping out just ahead of Nathan and Mike. Good fun.

The women's category 4 event was split into 2 fields because of the high number of entrants. Both groups were motoring along nicely, I must say. I didn't get to see who won the finishing sprint, but I know it was a full-gore dragfest to the line. Snelling is definitely one of the more tactical sprints we see in road races. The fight for position through that carnage-row approach is intense as riders rattle over the central valley cobbles (also known as potholes). Then you've got a tight right hander that shoots you straight to a rolling uphill, headwindy finish that is waaaay longer than you think it ever could be.

Hard.

And after the race, we're all so giddy with appreciation of how we made it through and maybe had a few personal or team moments of accomplishment and enjoyment. We like to join up with our friends and fellow racers and talk wild about how much frickin' fun it was. So cool ... but, we also have to remember that the day goes on and there are things we need to be respectful of.

We need to clear roads and not block traffic in huddles of conversation after the finish line. We need to not distract officials trying to record 800+ finishers as they swarm across in packs or dribble through in desparate one's and two's. We, ESPECIALLY, need to respect the drivers on the open roads and try and ride as far to the right to allow them to pass.

Sometime in between the waves at Snelling on Saturday, somebody drove out on the course and tossed down a boxful of tacks. This took out dozens and dozens of riders with flats throughout the second wave's racing categories. Such a frustrating and embittering thing to have happen. I mean, we bring in a crapload of dollars to towns like Merced ... taxable revenue for their communities and yet we have somebody feeling the need to toss out tacks on the road? Bizarre. But, I'm not sure we can argue reason with a person who will drops tacks (or manure!) on a race course.

What a person like that sees is us riding 3 or 4 abreast on their roads. Yeah, we're only slowing them down for a minute, or two ... but, it's something that is just as frustrating and embittering to them as tacks on the road are to us. Silly, but true.

So please, when you're at your next bike race ... please, for all our sakes ... ride as far to the right as possible and be cognizant that these folks driving past don't see the suffering and beauty of our sport. They don't know about how perfectly-timed your attack was or any clue as to how mind-numbingly difficult it was sticking in that gutter-fest eschelon. They have no appreciation of any of that. All they see are some spandex covered yahoos blocking their roads.

And all we can do is try our best to get out of their way. Because they will, more than likely, never understand.

Anyway, back to the racing ~ The women's Category 3 event was a complete hammerfest. Santa Cruz Spokesman rider Natasha Perry was able to win out of a small break. The break went away at the beginning of the 3rd lap and there was a chase attempted by the remainder of the pack, but the hard riding and flats had already eliminated a good number of riders - so, the break continued to make time. Two CRC, Divenyi and Burnett I think, were in the move and almost were able to come around Perry in the sprint. But, the Santa Cruz rider held them off and took her second win of this early 2007 season. It was a great race.

In the women's Category 1/2, Jill McLaughlin of Touchstone bridged across to a dangerous break of PROMAN's Emily Zell, the new VAC rider Courtenay Brown, and Tibco's Katie Lambden. The break drove it very, very hard and had plenty of time to play out the winning move. In the end, it came down to a 4-up sprint between the riders. Zell had to be favored in a sprint, as she's already shown she can be a fast finisher. But, VAC's Courtenay Brown had won a long sprint prime at Martinez a couple weeks back that signaled a good kick, as well. But, it would be McLaughlin having just that little bit remaining in the tank to overtake the Proman rider, Zell and win this latest edition of the Snelling Road Race. It is very good to see the NorCal women's racing being aggressive and fast. It's one of the best regions in the US to race for fun, or have fun developing into an elite-level rider. All you need is to be willing to suffer ... to go out there and make the pain your own.

One rider who is all about the pain is Symmetric's Eric Wohlberg. This guy is riding his own personal Tour of California right now. In the Pro1/2 event, Andy Jaques-Maynes was off the front with Eric for a couple early laps. The field (or those surviving the tacks) chased and chased, rider after rider burning their engines red to keep the CalGiant rider and Canadian in sight.

More laps would roll through, with small breaks shooting off and being chased down ... nothing sticking until the beginning of the final lap. Through the finishing straight, the crowds would see a move with 3 CalGiants, Wohlberg, an Easton and Lombardi rider edging away from the pack. CalGiant's Devon Vigus would grab his first win of the season, I'm sure getting a ton of help from his teammate, Ironman Hunt in that break. Good to see.

ok, enough blah, blah from this end.
hernanadork out.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Chico Road Race has had a long history of being marred by someone planting tacks on the course a while ago. After not being on the calendar for some time, the race is back on the end of this year.

emily said...

awesome reporting! maybe a career move is in order... :)

Anonymous said...

Jrs?

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

5s, 4s, masters....everybody.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

juniors ... ah, crap.

not a bad race, actually. Tiene Duro had a boy off, driving hard for a lap.

Spine's Reno-stud Joe Trujillo was chasing through the finish area last time I saw.

I believe there was a field sprint for them ... but, was fixing Sabine's tack-induced flat tire when they finished, I think.

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

i thought he was asking if it was the juniors clogging up the roads.

a logical assumption on my part, don't you think?

Steven Woo said...

http://www.ncncaracing.com/reports/2007/0224_snelling.php

Thank you.

banks said...

Great read. Thank you

Vera said...

Thanks for writing such great reports! I like the women's coverage. Sadly, the two CRC women were not myself and Molly Burnett, but rather Virginia Perkins and Molly. I was off the back. Thanks!!