• Race Report: Bariani Road Race - Elite 3

    ZAMORA, CA

    Two Sentence Summary:
    Race: PASS – no real problems in the bunch, active in last 20 miles, made the split, botched the sprint.
    Post-Race Meal(s): AWESOME – cold beers & Mexican buffalo meat tacos minus the tortilla from my Tupperware + chocolate soy milk.

    As it happened
    This was probably the most fun and put together Cat 3 road race I’ve ever done.  I often find Cat 3 races to be incredibly negative, with everything chased down for no reason, which leads to pretty low average speeds.  Not this time.  As I rolled up to the start line, I reminded myself this was my first proper road race in who knows how long (Leesville in 2012?) and I was racing Pass/Fail, so no silly stuff!  Sean W. and Mark D. were with me representing the EBVC.

    The Race started in the early morning light for 70 miles (five laps) on the flat to moderately rolling terrain north of woodland by the 505.  I was happy to see that the wind was moderate, and the forecast was for a warm day. Although I started out with my teeth chattering, that stopped as soon as we made the left turn onto the course with a cross tailwind and some riders started to attack.  After the initial flurries, four riders with the right mix got away, and then their teammates started to set false tempo on the front. I think our field was about 30% squadra, and they were pretty effective at neutralizing efforts by others to escape.

    One the second to last lap, the group reeled in the Alto Velo rider from the break, as we entered the cross-tailwind section (and also the finish line drag).  I thought the race might split, so I stayed near the front and jumped on a few attacks that looked like they had a chance, but squadra did a good job of reeling them all back.  I was a little nervous about burning matches, so I went back into back third of the pack to stay out of the wind, only moving up to the top 10 for the three technical corners over rough pavement and gravel so I wouldn’t have to sprint hard to stay with the group.

    At the start of the last lap, we caught another breakaway rider, and I moved up to the front expecting more attacks.  Three riders went off before the turn into the finishing straight, and they seemed to be working pretty well together.  They had a Sacramento Wheelmen rider it, and three Sac Wheelment in the main bunch tried to block on the front.  I rolled off the front a few hundred meters after the turn onto the tailwind section, got a bit of a gap, and then started to put my head down. One other rider bridged up to me, and then we worked in earnest, and caught the group in front of us to make a group of five.  I looked back and we had a decent gap on the field, and worked well together – we put our heads down and hoped to catch the two up the road.  But there was a reaction from the peloton and I could see it was stretching out.  At this point, although I was having fun, technically, this would be a “fail” as I was not where most of the riders were in my race.

    After my next pull when I went to the back I was surprised to see our group had swelled from five to about 18 – and they all were pretty motivated, with a decent rotation.  A few folks were starting to open gaps, but nobody was dropped, and my right calf was starting to cramp.  But with such a decent sized group, at least I was more comfortably in the “pass” category again.

    To wind up this long-winded saga, we turned into the final straight, the two escapees were maybe 100 yards up the road, and the cooperation fell apart.  I pulled through my turn at the beginning of the straight, and when I pulled off, nobody came around. I put myself in the left gutter (the cross-tailwind was from the right) and waited for somebody to come around, but I was still pulling a reasonable tempo and I was starting to get nervous.  There were multiple attacks, swirling across the road, and I was able to keep jump and get on to them, although I was using up my matches quickly. I totally screwed up though, when the group seemed pretty tired from their accelerations and was slowing on the righthand side of the road. I thought we were 500 meters out (turns out we were about 1300), and I attacked hard from the back, all the way on the left hand side of the road.  There was a hesitation and I did get a bit of a gap, but I totally crapped out, and when the group caught me, they kept on going.  I took another dig and tried to stay on, and failed.  Riders started to crack though, and I passed a few in the final few hundred meters … for a “Passing” 18thplace. I think if I wasn’t a dummy I could have pulled out something more, but hey, I had a great day on the bike and managed to stay out of an ambulance.

    Post Ride – a true race highlight, though, was rolling back to the van to find Dean and Andrew sitting in folding chairs under the shade of the tailgate, enjoying frosty brews that Dean had brought.  After sucking down my chocolate milk and having a few bites of avocado, I sank into my folding chair with a good microbrew and enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories.  Sean, Lucas, and Mark enjoyed pizzas made on site by some artisanal truck thing, and they looked pretty damn tasty.

    Next Race: Lake Sonoma XC on Saturday. Time for some laid back local dirt (keg chilled and tapped on the finish line!)

    - Mike Campbell

    PART TWO

    Well I think there's only a shortish version...

    Yoghurt and granola and a latte before loading the Moto up for the drive.

    2 - Picky bars while warming up

    3 - Roctane gels during the race and a bottle and a half of Pomegranate Cytomax.

