Dunnigan Hills 45+123 (one of two sections for the 45+).
I went to Dunnigan to bake my brain in the wind and smoke. We had 50 guys in a 45+ 123 field but none of my teammates figured out how to enter on time to race with me (there was a second field with 25 guys that Hans and Scot raced). I was in no mood for a leisurely ride around the central valley and pleasantly surprised to see our break form about two miles into the race. Only 88mi to go but we had 9 guys. The main teams were represented: Make A Wish (Hoadley/Martin); Hammertime (Ziesing); Chronos (Ott/Fairbanks); Sierra (Stockwell). Plus we had Jay Newton! And, moving to our field race morning was the instant race favorite, Scott Fonseca. I knew we’d stay away but never imagined we’d get an 8 minute lead in the first lap (at least that’s what the moto told us). We would be out for a long time so we all settled down and kept the pace reasonable once we established the break. It was a lot of fun with this group and we all worked pretty well together.
Near the end of lap #1, Kerry Stockwell crashed. I’m not sure what caused it. We all waited for him and he got back in as we crossed over I-5 leading to the finish area. Near the top of the hill after the finish line and just prior to getting a “tailwind,” I was on the front with no one rotating through. I decided to surge and see who had the legs. But also hoping to reduce the group. I stayed away for the 9mi section but was caught as we turned east toward 505. I made them work but made sure I kept it measured so that I could still race when they caught me. Apparently Jay put in the biggest efforts to bring me back (that’s what he does). But he brought everyone back….
After we went down along 505 (more tailwind), we turned into the wind again and that’s where some attacking reduced our group (losing Ziesing, Hoadley, and Fairbanks). We were down to six working well together, and moving clear of those guys. With 15 mi to go, we hit the headwind section. It was getting painful for all of us. We were getting a little delirious with all the heat stroke and dehydration trying not to run into each other…. It was along the headwind section that I was trying to figure out when to do some attacks because I didn’t want to sprint with Ott and Fonseca. Jay started cramping so I gave him a salt tablet, then Chris Ott attacked with about 4mi to go before the finish. I covered and then things changed in our group. It was going to turn into a great game of cat and mouse. We had an insurmountable lead so we could each play our cards. Scott, Chris, and I attacked a handful of times in our own way. None of us could crack the group except when Jay slipped off the back with his cramping.
No one wanted to lead into the final stretch but I found myself on the front over the freeway so I just rode easy along the centerline. Jay caught back on and took the lead out responsibilities (that’s what he does – he rides hard!). I jumped about 400m out with Chris on my wheel and Scott on his. I gapped them while the other three in the break fell off the pace. I went as hard as I could but it was way too early. My legs were very resistant to doing anything more than survive after about 15 seconds of “sprinting” so I muscled my way up the hill as best I could. I was surprised that no one was coming around but the finish line was still pretty far away. As it turned out, Scott passed Chris as he was trying to close on me, and then Scott got me in the last 50 meters pretty easily. I held on for second with Chris coming in next.
It was a hot day and the smoke from nearby fires made it a bit unpleasant for all. I believe I drank about 10 bottles (started with 4). And was so happy that the neutral feed didn’t run out of water this year. There was a lot of carnage out there. Everyone was cooked whether they had good days or rough times. Congrats to all TB’s who raced today.