Ken Gallardo, Greg McQuaid & I headed down to the Sea Otter Classic to test ourselves against the best masters racers in the state and in many cases, the US. There were 3 current national champions in our circuit and road races, Rudolph Napolitano (35-39 RR), Matt Carinio (40-44 RR), and Mike Easter (35-39 Criterium). There were also at least a dozen former national champions in addition to Nor Cal strongmen Dan Martin & Andres Gil and many others. With 7 guys in the race, we knew that Monster Media/MRI would be the team to watch though.
Things started off with the 75 minute circuit race on the Laguna Seca raceway & Dan Martin (Safeway) didn’t wait 2 seconds before he launched an attack up the first climb, which sent Monster Media & Time to the front to string out the field. The first few laps were full of attacks & counters, but by about 4 laps in there was a dangerous move of about 7 riders that Ken was in with Carinio (Arts), 2 Time guys and 3 MRI. I decided to bridge up to this group on the climb & Ken fell back to the main field. The 7 of us didn’t really work together, but were just attacking & counter attacking until we got down to 5 riders, me, Carinio, Napolitano & Easter (Time) and Philip Tinstman (Monster Media). With 2 to go, I attacked & got away solo, but got caught by Napolitano with 1 to go. I couldn’t shake him on the final climb & he came around me for the sprint in the final 200M for the win. I crossed in second and Mike Easter nipped Tinstman for 3rd. Ken held on to finish 11th, but Greg wasn’t having his best day & dnf’d.
On to Saturday’s 62 mile, make that 54 mile road race, shortened a lap due to a late start. After a good 10-15 minute delay we were off down the hill for the neutral first 4 miles. The first time up the climb, everyone was content to sit in and ride at the tempo set by Monster Media to get warmed up. But sure enough, as soon as the road flattened out Dan Martin started the attacking that would continue on and on with Ken and a Monster Media guy getting in just about every move until about halfway through the race we were down to just about 15 guys in the lead group with Greg, Ken & me still in there.
Surprisingly though, all the Monster Media guys were gone. Greg went to the front to ride tempo to keep anyone who had been dropped from getting back on. On the next climb and over the next couple laps, Ken went to the front to ride tempo and told me to just sit behind him & be patient. It was really great having Ken and Greg there in the selection. I think it was with 2 laps to go that Carinio launched an attack and I found myself with just him, Andres Gil and Chris Walker (Time). It looked like this would be the final 4, but Walker’s teammate Napolitano had been delayed with a mechanical and was able to bridge up to us. Walker set tempo for a while, but then Napolitano attacked & Carinio & I would chase & counter with Walker & Gil just content to chase back on. Napolitano was though able to get away on the rollers about 2 miles before the final climb began. On the early part of the final climb, Carinio, Gil & I tried to work together to bring back Napolitano, but it quickly became apparent that we were racing for 2nd. When we hit the steeper parts of the climb I just went to the front and was able to ride away for 2nd with Gil not too far back in 3rd and Carinio 4th & Walker 5th.
Greg was looking very strong leading in the chase bunch sprint for 6th with Ken right there in 8th. Great race working with Ken and Greg who are both very fit right now and I think will be posting some great results in the weeks ahead.