Teammates: (the other) Mark D
Friendly rivals: Eric P, others
50/34 in front and 11/23 in back, and only used the 50 and four gears in back.
The course is roughly a triangle with the start finish straight being all uphill (yay), a short 90 downhill turn to the left, and another 90 but level turn to the left, and a long meandering back stretch to an almost hairpin to the left. I skipped doing this race the first time they held it last year because it was hilly but Juan said it was not that hard and gave me grief about not doing it so I had to try it this year. I am really surprised the promoter is able to do this race as the course cuts off access by car to several stores and a McDonald's for half of the day - that really had to hurt those businesses as downtown Lafayette has a lot of car traffic - probably more than where I live near San Jose. Warming up was kind of tricky as I have never been here before, and as far as I explored, the roads were narrow, shoulderless, full of cars, and hilly, but I was able to find one, more isolated hill that took a good four minutes to crest at the top.
The 4's were doing laps in about 1:25 and we ended up with the same sort of lap times.
There was an accident in the 4's that knocked one rider silly and two ambulances were required to cart the victims away. This delay shortened our race by five minutes and the sight of that always seems to make one more vigilant about safety.
A small group of riders went off the front about halfway through and eventually only one rider was left out there at about fifteen seconds. This was enough time to be out of sight of the pack and effectively ended any chasing. The one downhill corner meant anyone not in the front was braking and the one hairpin going up meant everyone not in the front might be braking as well. At one point Eric P asked me if I felt this was hard and I said no, but looked around and realized we were both at the back of the pack and told Eric to not worry about it as it only hurt on the uphill and he soon was at the front of the pack. Got a bit complacent about position and enjoying the draft too much. Thought about attacking a few times but every time I was on the verge of hitting it hard on the hill there was a prime announced and the pack surged, making it kind of hard to get any separation. The race seemed harder to me than Vacaville but the numbers point it out as easier. With three to go I resigned myself to a sprint finish and jockeyed for position. Each of the last three laps were among the fastest of the race, at one point someone seemed a little too aggressive for 25th position so I backed off and lost my concentration. This was the last lap and most folks were starting from the base of the hill at the hairpin - I think I waited a bit too long thinking it might be advantageous to use other peoples drafts instead of going all out. It is only about a 30 second effort so need to remember that for next year.
Mid pack placing for a mid pack effort.
This was easier than Vacaville and Santa Cruz for me even though I perceived it as hard, not sure if the heat had anything to do with that.
picture of the pack, courtesy of Matt Davis