Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pacific State Bank Grand Prix & Burlingame Crit Weekend

After the debacle at Mt Hamilton where I crashed out of the race before even reaching the second mile (argh), I took several weeks off to recover. Decided to get back into the game with a couple of criteriums this weekend starting off with the Pacific State Bank Grand Prix in Stockton. While warming up it was a bit disconcerting to see two crashes each take place at the same corner in a men's field, so I was glad that our group took the first lap at a moderate pace to scope out the course. Our group was pretty small (a total of 10 racers) so it felt like a manageable field-a good first race to get back "into the mix." A note for those thinking about doing this race in the future: There are quite a few corners in this race, which I found challenging. Some of the corners are paved unevenly, like the one where the two racers went down. Relatively speaking the straightaways on this course seem on the shorter side, so cornering skills and getting well positioned going into corners are key to win primes or finish well in this race. I was glad that we were in a small field. The race really got started when the strong Webcor racer (who I believe had already taken at least one prime) went for a breakaway, bringing along with her another racer. Although only two of them broke away, they did achieve a nice gap and one that the rest of the field was concerned with.

We took a couple of turns chasing down the break successfully, which I must say was really a good workout for me not having ridden at race pace for several weeks! Unfortunately, the race was cut WAY too short (we were supposed to stop at 40 minutes or thereabouts) and the final lap was upon us much sooner than most of us had expected. Although a fun race and great workout, disappointingly, our race ended at about 31 minutes. I ended up with a 6th place finish and $10 which paid for lunch at a local burrito shop.
Burlingame was an exciting fun course! Our race started early (7:50a) which meant one early wakeup (more coffee please!) . Cat4 was a full field (34+ racers starting) and the entire race was fast from the start. All of the corners were pretty nice except for one on the western side of the course which had some dips, and where the pavement was uneven and went from pavement to brick back to pavement again. A little unnerving at first, but I found that after the first couple of laps I felt good riding on the inside of all of the corners. The stretch before the start/finish line is nice and super fast. Getting positioned well before that final corner is key going for a prime or the finish. The pace was strong for most of the race and the race went by quickly. From my vantage point there were no crashes in the field, however, one woman dropped her chain going for a sprint on a prime (ouch!) but she manuvered herself out of the way really well so the field was not impacted. There was a nice-sized crowd and it was exiciting coming in for the last lap. This race definitely has an "event" type feel to it and its easy to see why it's so popular.

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