Seven days post Gila and three days pre Mt Hood, the Berkeley Hills Road Race would serve as a fitness reassurance between major stage races. It was a looped circuit, 17 miles in length with roughly 1700 feet of climbing per lap. Each loop had two short-but-sweet climbs in succession, with the summit of the second climb representing the finishing line. The ascents were named Mama Bear and Papa Bear respectively. A few Baby Bears were scattered around the rest of the course, but didn’t represent much of an effort in comparison to the parental climbs.
Nate and I drove down the night before to the gracious hospitality of Paul and Janet. With eggs and oatmeal in our gullet and an espresso made by Paul that just about knocked me on the floor, we were ready to race.
After the first time up the Bears, Nate and I both sensed we had great legs. However the pack was gruppo-compacto after the first round of climbing. So we decided the only way to dictate the outcome of this race was to drive it from the front. Entering the Bears on the second lap we surged to the front and started trading hard pulls. Hoping to start shelling riders we kept the pace at maximum all the way over Mama Bear, through Papa Bear and down the other side. It was a fireworks display of pure Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries power, with my GPS later denoting our ascent the fastest of the four laps. Nate declared it the “pain train” – all aboard choo choo! It was enough to break up the group, but then the negative racing began.
Shortly at the start of the third lap we either starting catching the Masters 35+ group, or they were catching us. Because of the mix of categories, the moto referee neutralized us for 5+ minutes and the entire peleton, dropped riders included, and came back together. This cycle of catching or being caught by other categories continued for the rest of the race. We would charge hard, drop riders, break up the group and then get neutralized at 15mph by the moto referee so it could all come back together. “Racing” became utterly pointless.
My legs were spent by the end, with my earlier efforts affecting my final kick. Nate passed me on the way up (of course) and we finished somewhere in the top 15, outside the points and outside the money.