Teammates: none, Mark Davis (with a sweet Ergomo Pro and the wife unit) in 3 and 35+ 123's.
Friendly rivals: Keith DeFiebre, Rob Evans from the wattage list(finally met).
6/32 - woohoo, finally got a T-shirt.
AC 420 wheel in front, standard PowerTap wheel in back, Michelin Pro Race 2 tires, 100 PSI, no bottles, 50/34 12/25.
Got up at 6:00, felt pretty good with a taper week, but my knee was sore from running a lot (more than I do for cyclocross practice...) during my day as an official at Sea Otter on Friday. The last two years I have done this race I got dropped after three or four laps so I wanted to improve on that and try to not work too much early. Got in a few practice laps at the start of each race while racers were staging for the first two races. I saw Dan Adkins pulled out of the three race and he said he was toast - had felt good and thought he would try an attack late but once he was brought back his legs did not feel so good and he got dropped from the pack. I would heed Dan's experience and not be too bold.
In the elite three race it appeared that the winner attacked near the bottom of the finish straight.
Tom Simonson was the starter and told us to do one final practice lap before staging. Turnout was only 32, perhaps due to the forecast of inclement weather - it was sunny and cool until I left Santa Cruz. Some strong folks who have accumulated almost 30 points in the 4's did not show up so that probably made the race easier than it could have been.
The start finish line is at the peak of a small hill. The course goes downhill for a long ways until there is a dogleg 150 turn to the right that is off camber. Then it goes downhill with some rough spots through a slight turn to the right then a 90 left with a short block until a 90 right, a 45 right, then uphill steep for a bit, a crest with a tiny bit of a downhill, then uphill again until 90 right on the front straightaway, steepest bit here for about 25 seconds, then a dip, then uphill again until the finish line.
The first four laps I stayed in the top three so I could try different speeds for the dogleg downhill off camber turn. The last time I tried to take it really tight but started pedaling too soon so lifted my rear wheel when I had a pedal strike on the inside so I was more cautious the rest of the race. Also, entering the turn I came from as far left as possible not only to get a good apex but to discourage anyone from coming up the gutter on my left where the pavement was rough and I had witnessed a few riders bobbling it early in the race.
It was possible to rest on the first uphill steep bit after the first crest if one was behind people until very close to the finish straight turn ( this was repaved two years ago so that in prior years the road was very rough and coasting did not get one very far back then), and on the finish straight when the course crested for a bit. What happened before the final straight turn is the guys in front would slow quite a bit for the steeper grade so if you were behind you had to brake a bit and lose some momentum as the field spread out and the road was narrow until the finish straight. On the finish straight steep bit I found myself staying seated and spinning the 50/23 while I noticed the most other folks standing and working hard so I thought I might have a good day. The weird thing is I never felt in trouble like I have in some flat crits. As the lap cards counted down I realized my initial goal of getting farther in the race than the last few attempts so now I reset my goals to placing. As everyone slowed down massively on the steep part of the front stretch and this did not feel difficult to me to move up through the field I thought I had a good chance. At two to go I moved from the back up a bit on the steep bit. With one to go, a Cyclesports fellow attacked hard at the very bottom of the hill. I was still only midpack by this point so I bided my time while other riders were slightly pushing the pace at the front and closing the gap. Once we started going up I started passing riders, and pedaling hard where we had coasted before, by the finish straight there were still ten folks ahead of me so I had to brake slightly again. We hit the steepest bit and I really wanted to just go for it but found myself boxed in, when I moved to get out, riders in front of me drifted over several times and I found my bars nearly inside someone elses a couple of times... Eventually I was able to work my way out with about 120 meters to go and started picking off the riders in front of me. I got sixth, missing fifth by a wheel. The guys in front were only a few bike lengths ahead so perhaps if I had gotten a better position or the guys in front of me had just turned a slightly different way...
The NP indicates this was the hardest half hour I have ever done even though I did not feel that spent except for the final sprint. I may need to up my L4 interval intensity because I have been assuming a FTP of 245 from the Monterey Circuit race in February and this data indicates either a FTP of about 255 or a high anerobic work component to the race effort.
Won $10 and a T-shirt. Doug Smith congratulated me and said "You're a pro now." Unfortunately if one includes all the costs I think I am still about $20,000 in the hole. :)