Last weekend marked the return of the Foothill College Circuit Race Race, presented by Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club. And, amazingly, I was there! Race reports aren’t really my thing, but since Norcal Cycling News managed to write a weekend race report purporting to cover this race without actually writing about it (great photo notwithstanding), I will take up the slack. This is the first, and may well be the last time this year I lined up at a road race, let alone “covered” one (my race coverage is as good as AT&T’s coverage in San Francisco).
The course: 1.09 miles, clockwise around the campus, 60(ish) feet of climbing per lap, several turns but no corners. So call it a crit, or call it a circuit race… But I called it a good warmup for ‘cross season. Although Foothill College has hosted a race in the past (see above!), the FCCR is essentially a new event run by Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club.
They started late. In fact, they started so late that I could have made it on time to race it, if only I was allowed to. Which I’m not. In any case, John Luk was easily recognizable in the pack by his extremely-aero-position and extremely-neon-tires. After the race, he said that he “didn’t need to do anything the whole time,” I think I’m learning about this road racing thing, little by little.
Up front, “newbie” road racer Colin “Sup Dawg” Daw (Wheel Away Cycle Center) was laying down what I can only assume to be a conclusive smackdown on the field. I didn’t actually see, but considering all his Strava KOMs, I’m just going to extrapolate and say that he casually rode away from everyone and then probably did a few repeats on Bohlman as a cool-down*.
* I can also report that after Foothill, Colin made the move to the 3’s and promptly took second in the Patterson Pass Road Race. Nice!
You know, the one that matters. First of all, I must thank the organizers for putting the 5 race after the 4 race. Normally. the scrubs are the ones that get shafted with the early start times, especially in cyclocross. But today we got that crucial extra hour over the 4s for some mysterious reason. I’m certainly not complaining.
At the start, Chris “Hot Lava” Evans (Webcor/Alto Velo) reminded me to reset my Garmin so that my Strava ride didn’t include my warmup. “I didn’t warm up,” I replied. I mean, I do all the warming up I need on the drive over, or in the porta-potty closest to the starting line (I once set a “PR” minutes before the start of the BASP Golden Gate Park race). In any case, we’ve all read the article by now that says that shit doesn’t work, right? I thought so.
The race was to be run neutralized for either “the first lap” or “until the fountain”, which was fine by me. The course ran clockwise around the campus, which is normally against the flow of one-way traffic, so it was (nearly) everyone’s first time riding the course. A little recon was definitely welcome. Even so, I thought the fountain “bottleneck” that they kept warning us about was much ado about nothing. Maybe the organizers wanted to avoid a Cat 5 freakout-into-yardsale. I don’t know! As soon as we hit the first climb, it was pretty clear that things weren’t neutral anymore, but since this was not cyclocross, people were happy to keep the pace down a bit. The first thing I noticed is that the steep-looking first part of the climb wasn’t so bad, but that the rest of the climb actually went on a lot further than it seemed.
In any case, round and round we went, until three or four laps in when I found myself on a wheel that was headed off the front. After a few seconds, the guy made motions like he wanted me to work, so I obliged. Well, sort of. I actually just came around him and backside of the course, then opened the throttle. Of course, nobody chased, because that would be stupid. I mean, that guy is so dumb going off the front so early like that, right? Well yeah! I knew that I was far from the strongest guy there (ahem, Chris), and I sure wasn’t going to be the smartest either, so I decided to just have some fun. After all, most of us are going to finish mid-pack, so why not finish mid-pack after actually doing something? Around the back and over the start/finish line I went, without looking back, and then down the descent and around the fountain into the climb. At this point, Chris Evans (Webcor/Alto-Velo) appeared on my right.
“You know,” he said, casually, “I don’t think the chances for our break are very good.” Well, that was for sure. Shortly thereafter we were swallowed up, and I rode out the rest of the race with a few less matches, but the satisfaction of getting Sheila Moon Racing some TV Time. Afterwards, Chris remarked that he “just pedaled up” to me and “didn’t have to work” to do so. It’s nice to know that I posed that much of a threat.
