For whatever reason The Velo Promo Wards Ferry Road Race has never been on my list of road races for my early season race calendar. Maybe I skipped it thinking I should save my bullets for Copperopolis the following weekend? Maybe it was just a little gem of a road race I just didn’t know about, like a good little secret kept to only the climbers in the area? That all changed when some of the guys on the Folsom Bike race team clued me in as to how amazing the course actually is in the little town of Sonora, Ca. Thanks guys for encouraging me. You were right, It’s a great race!
So I’m thinking in my mind, great training for Copperoplolis, go check it out, just pedal hard and see what happens. So we made the early 5am drive past Copperopolis through the middle of nowhere and in to Sonora with early morning weather greeting us with a serious chill. I’m talking standing at the registration line almost made me turn back for home! I was freezing, wondering if I’ve made a serious mistake.
Race prep complete minus warm up, so I’ve made the decision that once we are on the course I thought it would be good to push the pace really hard up a few opening climbs and get warmed up. As we made our way up the first few kickers I was testing out the legs, trying a few accelerations, starting to defrost and made my way through the 1K climb to what would eventually be the finish line on lap 4, thinking in my mind, “wow I am really liking this course”, took a quick glance back to discover the pack had been shattered. It wasn’t more than 15 riders to begin with, but I could only spot two riders a ways back still making their way through the feed zone. Oops. Feed zone lap one and I’ve got a gap that looks promising, but it’s so early in the race, too early? Instead of panic I decide it’s that magic moment to decide to go full speed ahead and risk getting caught with tired legs or pull it back and enlist help that could eventually end up getting the best of me at the line. Decision made, Go time!
An amazing twelve mile loop of a mixed country terrain of punchy kickers to more gradual
stair steppy climbs mixed with fun sweeping descents that were neither technical or on bad roads, my kind of course,it is after all a good day! By lap two there are riders from mens fields everywhere along the course now that are chasing or being left behind the various fields. I plow ahead and stay focused on my steady hard effort. Final lap and I decide it’s head down all out to the finish. It’s amazing how focused you can get when you are alone in the race. You don’t have surges or inconsistent efforts from other riders in the pack attacking or controlling the pace. Without that I can focus on my energy level, fueling, hydrating and having little mental talks with myself about the need to be consistent and hold a steady hard pace. Right through lap four and up the finishing climb, which for only 200 meters somehow felt really long. Looking back I did love that course, and it is a secret I will share with other riders of all categories so the fields will be larger and more exciting next year. On to Copperopolis.
Congrats to Amy Chandos and Claire Morgan, who both competed in this past weekend’s Land Park Criterium and placed 5th and 6th, respectively! Great work ladies!
A few photos of our women’s team in action racing at this past weekend’s Merco Cycling Classic!