Men's Category 4 Chico Stage Race
Carson Jeffres took a 2nd Place in the General Classification of the Chico Stage Race (combining a Road Race, a Criterium, and a Time Trial) held on April 16-17, 2011.
It was Mark Fiori, Jeff Schaller, Jeff Weaver, and me. We had one lap of about 45 miles with 4 miles of gravel starting at about mile 38. Thinking that this would be a good course for me, I decided that I would try to be patient and wait until just before the gravel to try to make my move. This plan is made much easier by being able to draft off of Weaver for the first 20 miles, there are few wheels around that make your life easier. The first 7 miles was at a nice easy club ride pace, then we took the right off of the highway and things got fast. We were strung out for about 6 miles until we got to the feed zone in the rollers. This section hurt and I am surprised that we did not shell more people out of the group. The Chico Corsa guys were just hammering on the front making sure that nobody even attempted a serious break. I was stuck in the back of the pack through much of the rollers not being able to move up. Fiori and Schaller were patrolling the front the whole time so I figured that at least we have it covered if something happened. With about 10 miles to go, I realized that I needed to move up and managed to make my way up along the shoulder and finally got near the front. This is where the wisdom of Steggall comes into play. At the team meeting on Monday, I asked John about the course and he gave a very good description with one very important piece of information “If you can get a break before the gravel, you have a good shot at winning.” As we all know, John followed his own advice to victory. So, knowing that we were getting close to the gravel, I realized that there was a small, but well represented group off the front so I decided to make a run at it, and so did the rest of the pack. We were all together once again. Then a Bicycles Plus guy soloed off the front and the gravel was getting closer so I made my break and bridged up to him with about 200m to go before the gravel. We had a decent gap and decided to hammer through the gravel knowing that a full pack would have a hard time chasing us down. We managed to increase our gap to about 25 seconds by the end of the gravel, and as we came off the gravel, the other guy flats out. Now I am by myself with a 1 mile climb and a 2 mile decent to the finish. I just put by head down and went for it. At the top of the climb the referee said I still had :25, at 2k the same and at 1k he said I still had :25, and I was pretty sure that I had it at that point. I just needed to finish strong. I ended up with :23 on the second place, but the guy who flatted got the same time as me minus :10 because his mechanical happened after the gravel, which was clearly explained to us at the start. Schaller finished strong with a 7th place and Fiori 19th with the pack.
The next morning was the crit in downtown Chico. Knowing that this was not my event, I just wanted to make sure that nobody got away and help Fiori and the Jeff’s if I could. It was a pretty fast pace from the start with Chico Corsa sending guys from the start. Being cat-4s we can’t let that happen and we all feel the need to chase things down, which makes for a fast race. Shaller managed one of the early primes and Firoi and the Jeff’s patrolled the front much of the race. Coming down to the finish Schaller and Firoi were in the mix and ended up with 4th and 5th respectively. I was happy to finish with the pack and hold on to my :10 lead.
Next came the TT, a few miles just south of town.The course headed south on the way out, which just happened to be the direction the wind was also coming from. They sent us off in reverse order of GC standing at one minute intervals. My goal was just to keep the guy in front of my within 1:10 and I would have not only my first win in general, but an overall GC in the same weekend… how quickly things change. Going out into the wind was punishing and wrecked me. I managed to get a pretty good time for me, almost as fast as my fastest Putah Creek TT and ended up 4th in the TT, but was still :55 back from the guy in front of me who handily won the TT and GC. Some things you just can’t compete with. I ended up 2nd in the GC, which I am very happy with.
Overall, we had a great DBC showing in the E4’s with 5 top tens in the three stages. The race was fun and pretty well organized. If you want to get a good road race with some mountain bike skills on the gravel, this might be the race for you next year.