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Lone ‘CJ’ Wolf chases the sheep and finishes 3rd at Burlingame Crit

Event: Burlingame Crit

Date: June 22, 2013

Category: Cat 4 35+

I was excited about this race as it was a smaller field of only about 35 and it only had Cat 4 35+ riders. But I was not sure how my fitness would be after spending a week back east on a family “vacation” (I would not call 20 people under one roof with 10 kids under the age of 11 plus a barking dog and a duck a relaxing week).  Despite being forecasted by USA Cycling’s race predictor to come in 28th, I was still confident that I could get a podium but the goal was to go for the win. This year’s coarse was different than the previous 10 years as they were doing construction on the main street in Burlingame and it introduced a nasty 180 hairpin turn right in the middle of the course. Within the first 3 laps- the hairpin nabbed its first victim as a guy just to my right scrapped his inside pedal on the pavement and went down. This would be a common theme throughout the race as many people, including myself, scrapped their pedal through the turns. The hosting team, Peninsula Velo, and Cushman Wakefield both had 7+ riders but they never took charge of the race. At one point in the race, Cushman sent a rider out on a break and then 4 other Cushman riders blocked the front of the race which is apparently a team tactic as I recall Eric Lagier saying they pulled this move at the Berkeley Hills Race. IMO- that is a pretty weak play but it failed to work and the field brought the break within a lap.

CJ keeping an eye on the field – getting ready to attack
CJ keeping an eye on the field – getting ready to attack

My overall strategy was to stay near the front until the final 3 laps when I wanted to move up to the top 5 spots and then attack along the one long straight away about ¼ mile from the finish. I believed that if I could be in 1st or 2nd position through the 2nd to last turn- that I could hold off for the win. As the last lap approached- I expected either Cushman or Peninsula to pick up the pace but they didn’t and the race started to slow. At that time, I was moving up so I continued my momentum and went to the front as I didn’t want to slow down and get swarmed from the back. My intent wasn’t to lead the peloton around the final lap but that is what happened as nobody pulled through despite me flicking my elbow.  About half way through the final lap, Irving was spectating the race and he was yelling for me to get off the front but to no avail. When we hit the long straight away- I knew it was now or never so I attacked.

As we approached the 2nd to last turn- I still had the lead but I took it too wide and Aaron Schmitz  came through on the inside (after the race I chatted with him and he said he was an ex-pro motorcycle racers so he naturally took a cleaner line than me). I hit the gas again now in chase of Aaron as we approached the final curve with only 100-150 meters left. I dug deep but couldn’t close the gap and in fact- I got passed by another rider right at the line for 3rd. Although I didn’t win, I am still satisfied that I executed my race plan, rode aggressively and went for the win. Plus you can’t beat the fact that I won a nice Bianchi t-shirt and a box of cliff shots- gotta love master’s racing!

The Wolf in its right element!!
The Wolf in its right element!!
The Wolf in its right element!!

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