Monday, February 16, 2009

Cantua & Pine Flats-Cat 5


Nothing like a weekend of racing! Matt Perry, Big Bob, and I started the weekend trip off on the right foot by hitting up the Chicken Ranch on the way out of town for some burritos for the road. Where else would we go? Next stop, the Motel 6 in beautiful East Coalinga, where the sheets made me more nervous than a 50 mph descent.

Day 1 - Cantua

Matt and Big Bob being the mountain bikers that they are were determined to make sure that they made the race hard. I'm pretty sure they just wanted to hurt people, which they did and will continue to do on every ride or race they ever take part in. Let's all just be glad we wear the same jersey as them. Each of them took turns attacking the field, which resulted in too many quick chases to mention. At the beginning of the second lap Matt went to the front and drilled the short descent and Bob looked at me and said, "Let's make it really hard." We formed a paceline at the front and after a few pulls I looked back and there was no one on our wheels, so we rejoined the pack, but we made it hurt enough to drop some people. After the last turnaround, Matt and Bob had already put the fear of god into the field, but they were still grumbling about the race not being hard enough. So, they did what they came to do and attacked a few more times. The last few miles everyone was looking at us saying, "Watch those guys." Matt took the lead and stared drilling it with me on his wheel into the 1k finishing climb. I saw the k to go sign and jumped, a mystery rider hopped right on my wheel. We got a nice gap and then he attacked me and I was saying to myself, "Damn this guy is fast." We were riding side-by-side and with 200 to go he hopped on my wheel as I was trying to jam my shifter into the big gear. With 150 to go the guy jumps hard and flew around me as I'm stil playing games with my shifter, 100 to go, Bob and Matt fly by! We cross the line with the Chickens in 2-3-4. Good stuff!

This mystery attacker was none other than our new friend Fredy Prado who we would get to know well over the weekend, but not too well because he only speaks a few words of English.

Dan road like the powerhouse he is and scored a podium (3rd) in the 45+ 4/5.

We had a little lunch at the local Red Robin and headed to the next great tourist destination California has to offer, the outskirts of Fresno!

Day 2- Pine Flat (the one with the hill)

We lined up at a chilly start and our new friend Fredy pointed at me and said, "Climb good, you try win, how many years you?" "Yes, I try win, I'm 27 years" I responded.

Needless to say we were on Fredy's radar screen. Maybe 15 miles in, Matt rolled off the front to take a tinkle and Fredy jumped around the group, sprinting like a mad man in the drops to get Matt's wheel. We were screaming, "Hey Freddy, he's gonna take a piss!" When Matt pulled off the road, Fredy was maybe 3 inches from his wheel and almost crashed into him. The scene was priceless as he realized what was going on and rolled back to the pack. Shortly after, a rider from Salinas attacked hard off the front before the descent and once we got on the roller section it was time to do some chasing. We tried to organize everyone and to reel in the rider, but it was just the three of us trading pulls. Everyone in the field was scared of the wind and had no interest in helping us bring the rider back. After Chicken Ranch train pulled, Bob was bored and wanted to make it interesting, so he attacked, HARD! Once again, Freddy shot out of the pack and bridged to a Chicken wheel, which was a few 100 meters down the road. Communication was a bit tough between them, so Bob yelled, "Fredy, VAMOS," and pointed up the road. They were off, awesome, Big Bob finally had his break.

Matt and I sat on high fiving each other and road 4th & 5th wheel as three guys chased, while everyone else just looked. On the rollers before the climb, one of the guys decided to really start racing and dropped the hammer, shelling all but a few of us out the back. When the climb started I just road tempo with a strong climber from team Vapor with a few others in tow. Maybe a mile and a half from the top we caught the break, which had become three and I shifted my mindset to racing! We crested the climb in a group of 5 and started the 5-6 mile rolling descent to the final climb. I was sitting second wheel and all of a sudden I hear Matt scream, "Are you read for the Chicken Ranch 1, 2, 3!" He and Bob had bridged and went right to the front. I came around the guy in front of me and said, "That's my ride!" That section was hands down one of the coolest experiences I've ever had on a bike, getting to follow my two buddies, flying down a cool descent with the adrenaline pumping. When the road flattened or popped up a bit I was yelling like a maniac, GO, GO, GO, RIDE, F*CKING HIT BOB. Bob would look back with his face redder than a tomato nodding his head.

Finally, the shallow rise before the steep final climb. Matt takes off as hard as he can, it's not going to stick and our small climber group is going full gas at the climb. Fredy attacks hard on the 1st section of the steep climb, the Salinas rider couldn't keep the pace as a whipped around him. It was just me and Fredy throwing down all we had, riding side-by-side, slugging it out. The final steep section had a sharp switch back and I thought now or never and attacked the hell out of it and got a small gap. I crested the final climb on to the shallow rise to the finish and made it about halfway to the line before sitting down and backing off a bit (it hurt). Fredy smelled my weakness and threw the final attack and went to the line. I rolled to the line in 2nd behind Fredy pounding on my bars disappointed I couldn't finish what I came to do.

Bob and Matt rolled in for 6 & 7, so there were some good results for the Chicken Ranch boys and more importantly a whole lot of fun. Getting back to the parking lot we hooked back up with Dan who soloed to a win! Nice!

Driving back we were all overcome with the riding our new friend Fredy through down. Matt told us how at the beginning of the race Fredy was taking a piss, while he was still riding his bike, mad skills that guys has. Bob and I were completely dismayed and couldn't imagine how a cat 5 racer could race so well, let alone piss and pedal at the same time. A quick google search of Fredy Prado popped up a bunch of race results for pro Mexican stage races from a few years back. Huh! What was he doing in the 5's?

John A. Comunale

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