I eventually recovered from the redlining I had endured while off the front, just in time for the speed to ramp up towards the finish. I didn’t position myself far enough forward before the last bit, so nothing exciting was going to happen. In any case, Jacob Jedlicka (Uzbekistan Express) won, followed by Jesse Mayberry (???) and Justin Balderston (Unattached, but let’s say Mike’s Bikes). I came in 13th, claiming that I “didn’t sprint for 10th.” I think Chris claimed the same thing, except that he actually did come in 10th. So there! (Also: Please upgrade).
I also learned that I can explain away all failings to secure a good finishing position by saying that I misread the end. So that’s what happened, and I’m sticking to it. Speaking of misreading the end, I just found another photo of the finish that shows what it actually looked like. Not even close! Well, maybe it was for second and third.
Things got off to a fast start in this race, with several attacks going off within the opening laps, including Matt McNamara (Sterling Sports Group p/b Sendmail p/b Himself).
McNamara wasted no time to take a flier!
This race was fun to watch, because it was obvious to my barely-trained eyes that “racing” was actually occurring. In any case, the break eventually got too big and the race came back together. Either too many passengers got on and slowed the break down, or maybe everybody “bridged up” until there wasn’t anybody left back in the peloton. I’ll leave it to somebody who knows what they’re talking about to make that call.
Then, something unusual happened. I was just being a layabout by the Start/Finish line (not unusual), when a rider came across the line with a flat tire, and having one available in the pit. So, in a much-less-amazing version of the should-be-famous Bobby Julich/Tour of California story, I volunteered mine…
And with the free lap rule in effect, Josh Dapice (Audi Cycling Team) got right to work, sending himself and My Rear Wheel (Shimano Wheel Technology p/b Slonie) off the front for three laps in a row on his way to finishing in the top ten of the Cat 2 field. Well-played, Josh. We’ve collaborated on the next level of spectator excitement: Sending our own equipment into the race and watching it go around and around!
Matthew Carinio (ArtsCyclery.com/Wild Horse Win) won the race. Congratulations, Matthew! Looks like you had plenty of time to celebrate.
I actually missed the start of this one because I was out riding singletrack on my road bike and picking blackberries instead of paying attention, but I figured it was an hour-long race and would take a while to settle down.
By the time I got back, the field was circling around, content to let the Charlie Avis (Trek Livestrong U23 Team) have a casual training ride off the front for the better part of the race. I think he pulled off after his workout was done, finishing last (but first Pro, which is pretty PRO, or something like that) and letting the guys with real jobs race. Among them was Bill Lloyd (Six Fifty Racing), whom I mention because I am incredibly biased.
When the pack was together, I took a little bit of time to think of something to heckle Rand Miller (Webcor/Alto Velo) with. Finally, I decided on “No donuts for sitting in!” but the pack came around again, he was off the front. Well, damn. Rand: 1, my attempt at heckling: 0. Twice over the course of his breakaway, lone riders bridged up to him with hopes to “Pull a Reaney,” presumably. But neither was successful in staying with Rand, who dropped each of them handily. I got the feeling that Rand would rather come in last than come in second in this race…
And, well, that’s what happened. The pack caught Rand at the bottom of the climb, and it was game over. William Myers (Fremont Bank Cycling Team), James Mattis (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), and Matthew Carinio (again! ArtsCyclery.com/Wild Horse Win) made up the top three in a finish I couldn’t see from my position at the most-sunburn-prone part of the course. It looks from this photo like it was very exciting.
Josh Dapice (Audi Cycling Team) was also in the mix in the Pro/1/2 race, although he didn’t have my rear wheel anymore, so he didn’t win. Special mention also goes to Steven Woo (Third Pillar), who seemingly contested every single race (including women’s and juniors), while still taking photos of every race. I don’t know how he does it.
All in all, it was a great day. I finally met Yukie Nakamura (elusive as she isn’t), along with Spanky (and his awesome Porsche). Everybody I talked to seemed really happy with the race, and I hope that it has a long future. It also didn’t hurt that they invited Chairman Bao and a gaggle of other food trucks, proving that somebody at LGBRC knows what’s up.