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Ken Gallardo and Scot McLean goes “Pro” at Turlock Lake RR PRO 1/2

Ken sprinting for 4th. Photo: Katie Truong
Ken sprinting for 4th. Photo: Katie Truong
A few days ago Scot mentioned he was interested in racing Turlock Lake RR in the P / 1 / 2 category since it was the only morning field he could attend as a freshly minted Cat 2. Since the race is only an hour and a half from my dad’s house, I was also interested. A quick review of the pre-reg list showed a few strong teams with big numbers so I knew we’d have our work cut out for us. Working in our favor though is the fact that as master’s racers the young guys probably had no clue who we were and what kind of hurt a couple old guys could hand down. Well, they know now…
Despite some last minute concerns about the weather, Scot and I arrived at the lake with plenty of time to reg, Castelli SanRemo suit up! and spin around a bit. I suggested that we ride reverse of the course and check out the finish since I’d never done this race before (Scot did it last year). Scot gave me the low-down – the course is a mix of good and poor pavement and combines a little of the Snelling (in reverse) and Merco RR courses along with a nice series of rollers. And, best of all, lots of full road closure! Our plan for the day was to cover any break that had a Mike’s Bikes, Vu Medi and Marc Pro as these teams could easily put a couple strong guys in the break and block very effectively on the narrow sections of the course.
Ken – super focused on keeping the race in check
Ken – super focused on keeping the race in check

Scot and I managed to line up on the front row. The P / 1 / 2′s took a leisurely approach to lining up, getting there about 2 minutes before the start with some guys rolling up just as the whistle blew. Right away, the attacks started and fortunately most guys forgot that the first stretch of road was full closure so being near the front was a big advantage. The attacks continued most of the first lap and I was covering everything that looked remotely dangerous. About 20 miles into the race 8 guys finally got clear and after a little encouragement from yours truly (hey guys, we have a solid gap, let’s quit goofing around and ride!) we were off to the races.

It wasn’t the best break from the standpoint of numbers because there were two Mike’s Bikes guys Roman Kilun (who from the get go I knew would be the guy to watch) and Marcus Smith, two guys from VuMedi (Alexander Freund and Taylor Cody) and one each from ThirstyBear (me!!!), Red Peloton (Michael Claudio), Marc Pro Strava (never got his name) and Fresh Air Bicycles (Jared Prince).

Once we got going, the group worked together really well. I was pretty sure that as long as we rode a solid pace, we’d go faster than the peloton (which had been very inconsistent during all the attacking) plus all the big teams were well represented so only the stragglers would be available to chase. I can tell you that after some of the early season races, this break was hard but manageable. In contrast, the 35+ break at Snelling was (and I’m gonna get technical here) way, WAY harder. I was totally on the rivet the whole time at Snelling and nearly got dropped. I felt great today (perhaps, nah, no way, but just maybe I’m getting a little more fitness) and figured I had a pretty good chance of doing well if we could stay away.
Well, by the time we were halfway through the 2nd lap (of 4) we’d already built over a minute lead on the peloton. Unfortunately, the Marc Pro Strava guy touched wheels with someone on one of the rolling climbs and went down pretty hard. We slowed down for a couple minutes but when we’d gone two more rollers and didn’t see him anywhere we went back to business. Bummer for him and now we’re down to 7 guys.
On the 3rd lap, I can see some guys are starting to tire a bit and a couple guys are sweating pretty good. In contrast, I’d managed to forget my base layer, arm warmers and long fingered gloves so I’d been quite cool the whole time. I didn’t eat enough though and my legs were starting to hint that eating and drinking more might be a good idea. On the plus side, our gap on the field had been very quickly going up and by the start of the 4th lap we had 4 minutes. This should’ve been raising alarm bells but I figured the group wouldn’t want to blow a 4 minute lead by spending an entire lap attacking and cat-and-mousing. FAIL!
Almost as soon as we’d gotten the bell the knives came out. Roman reminded us that there was a full road closure by going full left (trying to get whatever “gutter” he could with the 5 MPH crosswind) and going full gas up the road. I’m caught a bit on the back foot as I’d just finished a pull so I was going backwards on the right when everyone dove left and accelerated. I managed to get back on terms and now it was no more Mr Nice Guy. I knew I couldn’t solo away for 20 miles so I figured I needed to watch Roman and bide my time. There were lots of attacks and I was attentive as possible and even launched a few of my own when I thought the timing was right. What I really wanted to to whittle the group down to 3 or less and at one point there were 4 of us but it was a bit too disorganized and the other 3 chased us down.
Then I made my big mistake. I rolled to the front and as I started to slow a bit, Roman launched. I was in the wrong gear on the wrong side of the road and didn’t react quick enough. Alex Freund of VuMedi jumped across off my wheel but nobody else did. Now Roman’s teammate Marcus was right on my wheel and nobody else would come around. 10 miles to go…I’m going full throttle but the engine room is screaming about fuel shortages and this hurts and why are you pulling these guys. Claudio makes an attempt to go across but I jump quickly onto his wheel but he shuts down. Now we’re racing for 3rd…

Somewhere in all the excitement we dropped the other VuMedi guy so now we have a 3 man chase with Smith sitting on. Unfortunately, Claudio isn’t contributing but keeps attacking so as we pass 3 km to go and he attacks, I let him go and let Prince take up the chase. He’s starting to fade so I jump off of Smith’s wheel and go by Claudio as hard as I can. Unfortunately he gets onto Smith’s wheel so I sit up and Claudio attacks again. Now I’m on his wheel and that’s where I’m staying. We pass 1 km to go and I can see Roman sprinting away for the win just like I knew he would. Damn! Now I have to be patient. 500 m to go and everyone is looking at each other, Claudio on the front, then me, then Smith, then Prince. I’m waiting as long as I can but know I’ll have to go right around 200 m if I want to get the jump. The finish is atop a *small* hill after a slight right hand bend (so glad I recon’d this and didn’t try to assess it during the race!). As we start up the hill and pass 200 m to go, Claudio opens the door on the right and I give it everything.
There’s a spectator on the road and I scream at him to GET OUT OF THE WAY! (and I didn’t use any expletives either) and I’m out of the saddle and the legs are screaming too and I can sense Smith coming alongside so I kick again but I need to shift and it’s not gonna happen and I throw my bike but come up short by a couple inches in the sprint.

Wow, what a race and what a finish. I’m really pleased with making the break and getting 4th. 2 out of the 3 guys who finished in front of me are only a couple years older than my son so, hey, they better beat this old guy! And what can I say, Roman is a talented ex-pro and I knew he’d be the guy to beat today. I kicked myself a couple times for missing that opportunity but now I know what to do next time…
Scot came in with the fractured field (he said once the field realized we were gone, the attacks starting flying fast and furious) so we both got a great workout and lots of quality, dry miles. We caught up with Alan and Joe and they congratulated me on a great finish. Hopefully some of my luck rubbed off and they do well!
Just in case anyone’s wondering, my night-before-the-race meal was this: http://www.theppk.com/2010/12/rustic-winter-stew-with-polenta/ AND homemade gluten, dairy, soy free apple crisp. Yum!

Comments

Roman
Reply

Nice race report, you were super strong out there and made the race hard.

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