Coming off Mt. Whitney Stage Race (no tactics since all climbing so not sure if anyone wants to hear the report) my legs seemed to be coming around, but I decided to opt for the much closer and much shorter race this Saturday, Petaluma Crit instead of ChallengeRR.
We're Off: With a bigger than expected field of ~35 starters, there were several guys to watch. I drove up w/ Rainer S. & Steve P. (Mikes Bikes), but at the start line several other teams had representation. Most notably were (2) Cal Giant, several Stage17, several Ritte Dev., (2) Cliff Bar, (2) Specialized Masters and a few other teams with 2-3 riders. Rolling solo today, I basically planned to stay near the front and simply follow any move with 3 or more riders containing any of the bike guns. As expected the first 15min had some attacks but ALL were marked quickly, I focused on staying in good position, but not making any big efforts since many other were eager to chase the attacks down. But as usual the chasers lost their steam and attacks were given longer leashes. About 20min in to the 90min race, Jared B. (Cal Giant) way off the front solo and a dangerous move started to establish behind. I jumped across to it and added some hard pulls at the front to increase the gap. The small gap held with Steve (MikesBikes), Blake (Cliff), Pat Briggs, Ben (Stage17), a SJBC rider, and one more rider.
Break: The break rode well together, everyone pulled through with only a few surges and a few skipped pulls. Eventually we caught Jared (CalGiant) and our gap was up to 40seconds. At this point it was clear we were not getting caught, but everyone kept on chugging along. After 45min or so we caught the field. Jared now had Rand to help him out. So Jared could either attack the group again or assume position on Rands wheel for the field sprint. I stayed near the front as the first counters started flying and I attempted to lure Jared into some moves as well but it seemed the others in the break were willing to chase, but not really go for another break attempt.
The Finale: With ~10 laps to go Rand set tempo for Jared and I fought my way onto Jared's wheel. On the bell lap just before the 2nd to last turn, Rand didn't have it fast enough to keep the attacks from coming so Ben (Stage17) attacked on the outside and I followed Jared. I made it through the 2nd to last corner in 6th or so, then there was a bit of who has the racing line debate between Jared & Pat into the last corner so a few of us had to hit the brake. I made it through in 5th, comfortably in the draft for 100m as everyone opened up the sprint. I gave it a go with 50-75m to go, dropping it a gear or two and went out into the wind to try overtake, but grabbed a little too much gear forgetting that I am enduro trackie sprinter and need to spin up a gear rather than just mash away. So I only moved up (or held) to 4th Place by the line about a wheel from 3rd and a half a bike from 2nd. The sprint was pretty wide open and had a long straight, so I was happy to just hold my own in a P12 field sprint.
Result: 4th Place