    The photographer in me had to shoot the start of the first race.  Great to see Sean and Michael on the start line!  Lining up next to Sean  I saw the break happening when Vataley and Nick Kregger moved to the front of the field before the start went off.  Uh oh!  No way was I one warmed up enough for that nor do I know my fitness lever for playing in a break...  Good choice to just sit in and enjoy the ride.  Nothing eventful very smooth day no crashes easily moved around wherever I want to be.  Then just before the last lap when it was time to think strategy then BOOM the rear tire was flat in an instant!  Day done…. I was on tubulars so I was able to ride the flat very slowly until thankfully the neutral car from the P1/2's came by and gave me a wheel.  The recover pizza (1/2 mushroom and pesto and 1/2 sausage and green olive) and beer was so needed!  Thanks Dean!!!  Recovery mode on the Moto on the way home wasn't ideal but it sure made the traffic on 80 getting to the bridge a piece of cake!

    Trying to pull of Chico Stage Race this weekend.  Will have to be the E'3's because the one day I have of work this week is Friday 😪   Other than that Turlock in two weeks for the 35+ 1/2/3's!  Depending on how that goes maybe Santa Cruz on Sunday.  Haven't raced there since 89 or 90!

    - Mark Dawson

    PART THREE

    My report falls somewhere between Mike's and Mark's.

    The short version: Finished in the remnants of the field, 31st out of 50 starters. No arrhythmias, no bonking, no flats, no crashes. I think that's a pass?

    Some details: Breakfast was a Denny's Grand Slam (scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes) with OJ and decaf. I thought I was going to be able to get to the course in time for a nice long warmup, but as it turned out, I only had about 10 minutes on the trainer (thanks Ken!). This was worrisome not so much in terms of my legs, but my heart - the arrhythmia problems I've been having almost always happen in the first hour, and seem to be related to warmup. One thing in my favor was the lack of wind - I've never seen it so calm in Zamora - and so I knew that there was a chance that the race would not be too hard in the early going.

    I haven't done a road race this long since… I don't know when. Several years. So my other worry was bonking - I stuffed my pockets with about 4 gels, 1 Power Bar, and two packs of Clif Bloks. Plus two bottles of PowerBar Endurance drink. I had one banana just before rolling up to the line. (As it turned out, during the race I ate 3 bloks total, plus 2 gels, and drank both my bottles. That Grand Slam really served me well!) It was nice to line up with a couple of teammates. The race itself you've heard about from Mike and Mark - Mikey was staying near the front at the beginning of the race, while Mark and I hung back and conserved ourselves and got warmed up. Although there were the early attacks, the field was content to let the four breakaways go, so it was pretty easy to sit in in the field, given the lack of any really nasty crosswinds.

    This year's course was different from the last time I raced Bariani / Zamora. There was one road in particular that was both really narrow and really torn up. The race organizers had gone out and spray painted bright green paint around the worst of the potholes and crevices, and that helped a lot, but you had to pay really close attention. There was no center line on this road, and we were taking up the whole thing, which really amounted to only a little more than one real lane anyway… It definitely added some character to the race - this section really had that "spring classic" kind of feeling. One other note - I think it was on our fourth lap, on this particular section of the course, Ron Reade and a fellow breakaway rider from the 45+ 1/2/3 race, which started 5 minutes after us, came through our field yelling at us "Left! Left! Move over!" but unfortunately it was really crowded, and we entered the most chewed up and gravelly corner in the midst of all this. It took quite a while for them to actually get through. Shortly thereafter, on the next road that had a centerline, their entire field came past us like we were standing still, partly because the motos were neutralizing us… Ron told me after the race how pissed he was that neither of the motos would help his break get through our field.

    Anyway, our race only really got hard as we started the second to last lap, when some riders decided it was time to bring back the break. I was still near the back of the field, so did not immediately realize when Mikey got away with one of those groups. But as we went through the start-finish area I was moving up a bit as things were getting fast, and it was apparent that more Squadra guys were going to chase the bridge group which was by then up the road several hundred meters, I thought, "Where's Mike? I'm sure he was in front of me - Oh! He's up there!" Then four more riders from the field attacked to try to get across to Mike's group, gaining about 100 yards on the field. One big guy from Raley's VW jumped to get up to them, and I was on his wheel in a flash. The big guy died after a very half-hearted effort, so after looking back and realizing it was just me that had followed, I went around him and put my head down, and got across to the four without totally exploding. But they didn't seem committed, and I needed to rest. It wasn't long before the field was back up to us. The attacks continued, I was still trying to recover, and a couple of small groups got away, and apparently these are the ones that coalesced with Mikey's group later in the lap.

    At that point, the remainder of the field was content to just ride out the last lap, and after we made the last turn (2km to the finish) we were chatting about the merits of sprinting for 25th place…

    I don't know which part of the aprés race was better, the pizza or the beer. There was as Mike mentioned an artisanal (sorry Dana!) pizza truck firing up wood-oven pizzas to order, with that nice, thin, blistered crust. I had one with prosciutto and pine nuts, and it was excellent with the ice-cold West Coast IPA provided by Dean (thanks Dean - I will make a note to race with you more often!).

    A final food note: I bought a small bottle of Bariani olive oil as a show of support for the race sponsors - they had a little stall set up in the warehouse. Haven't tried it yet, so that report will have to wait.

    - Sean Williams