Rolling into the parking lot of King City’s Keefer’s Inn, on the way to San Ardo Road Race, my carpool mate, Zack Beekler, and I run into some of Zack’s Penn Velo teammates. They’re off to pre-ride the San Ardo course. Probably a good idea, but I say to Zack, “let’s just chill in the room and watch a good Western.”
We get in the room and I switch on the tube, and there it is! I don’t even change a single channel, and “Lonesome Dove”, starring Robert Duvall, without a doubt one of the finest Westerns ever made, is rolling. It’s going to be a good weekend.
Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove. Inspiring.
Just two CWC boys raced San Ardo, Ramsey, and myself, both recent Cat 3 upgrades. Ramsey stayed with the pack and was in good position coming into the finish, but burned his matches a little early and finished 25th in the E3’s. I somehow managed a 4th place in a bunch sprint in the M55+1,2,3 race.
That’s the short, here’s the long:
I debate about doing San Ardo, long drive, flat race, low probability of doing well. But my friend Zack is going, and he’s driving so I think, well, it would be fun to roll down there together, talk s*&# on the way and have a little fun. And besides, I recently pulled off a 6th at Dunnigan Hills, also a sprinter’s race, so I figure, who knows, maybe I can do something.
After watching a good part of Lonesome Dove, we walk across the parking lot at Keefer’s to Laurence’s Restaurant, joined by Zack’s teammates, Mark and Eric. I’m skeptical about the place but they have a salad bar, and some good specials. We all order specials. Mark, Eric, and I go with the Salmon Special, while Zack steps up to Prime Rib. Zack’s Prime Rib is a good 2 lbs. He shares with all and still has enough to pack his belly and make walking difficult after the meal.
We bed down early and Zack and I begin our second major farting contest. The first showdown was at Tioga Pass Resort a few years ago during a Winter ski tour. I’m a Cat 1 farter, trust me. But Zack is, like… Pro Tour. OK, Let’s move on.
The lovely Keefer’s Inn. This is before coffee.
We hit Starbuck’s just as they open at 5:30 A.M. (I accidentally set my alarm 30 minutes too early), and we walk into Denny’s with Starbuck’s Coffee in hand, a classic move I’ve done more than once. The servers at Denny’s seem to understand. It’s unspoken, but they are not insulted when we don’t order Denny’s coffee.
We “build our own” Grand Slam then head off to the race. As we leave the restaurant, I hear the server tell Ramsey and Alanna for the second time, “I’ll be with you in just a moment.” I tell Ramsey and Alanna that I paid the server $10 to tell them 10 times that she’d be with them in ‘just a moment’. We arrive early at the venue, so I doze in the car while Zack gets in his chamois.
We roll out of the start with two guys taking an immediate flyer. We work and reel ’em back in. This is to be the menu for the day. Attack after attack, followed by easy stretches, with everything being brought back. Brian Fessenden, a feared sprinter and one of the best and most experienced Master’s riders on the circuit, tells me that breaks rarely stay away at San Ardo. I listen and dose my chasing accordingly. Brian eventually wins our race, not surprisingly.
During the second and final lap, the attacks increase in frequency and intensity. I know to position myself well going into the causeway before the finish climb/sprint. I grab Greg Bollela’s wheel as we approach the finish climb. Same strategy that got me a 6th at Dunnigan Hills, another sprint race where I should not have done well on paper. I’m second wheel going into the finish climb when all hell breaks loose. Guys going everywhere, I just focus on trying to have a wheel and staying at the front. Top of the short hill is a left turn followed by a 150M sprint. I take the inside line and stand up to sprint. Brian Fessenden, Greg Bollela, and Mac Carey, three of the top BAR (Best All Around Riders) take off and I follow. They actually gap me a bit and I am pushing the wind. As I sprint toward the line it seems like slow motion. Surely a bunch of guys will come around me. But I persevere, keep the pressure on the pedals, turning the cranks over to Zack’s cheers, and cross the line holding 4th place. Zack was laughing at the finish, wondering how the guy with skinny calves is mixing it up with the big sprinters. I have no answer except to say that if you ride smart and dig deep during the last few minutes of a road race, good things will happen.
The not so coveted San Ardo top 6 T-shirt
Here are my 3 tips learned from the weekend:
- Rent the movie/mini series “Lonesome Dove”, settle in and watch amazing and inspirational performances from Robert Duvall and his supporting cast.
- Do not get into a farting contest with Zack Beekler. You’ll go down hard.
- What happens in the first two hours of a road race means nothing. Remind yourself to dig deep during the last 10 minutes of the race. You’ll be rewarded.