Race Report – Tyler Janke
There are some great annual events that take place signalling the start of the new year. Ground hog day has Punxsutawney Phil (large rodent weather-man), New York with the Ball Drop in Times Square, Boise Idaho has their giant Potato Drop and Sacramento’s cycling community has the Cal Aggie Criterium. Sure, it’s no potato drop, but it’s the first big NorCal crit of the year where the locals finally get to line up for a sanctioned race after so many weeks of hemorrhaging testosterone on their local group ride. Last year, within the last two laps of the P12 race our entire team crashed, sending two of us to the hospital (finger and shoulder) and one bike to the Morgue (R.I.P. Brickler’s Leapord). So for 2015 we were bound to make an improvement.
The Cal Aggie course (renamed anually in March as the Land Park Crit) is a twisty yet wide-open crit course nestled on the outskirts of swanky Land Park near downtown Sacramento. The race itself encircles the 8th hole of the Land Park golf course (reachable par 5 if you’ve got game) and is the perfect venue to bring the family out to see if you measure up; not to mention the importance of validating to your family and friends that “yes, all those hours of riding the trainer in the garage and stifling calorie counting” this winter were worth it.
Kids Race | E3
I arrived to the race just before noon to sign my step-son Rylan up for the kids race and watch the Data Driven Athlete team open the 2015 season in the E3 category race. Rylan got things started nicely by winning in style with his sponsor approved Castelli Jersey (no posting up for the kids race however – safety first). Next, the E3 team took to the line with returning DDA members Josh Keel (newly upgraded), Patrick Callan, the Boss himself – Nate Dunn and new DDA member Chris Flower. They are still getting things dialed in as a team, but the guys appeared to be active and have a good race. No podiums from the E3 team, meaning Rylan still held the glory for the day.
Masters 35+ E123
Original DDA member Curt Mills and I entered the first of our two races for the day to compete in the Masters 35 plus, Category Pro, 1,2 3 race. That’s a long defining race name, but the simple explanation is – you have to be over 35 years old and a category racer from Pro to E3 level. This race had 3 eye-catching riders I was interested in paying attention to from the start – former Pro BMC team rider Michael Sayers, and the two hot shots from Herbalife p/b MarcPro-Strava (Justin Rossi and Chuck Hutcheson). This isn’t to slight anyone else in the field, as I saw some former National Champions, but these guys are aggressive, strong and fast. Curt and I mixed it up well by starting some breaks, bridging to a few breaks and just sitting in when needed. With 6 laps to go I bridged across to a Sayers/Herbalife group but cohesion wasn’t part of the game plan and it crumbled with counter attacks and no one taking a sustained pull. Too close to the bell lap.
Cutting to the finish, Team Folsom Bikes got a lead-out train going for their muscle-man John Novikoff and I jumped on board. The lead out fizzled a bit allowing myself, Sayers and Hutcheson to get in line with about 2 big corners to go. Folsom got the front again and at the last corner the long winding sprint started with Sayers, Hutcheson, myself going up the middle from the front. From nowhere to my right, John Novikoff blasted out taking the REALLY long way home and just narrowly getting 2nd place to Michael Sayers with Chuck Hutcheson (3rd) and Myself (4th). While 4th isn’t a podium and for this race not even in the money, it was enough to assure my wife I really have been training hard this winter. Here is some video from Rod Spradlin’s bike. Rylan…still with the only Podium for the day.
The Pro race was the last race of the day, the big event, and started with well over 70 participants. This particular event they allow the E3 category riders to race with the P12 field and so DDAR did our best to field a big team. I was doing my 2nd race of the day (with an hour in-between) and if this was eating they would call it a “Bang Bang.” (Having two consecutive meals at or near the same time). Speaking of food, I didn’t refuel after the first race which came back to haunt me with 10 laps left. The team was active, almost the entire E3 team and the two old men from the Master’s race were joined by the young Eric Brickler and not-quite-as-young Casey Fallon. The whole team rode aggressive and strong with wheels in the action all day. With a few laps to go, Eric Brickler went to the front to string out the race and keep the pace high. As a quasi-sprinter, I appreciated Eric’s efforts as it kept the other riders from bunching and surging and allowed me to move up easier for the sprint. Unbeknownst to Eric, I was bonking from my lack of fuel between the races. Either way, VuMedi’s Bryan Larson attacked on the last lap and held the gap all the way to the line for a great post-up victory. Here is a video by Bryan himself showing old-kit-wearing Herbalife PB/Strava waiving him through (at the 10:20 mark) rather than hitting the front themselves. Impressive win. Bear Dev’s Tommy Lucas (who never gave up James LaBerge’s wheel all day) was 2nd with Jeff Linder of Squadra SF taking 3rd. I bonked my way over the line in 21st giving Rylan the ultimate glory for the day.
After the race, I did a bang bang with a Chipotle burrito-bowl and several bean quesadillas at home. My condolences to my family. Next year, I’m doing a potato drop between races to keep fueled. 2015, here we come.