Almost got on the podium. But got invited on the box since I solo’d away on the field sprint. Late last lap tactical error cost me a podium or a chance for the win. Short story -Solo’d away from the field in a half mile uphill sprint finish for 4th.
For the most part rode up front enough to keep an eye on things and tried to hide and conserve energy. A breakaway formed on lap 2 with 6 people. I didn’t think it would stick because it was too early. However, I started getting nervous on the 3rd lap. Luckily others did too and on the third of four laps I followed 2 guys and brought back the 6 man break that got away. Had to go to either be a rabbit and shake it up for the teams that were shutting it down or possibly stay away in that break. It came back all together almost right after we connected. Got lucky and didn’t really burn too many matches. Made the other two guys do most of the work. Recovered just fine. So I feel like that was a good move. Other than that just hid and stayed close to the front.
There were plenty of attacks throughout the race and I followed others to mark them. Then with one lap to go a guy pulled away solo. I know him and he’s very strong but still thought no way he’s got the fitness or going to be allowed to solo away on the last lap. Too many other teams and horse power. Wrong! He made it and won. Then another guy snuck away with about a half lap to go that I didn’t even see go. And I was riding near the front! There were a lot of stragglers on the course from other races and I got confused. Even still everyone was in sight and they were all solo. Still thought for sure we would catch the first guy. Then with about a 1/4 lap to go another guy drifted away solo and I thought again no way. It’s too late and we are going to be slamming it here really soon. Just let him dangle up front and burn out. And we did hit it hard and fast. But sure enough he ended up staying away and catching the 2nd place guy for 2nd overall.
After that guy went I worked hard to stay way up front and even put myself in not the most protected spot on last half of the last lap to keep the lane clogged so no one else could come around anymore. I stayed on the very outside near the yellow line. As I suspected it got ramped up and super-fast. I’m still thinking we will reel in the guy’s ahead as they were all solo and not grouped up. I stayed top 5 the whole time. Bounced behind other wheels when needed and followed surges and was very aggressive. When we came around the corner for the last 1 mile straightaway before final turn for finish hill it was on! Single file and really hard which put me in a perfect spot.
Came around the final corner in 3rd position and then a few seconds later as the hill started (which is a 1.5 minute power climb at about 6% grade) I attacked solo and didn’t look back until I got to the top. At the top there is about a 50 meter flat section so I sat down in saddle and started grabbing gears. Looked back and no one near me! Huge gap! Still 200 meters to go with a little 50 meter 4% bump ahead. I relaxed a little for short recovery before the last little 50 meter bump. Then sprint hit that as hard as I could and then looked back and still had same huge gap and no one remotely close and easy soft pedaled last 50 meters to the line. I played the finish PERFECTLY! Just too bad it was for 4th.
I even saw the two guys ahead of me and got close to them by the finish. Just knew there was no way to catch them. Wasn’t enough road left. Sad part was I thought that was first and second that I saw ahead of and that I got 3rd. I didn’t know it was for 4th until about 10 minutes later on my cool down ride. I overheard someone behind me say there were three guys off the front. Shit! LOL! Was a clean fun race. I’m proud of the result, but bitter sweet about the guys that got away.
Jeff Jacobson, Jimbo Wimberly, and I (Ken Winston) of the UC Cyclery Racing team attended “Southern California's Premier Endurance Mountain Bike Race” aka the 6 and 12 hours of Temecula held at Vail Lake. It was a big turnout with many solo riders and 2, 3, 4, and 5 man teams competing. There were high school age racers, 60+ racers, and everything in between. JJ entered the 50-59 men category and I decided to race down one age group so we could compete together. Jimbo entered the 60+ men category.
Men’s 50-59 race report:
The course was 9.1 miles in length with 900 feet of elevation gain. There was plenty of undulating singletrack, a few steep pitches, one steep descent with a few boulders to get over, and a couple of fire road climbs. The course was not very technical but there were several blind turns so it helps to know the trails. JJ and I have raced this event before and managed to work together well while doing so. We had a plan to again work together and then see who felt the best toward the end.
It was a mass start, making it impossible to keep track of your competition. Jimbo led JJ and I for the first 3 miles or so. It was an uncomfortably fast pace that had us all thinking we had not acted wisely, considering we had to last about 6 hours. After Jimbo finally backed down his pace, I made the decision to keep pushing until we had reached the long singletrack descent consisting of “Tarantula” and “Tunnel of Love (TOL)”. JJ and I found ourselves riding with Cesar Mora (40-49 men category), one of our training partners and member of Stonehaus Racing. JJ wondered aloud if we were keeping a wise pace “Cesar, I don’t know what Ken is doing!” I heard him say. This I found a bit humorous since it is JJ who causes Cesar and I to ask what is he doing pushing a hard pace on our training rides! Regardless, I eventually took the hint and slowed to a more sustainable pace after finishing lap one.
For laps 2-5 we kept riding together, trading pulls at what seemed to me a 50:50 ratio. We had no way to know what position we were in. Nor did we know that we were racing the biggest category of the day with 38 entrants. I kept an eye out for anyone looking our age but had not seen any (apparently they were all behind us). Very few racers passed us and those that did appeared to be younger and on multi-person teams. Around about lap 4, JJ announced that he was feeling some cramps and did not think he could hold the current pace much longer. Yet he still took his turn with strong pulls that put me in the pain cave. I too had felt a few twinges, but I kept it to myself. On lap 6 of what would be 7 total laps, I had ridden through a few cramps, as had JJ. We were on the big “ambulance” climb to the top of the TOL when we saw a guy ride past us with authority, as if he was on a multi-person team, but his bike was sporting a “solo” tag. JJ thought he looked to be in our age category and proceeded to tell me that I should chase him down – and that he was cooked. After another 30 seconds of halting discussion we noticed that the gap from him to us had stabilized at about 10 seconds. This gave me the motivation I needed to try and race this guy who we later found out was Brad from Alberta, Canada, and was indeed in our class. On the remainder of the climb I closed about 5 seconds of the gap but Brad entered the long descent in front of me. I quickly got on his wheel and near the top of the TOL he let me pass him (this is a section with many blind turns, but I know it blindfolded). I sensed that this was where I should press my advantage so I put about a 15 second gap on him by the time we finished lap 6. I had one full water bottle on my bike so I chose not to stop at my pit. Brad stopped for about 30 seconds at his pit, as did JJ (thank you Strava flyby for this data). This gave me the breathing room I needed to nurse my cramps and stay out front to the end of lap 7. With only 40 minutes left in the 6 hours, there was not enough time to complete an 8th lap, so my race was complete. I waited at the finish line for Brad and JJ. Brad crossed about 30 seconds behind me and JJ 4 minutes behind. The efforts of your team resulted in 1st and 3rd place!
Men’s 60+ Race Report from Jimbo:
I had a great time. It was the most fun course I've ever been on. Yes it would have been nice to pre-ride, warm-up, and maybe not go so hard at the start! It was my first mountain bike race in 2 years. My goals were to have fun, ride safe, and finish. I forgot how much fun you can have at a MTB race 😊.
Editor’s note: Jimbo won! The guy shown in 1st was mistakenly placed in the 60+ class results, but is only 56 years old.