Pine Flat Road Race, Peidra Ca.
7:30 roll out, high 40’s and clear at start.
Pine Flat is one of my favorite local races, and also probably the most scenic on the NCNCA calendar. I was very excited for this race as it was my season opener on a new team, and I hadn’t been to Pine Flat in a couple of seasons.
The field was very small, but a strong and fun group of guys. I suppose with Copper Town, Valley of the Sun, and it being Valentines day. It was hard to expect a large turnout.
As the race started, everyone was chatty and happy. We all rode at a steady very civilized pace, as with such a small field there was zero tactical reason to go super hard. For the most part, everyone did a great job of taking their turn at the front ant the rotation was smooth.
The weather was outstanding, and will all the rain in January, the hills were bright green with explosions of wildflowers. Again the pace stayed civil as we made our way past the start, and through the orange groves.
At the right turn on to N Riverbend, I could tell that everyone was anxious to get to the climb as it was clear that the two climbs would be the deciding factor in the selection. The pace increased somewhat, and as we began to wind our way up and through the rolling terrain of Watts Valley Rd. (great name for a road on a race course huh..?) a few chippy attacks and accelerations went. I followed the few moves, then Tym Lang(Low Factory Racing) and I set pace in the final Kms before the right turn on the main climb.
Thanks to Strava,I had a clear idea of how long the climb would be, and thus had a clear idea of what kind of power I could hold. I hit the climb first wheel. Vinny Owens (Clif Bar) showed his strength with a few accelerations around me on the lower slopes of the climb. I did my best to not have knee jerk reactions to these moves and kept my pace hard but steady.
As we settled in after 3-4 minutes of climbing, I hit the front and rode at my tempo. I should probably work on this, but as a larger climber, I much prefer setting a hard tempo at the front as opposed to sitting in a responding to attacks and changes in tempo
At the front I held ~400w knowing that it’d be hard for anyone to want to come around. I kept looking behind to see how may riders were left and was surprised to see about guys on my wheel including Tym, Drew Levitt (Tieni Duro) and Vinny.
Although the pace was high, I felt I had more to give. My HR was still only in the low 180s and I can usually push that to closer to 190 before cracking.
Halfway on the climb, there’s a change in gradient that remains very steep for the remainder of the climb. I saw this ahead of me a decided I’d try and make my move there. I stood up and smashed a big gear in my drops until I was alone. I went over the top with a 25-30sec gap.
From there I thought I’d take it the rest of the way solo. I super-tucked and descended as fast as I could and motored on the flat section. I was out of sight for a few kms but when I saw a small chase group that included, Tym, Drew, and David Priest (Fig Mtn Brewery) gaining on me I decided to sit up and allow the catch, and try to recover for the final climb.
Tym set a good tempo for the kms leading into to final climb and Vinny bridged back on.
The final at Pine Flat is around 1km climb, with a 12% section near the top. I was a bit tired, and decided to not attack too early or try and go alone up the climb. I set a hard pace that I knew I’d still be able to respond to moves from. Drew and David traded off accelerations. I stayed with them and with 200m to go, I slid back a half bike length or so, got in my drops, shifted into my big ring and sprinted hard crossing the line with a few lengths to spare.
I was really happy to try a few things at this race, it was a good inventory for early season form, and am really happy with the legs right now. I want to thank Velo-Promo for putting on this race, and so many other great and distinctive local races. They really deserve our support, so lets fill up these fields!
Also, special thanks to my sponsors Herbalife24, Marc-Pro. Natures Bakery, Giant, Ritchey, Strava and many more. Literally every one of our sponsors provides something that I use on am everyday basis to ride, recover, and be at my best.
I am very excited to see what the rest of the 2016 season has in store