Field: 35+ 4/5 around 20/35
East Garrison, Fort Ord
IF:1.015(I think I need to adjust my FTP up a bit from 245)
D: 22.0 miles
Used the bike with 50/34 in the front and 12/25 in the back with an AC 420 wheel with Michelin 2 Pro race tires in front and a Ritchey WCS tire in back. Supposedly the Michelin has among the best rolling resistance of any clincher and the Ritchey is among the worst with about 15-30 watts difference with just one wheel - I had neglected in my pre-race prep to change the tire and my other good wheel had an 11/23 cassette so the easiest thing to do was just use this wheel with the Ritchey tire. I had run out of good race tires and did not feel like swapping the good tires around. I considered using the bike with 53/39 in front but thought I might need the little gear to spin up the steep bumps. Compared to cyclocross racing, road racing requires one to wake up pretty dang early, the alternating drizzly and overcast skies had me considering turning around by Watsonville. On the plus side one doesn't have to spend more time cleaning up the bike than racing. It was pretty chilly so I had to wear knee warmers,arm warmers, and a cap. At the line I tried to avoid the bad habit of leading the pack around for the first lap so I managed to keep myself in check for half a lap. It took a few laps to sort things out and get used to the dynamics of the pack, plus it rained intermittently after the first lap, making things a bit exciting. The finish was on a long shallow grade and the short descent afterwards was followed by a sharp right. It was usually easy to goof off in back and catch up right here or the following dip, because the rise afterwards was so sharp that the people drafting and not in first had to brake to avoid hitting the people in front and no one really pushed the pace after the rise. A 150 dogleg right followed this rise with a really long descent with a 30 degree turn into a long slight rise and a wide 180 turn with another long gradual descent followed by a 90 left, very short rise, semi corkscrew descent, sharp short hill, right turn onto the finish straight. We had both lanes except on the long descent where cones marked off some serious potholes. Even after the first laps some not so smart folks insisted on attempting to pass without enough speed to make it past everyone before we got to the cones on the long descent. Then some other folks countersteered really heavily into the *30* degree turn. It was possible to use momentum from the downhill here to pass everyone or in the following descent after the 180. I think we did 8 1/2 laps( start was right before the slight rise and 180 turn). After the first two laps I just concentrated on staying with the pack through the areas I had to pedal hard, the rise before the start finish, tempo on the finish, pretty much sprint on the sharp hill, and sprint like mad to get into the draft on the big downhill. There were a couple of wrecks, one in the 150 dogleg where two riders went too hot and took each other out wide and got back in the race, and on the last lap up the sharp rise a rider went off course and managed to get back on course. I stayed with the pack until the last time up the finish area and just could not manage to hang on there. I could see the small pack dangling in front of me but didn't have the lungs/legs to catch back up so no sprint today. But I was happy with almost finishing with the group this early in the year on a hilly course. I spoke with one fellow and he said a rider was off the front solo for three laps and he could not close the gap by himself and came in second.
Afterwards, explored the roads around Fort Ord and managed to get lost and do parts of the Sea Otter XC (it rained the prior day so the sandy stuff was pretty firm) and the Sea Otter Road Race a couple of times ( the hard part on Barloy ).
Postscript: I just got this book :
and was struck by one of the examples where a coach details analyzing race files to determine why someone was getting dropped. In that case the rider's cadence was going low with a wattage the rider probably could maintain. So they switched the rider's gearing around to a 12-27 cassette instead of the 11-23 and now the rider can keep up with their body's preferred cadence. After being stumped on why I got dropped on the penultimate lap I might have an answer - I may have downshifted too much or attempted to use the gears that worked for me on prior laps and forced myself to use too high of a cadence on a critical section of the course, causing me to lose contact with the field, as the wattage was well within what I had done on prior laps. Of course there's no knowing if I could have kept up with a higher gear but next time...