Auburn Men's Cat 4 race
Jeff Schaller takes 3rd in the Auburn Criterium Cat 4 race on May 1, 2011
The course was unusual. A steep 60 foot hill directly followed the start finish line. After the hill there was a half block of rough flat pavement followed by two back to back single-lane 90 degree right turns onto the back straight. The back was slightly uphill and into the wind for about 3 blocks. This was the longest straight section of the course. At the end of the back straight there were two more right hand turns onto a steep downhill section. The downhill was about a block long and ended with a very fast left turn. Finally, there were two more quick 90 degree rights onto the ~100 meter front straight.
After watching some earlier races and talking to a couple fellow DBC racers that had already ridden it was clear that there wasn’t any opportunity to move up once the downhill started. It sounded like the back straight on the last lap was going to decide the race. I met Dave Grundman while watching some earlier races and was happy to learn there would be a couple teammates racing in the fours.
The race itself was pretty amusing. People tried to hit the hill hard but stalled out just before the top and the pack bunched up there on every lap. After the first two tight turns the pack would slowly string out until it was just one or two wide, all the way up the back straight, down the hill, and around to the start finish line. I pretty much sat in the back the whole time. It was a little disconcerting to see the race strung way out in front of me on the second half of the laps but I was always able to push back into the group on the uphill. I felt like I could survive with this strategy and still have some energy left for the last lap.
The start of the last lap was pretty much the same as the rest. People hit the hill hard but still faded at the top. I was feeling alright and kept hammering to the top of the hill. I found myself in about 6th position, two spots behind Dave. As soon as we hit the back straight a couple of guys in the front started to pull away from us. I knew this was it so I put my head down, pulled out into the wind and started spinning. I looked over when I went by Dave and made sure he got on my wheel and we caught the front riders at the end of the back straight. I slid into third.