Stage 1 Criterium:
I have had ups and downs on this Crit (really a circuit) course. I won the Cat 3 race, but the last two years I have been dropped and crashed in the Pro field. The course is not friendly because it bottlenecks on two U turns per lap. Even sitting 10th wheel you nearly come to a complete stop…then bam…time to sprint uphill! Strung out like a meth addict. My main goal for the race was to give myself a chance at a podium finish for the overall GC. This meant stay safe in the Crit and don’t allow time gaps. I started at the tail end of the field and had to burn some matches to move up to the top 20. I successfully moved up to the top 20 about 10-15 minutes in and quickly noticed the races typical implosion as groups were scattered off the back of the main peloton…it doesn’t take long. After settling down, I figured I would try my chances at a break, but immediately realized there was too much fire power and very little hesitation to follow moves in the first day fresh field. I spent the remainder of the race protecting my skin and conserving for the next day’s Road Race. I gladly sat back to watch the scrum at the front of the field for the final u turn and sprint finish. Cole House (Cash Call) was able to pull off his best Heisman impression and sprint for the win.
Stage 2 Road Race:
The Fort Ord Road Race is one of my favorites. I had some demons to overcome as last year a huge pile up on the downhill rollers cost me my bike, some skin and a broken ankle. The course starts with the typical pushing and shoving as we head out of Laguna Seca and down a neutral descent into the Fort Ord loops. Kirk Carlsen (Predator Cycling) and I sat at the back and laughed at the sketchy moves people would make to move up. Once we hit the first climb the race begins in earnest. The first lap was fast with the bigger teams trying to get guys up the road in the days break. Once the break was established Cash Call took over the pace making for a majority of the day with occasional help from Jelly Belly. Once settled in, I concentrated on fluids…lots of them. This race seems short and not that hot, but it’s the combination of humidity and short power climbs that will rob your legs before the end of the day. We caught the break leading into the final climb and actually didn’t catch Kennet Peterson (Rio Grande) until half way up the climb. I felt awesome as teams kept the pace high. The eventual race winner Alex Hagman (Jelly Belly) attacked and Kirk Carlsen followed. I looked up and saw Kirk drilling it inside 1k. I underestimated myself and waited for other teams to take up the pace…which didn’t happen and finally went for it. I ended up getting passed by a few towards the final 100 meters and ended up 7th on the stage, only 11 seconds off the leaders.
Stage 3 Time Trial:
This type of TT course is one of my favorites. If you know this course you can push yourself into the red on certain sections and recover on others. I set time checks at three points of the course and was ready to destroy myself. Only concern was my brand spanking new Felt DA that was just built and the limited time I have had to ride it. Roman Kulin (Mike’s Bikes) was nice enough to point out my handlebars were ready to fall off, so some last minute mechanic work was needed. I headed out of the start hard!! I had a 5 minute interval before I had rest on the downhill rollers. I hit my first time check about 15 seconds ahead of schedule…this is good…I feel really good…lets go faster. I worked the downhill rollers as hard as possible and hit the main descent full gas until I hit about 47MP. Then I tucked and recovered. No pedaling for a full minute during a time trial is odd. I made the left onto the main climb and hit it hard, but made sure I had enough to sprint over the top and into the flat cross wind section. Time check 30 seconds ahead. Then you guessed it more recovery as I railed the final descent and powered towards the finish. I crossed the finish line slobbering like a rabid dog but knew I was fast. Good enough for 2nd just 7 seconds behind Kirk and enough to move me into 2nd overall in the GC standings.
Stage 4 Circuit Race:
Unfortunately I had to race defensively on my favorite course in NorCal. Going into the race Kirk and I knew it would be tough as Cash Call and Jelly Belly would want to move up on GC. As suspected the race started with multiple attacks and would continue throughout the race. Kirk managed the uphill section and I handled the backside of the course. A solid break got about 20 seconds up the road, but I wasn’t too concerned because the field was filled with teams who wanted a stage win. As suspected we brought the group back and with 3 laps to go I followed a Jelly Belly attack on the main climb. At the top we had a solid gap as I looked back…wait crash!! I saw the KOM jersey go down, and I think that was the race leader Kirk on the ground too!! What to do, I attacked before the crash so I should go…do you want to win because your ally crashed. I decided to sit in the break until I saw the group all together again and attacked with 1 lap to go. I got caught at the top of the climb and filed into a safe slot for the final approach to the finish. I crossed the line safe and conserved my spot for 2nd overall.
2013 Sea Otter Classic Race Report
Stage 1 Criterium: