On Saturday April 20 I dipped my toe into road racing. I’ve been doing quite a bit of cross training on my Tarmac and enjoying it. My racing license only allowed me to register in the Men Open Cat 5 or Men Masters 45+ 4/5 road race, so I registered in the 4/5 race. Two dozen riders lined up and we took off in a neutral start down a long descent. The first couple of laps were uneventful. The group kept a moderate pace on the rollers and there were no effective break away attempts. My heart rate was fairly low for what I knew I could hold in a two hour MTB race, so I went to the front on the climb back to the start and pushed the pace. We dropped a few riders, but the peloton mostly stuck together as a couple of us took turns at the front. This continued for a couple of laps. I thought a large group of R5Ciclismo riders from Orange Country might be able put something together, but nothing materialized.
At the turn into the last lap it felt like the race was suddenly on. A big-boned rider that had proven to be strong on the flats took off on the descent and quickly put a big gap on the peloton. We were already at 40+ mph and let him go, but we reeled him in within a few minutes of hitting the rollers at the bottom. Everyone was jockeying for position. I have been riding with a strong group of riders at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays that includes several UCC racers. The routes include Torrey Pines, Calle de Oro and Three Witches and I have become pretty confident in my ability to hang with just about anyone on long climbs, so I was stoked that this race ended with a long climb to the finish. I thought about attacking at the bottom of the hill to see if I could outlast the group for the three miles to the end and separate myself from the sprinters, but the pace had already picked up considerably. Riders jumped off the front a couple of times and I chased them down, hoping to work with someone to get a gap, but their efforts didn’t last long and they didn’t keep up when I took the lead, so the peloton would catch back up. I felt I was pushing at about 85-90% and knew I had plenty more to give should something happen. At the 1 kilometer to go mark I thought again about attacking but held off. As soon as I saw the 500M sign ahead, I attacked and hoped to surprise the group. The hill flattened out for a bit and I could feel riders coming up on either side of me. When the grade pitched up again I knew it was time to dig deep. We rounded the last corner and could see finish line ahead. I hoped the competitors were tiring out and I gave it all I had. I could hear them close behind, but was able to hang on for the win.
It was a great feeling to come out on top in a sprint finish. Greg Twitty come in 9th in the Masters 45+ Cat 1-3 in what looked like a blistering race with a 24 mph avg overall pace and stacked field and Greg Fenton podiumed at 3rd in the Masters 55+ Cat 1-4 race.