La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Fresno in February – road race reports

This weekend brought a road trip and two great races up in the Fresno area. Bob W, John C. and I took off friday night with the forecast promising miserable rainy conditions. Dan R. was there representing Team Chicken Ranch in the masters races.

Cantua Creek Road Race, 2/14

With the idyllic backdrop of the industrial cattle lots, we started off in the chilly (but completely clear) morning. The race was 2 x 26 mile laps, out-and-back. Bob and I took the front and soft-pedaled our way through the first 13 miles at a slow pace that could barely qualify as a warmup. On the return part of lap 1, John, Bob and I made a few attempts to pick up the pace but is was basically just burning our matches (turns out we had plenty to spare though). Up the final hill on lap one, we strung it out a bit, maybe spit a few riders off the back but regrouped by the bottom. Lap 2 felt slower than the first .. no one wanted to work and the chickens spent the majority of the time at the front, especially Bob who the pack had marked as their ideal wind screen for the entire race. It came down to the last climb and I attacked at the bottom with John and Bob close behind. We had dropped everyone except for a lone rider from Bakersfield, a man who came to be known as the legendary Fredy Prado. My pull was done and John surged ahead, Bob followed, but Fredy timed it better than all of us and beat our Bob by half a wheel. No win but the chickens went 2, 3, 4 and proved to be the strongest team in the 5s.

That night we drove up to Pine Flat, pre-drove the last 12 miles of the course and went out for a nice dinner with the Velo Girls team and Kim and Steve Weixel.

Nice Valentines Day shirts guys!

Nice Valentines Day shirts guys!

Pine Flat, 2/15

The forecast just a few days before was something like “100% chance of brutal winter storm” but, apart from the cold and gloomy sky, the weather was cooperative. The course was awesome and the scenery was gorgeous! The first 20 rolling miles were surprisingly eventful with a couple of solo breaks. We caught most of them easily but one guy stayed away for the majority of the race. I went off the front for a pit stop, announcing I was not making a break, just emptying my bladder. Our friend Fredy, didn’t catch that part and comes around from the back of the pack to mark my wheel. He looked thoroughly confused when I pulled off. It revealed his strategy – let anyone else break except team chicken ranch.

After the descent and into the flats, the chickens started a moderate tempo paceline to bring our solo rider back. The rest of the pack took a total of 0 seconds pulling. So we had to shake something up and Bob was the man to do it … a nice steady acceleration and he was away. And who else but Fredy jumped on his wheel. Everyone else sat back and watched it happen. The rest of the pack was completely unorganized and no one was willing to do any chasing. John and I just smiled and cruised along and for a while it looked like the break might stay away until the finish. The pace picked up as the climb neared and we we slowly dropped riders until it was John and I and two others chasing the lead group of 3. We finally spotted them on the second half of the climb and regrouped. The mountain goats crested the top about 45 second before Bob and I but we quickly rejoined on the descent. From there it was a good flat/rolling section leading up to the final climb. Bob and I just kept the pace high and tried to give John the best leadout at 1k that we could. From there (I’ll have to defer to John on the details) Fredy and John battled it out up the steep finish hill and Fredy ended up with his second win of the weekend. John got second, and Bob and I got 6th/7th.

So this Fredy was a hell of a rider. Despite his tenuous grasp on the English language, he was a really friendly guy and I can’t wait to race him again. But something didn’t seem right. The guy was really strong. He was tactically brilliant. The guy was able to piss off the side of his bike AND keep pedaling while descending with a pack. That’s a whole lot of skills for a cat 5. Then John found this last night … … look at #22 … our friend is/was a pro rider in Mexico? Or maybe its just a case of mistaken identity? The legend of Fredy Prado continues…

I’ll let Dan tell the tales of his solo victory in the masters race at Pine Flat. Congrats! All in all, a great weekend for the chicken ranch in norcal … 5 podium spots including one victory and our name is now simultaneously loved, feared and respected in the Fresno area cat 4/5 circuit! Most importantly we got to hang out with a bunch of cool folks and had a great time.

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February 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. That looks like one romantic dinner! – You guys had better not have been hitting on the Velo Girls!

    Nice job this weekend. Sounds like you guys had a blast.

    Comment by Sarah | February 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. pleasure meeting all of you this weekend!

    Comment by velogirl | February 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. Matt: You’re the offical race reporter from now on. I’d imagine that we’ll being seeing Fredy’s wheel at the races again.

    Velogirl: Congrats on the Pine Flat win!

    Comment by John Comunale | February 17, 2009 | Reply


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