Cantua Creek Road Race

The Cantua Creek Road Race marked the beginning of the 2019 race calendar. This was a 70 mile, 3-lap out-and-back style course on mostly flat roads with some rolling climbs at the end of each lap. This race is generally the first part of a two-race weekend put on by Velo Promo, with the second race being Pine Flats. Unfortunately, due to weather and road conditions, Velo Promo decided to cancel Pine Flats earlier in the week. That was a bit of a bummer because that race is honestly much more interesting, both in terms of scenery and course profile, than Cantua Creek.

Racing in California’s central valley gives me a good opportunity to spend some time with by brother and his family. They only live a few hours north of Los Angeles, but it seems like such a struggle to get up there very often. I spent the evening before the race with them. Because of Sunday’s cancelled race, I didn’t return after Saturday’s race, so unfortunately I didn’t spend more than a few hours with them. We will have to make plans soon to visit again. There’s actually some good riding up near them, so I’ve heard… 🙂

Race start was at 8 am, and with the weather we’ve been having lately, it was quite cool and wet. The field size was fairly small, with 18 starters, I believe. Colin Patterson of Marc Pro was on the start list, and knowing that he won the P/1/2 race here last year, I knew he was someone to keep an eye on. I had two Simple Green teammates joining me — Jason Francia and Adam O’Camb — so we talked a bit of strategy before the race. I told them I was pretty sure nothing would happen the first lap, and that all the serious moves would happen on the climbs at the end of each lap. Unfortunately Adam forgot his cycling shoes; he borrowed mine, but they were two sizes too small and Adam made the right call to pull out of the race at the end of the first lap when we started to have some knee and foot pain. Even just one teammate can help take some pressure off during the race, so I was happy to be on the start line with Jason.

Too my surprise, a few attacks started going within the first few miles, and by 5 or 6 miles in, I found myself in the front half of a split in the field. Jason was with me in the front group of 9. This turned out to be a good scenario, I think, because once we saw we had the gap everyone started working well together in a paceline.

At the end of the first lap I was ready for a move to go up the climbs, but since the group was working well, everyone seemed content to ride along like this for another lap.

It wasn’t until the second half of the second lap that the group started to get unorganized and there were a few attacks. We were still a group of 9, however, by the time we reached the climb the second time around. Colin began to up the tempo and started to string out the group, but no one had fallen off. Finally, I decided to put in a hard couple of minutes to blow it up. At the turnaround at the top, we were down to 5. I yelled to the group to keep rotating, and they followed along, putting in a large gap between the chasers. Fortunately, this smaller group also worked well together until the final climbs on the last lap.

Last year I went way too soon and ended up getting beat pretty soundly in the final sprint against Eric Sasse. This time I told myself to be patient, and I did a good job on the lower slopes. We had a tailwind and I was second wheel going into one of the final kickers. I knew the guy on the front would try to put me in the wind soon, so I decided to kick from there. Looking at Tyler Pearce’s footage (see the Instagram post), I actually had a larger gap than I thought I did. Like last year, however, it was just too soon and Colin and Tyler eventually tracked me down.

Regardless, I’m happy with another P/1/2 podium finish to kick off the new year of racing. Next I will be at the UCLA Road Race, which is a course that suits me well, but the field will be very strong. Looking forward to it!