21 May 2006

Stockton Waterfront Crit

Cool, intermittent showers, overcast, sort of like last year without the sun.

The forecast and weather radar did not look promising but I had preregistered so I really felt obligated to go no matter what. The course was changed from last year but the flyer was not fully updated. Fortunately my slight OCD made me check the flyer just before leaving and when I realized there were directions to two different locations, I wrote both down and headed out Stockton.

The course was an L with a very short distance between the right left right corners on the crook of the L. Otherwise the straightaways were so long it seemed doubtful anything would stick without a pretty big breakaway group.

The course setup was running a bit behind and the first race, cat 5, was started about 15 minutes late. I assumed they were going to start cutting down races to get back on schedule but this did not happen and things stayed late until there was a late crash in the 45/55 race which led to the 35+ 4/5 race being cut short by about five minutes.

Cat 4
Friendly rivals:Adam from EMC, Jason K from Tieni Duro
It was sprinkling at the start and the roads were pretty slick. I did not feel that comfortable at speed in the corners so I quickly found myself slipping from the front to the back. A few riders were always going off the front and the pack inexorably dragged them back. I kept getting gapped by one rider or another and having to bridge up. The race felt pretty hard but the data indicates it was not that hard, probably just a mental thing. The course dried out about 3/4 of the way through the race. With three to go, a rider in front totally blew and almost took out a teammate of his who asked him to ride steadier. After taking some extra care to get safely past this goober, there was a sizeable gap to the group. I found myself with about eight other folks, four of us got together and tried to get back into the race. After about half a lap we were not making up any ground so one of the guys went off solo to try to bridge. I went a short time later and held back a little which was a mistake because I did not make it up there, falling about 20 yards short. Sprinted for fun against one of the other guys off the back.

35+ 4/5
Friendly rivals:Adam again, John from EMC, Nakamura-san from Trumer
Course was dry at the start then it started sprinkling. Watched the end of the 45/55 race and Mark Patten won the sprint easily from his breakaway companions. He then jumped in our race. I followed him for a bit and he was a much better handler than the four guys leading the pack as they did not have a clue on how to properly setup for taking the apex of a corner. The first third of the race after this felt taxing but doable, then the next third felt really easy, then in the last third, the pace picked up every lap until the three to go when the pack slowed and no one wanted to pull. This was a bit dangerous because this permitted some guys who were poor handlers back into the pack - I think the first race they would have been dropped early. I started moving up, with two to go one unattached rider tried to attack but was brought back quickly and the field slowed down again. I was considering attacking myself by one to go, but we had now slowed so much the entire width of the course was filled during the apexes of the corners which worried me a bit. In the second to last corner I could see five riders abreast when the familiar sound of metal on asphalt and riders scattered everywhere. I had to slow to almost a complete stop to avoid some riders who had made contact and were still moving diagonally across the road and went past when it was safe. Now it was just a 300 meter race and about twenty(?) folks ahead of the crash had a huge head start. I think I passed about ten of them.

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