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Wards Ferry RR

Now this is a race!

Last Saturday (3/23/13) a few of us made our way to the Wards Ferry Road Race, which took place just outside the small town of Sonora CA, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This was a 12 mile course with a profile looking more like a row of dragon’s teeth than your usual road race. For 3hrs we hurled ourselves over this beautiful terrain filled with a never ending array of narrow roads, fast descents, and punchy climbs. I like to think of this as the Liege Bastogne Liege of the NCNCA calendar (not that it really compares to that monument of a race, but its fun to make the analogy).

(photo: acaurora.smugmug.com)

My plan was simple, ride towards the front, make the splits, and let the terrain thin out the field. I knew the course was tough and there were not many places to rest. So after a few laps I expected fatigue to hit some riders and things could break up, leaving the strong men to battle it out on the up hill finish. It seemed like a good plan, however it never really broke up as much as I expected. We were keeping a good pace, but no one was ready to commit and blow the field apart. When I look back at this point it’s easy for me to say that I should have done something, that I should have made the commitment, but at the time I was just telling myself to stick to the plan, don’t get too excited, just stick to the plan. I didn’t want to overestimate my abilities and underestimate the terrain. This course is not to be taken lightly. When someone would break of the front you could see them pay for it immediately. Their gap would quickly decrease and soon enough they would be back in the field. So as we came to our last lap we had a much larger group than I expected. Sadly my team mates Naveen and Jaffa had a rough race, so I was solo at this point. Will Rose lead the technical decent and strung out the field, leading us immediately into another climb. I punched it and came around only to find everyone sitting on my wheel and not wanted to help thin things out. It was frustrating and so I just sat back, saved my energy and waited. As we came into the finishing 3km stair step climbs I just stayed up in the top five and responded to all the surges and little attacks. At 800m we hit the steepest stair step climb and the elastic finally snapped for most of the riders. Ten riders made it over the top and came into the finishing 200m climb. This is where i should have moved up a few more places and just punched it before everyone else, but failed to make the right move. The jump came from the right and I was forced to go wide on the left as another rider was blowing up, leaving me too much space to make up. So I just kept it going and just barely held off another rider for 6th place. 

Obviously I wanted a better result, but 6th isn’t too bad and I had a great time out there. This is always been one of my top five races of the year. Kudos to Kevin for representing the P/½ field and finishing in style (he made a top ten finish and added another Wards Ferry RR t-shirt to his collection for every time he has raced this course). This was just a great time with the guys in the wonderful foothills landscape. We made it back to the motel, cleaned up, and had a good meal with a awesome waitress that scared Naveen. After that we had the rest of the day to just hang out and relax for the next day of racing. So i took it upon myself to convince everyone that we should drive down to the Wards Ferry crossing of the tuolumne river and check out some crazy roads along the way. Its was awesome!!!! It reminded me of being back home in the mountains. Another great day, another great weekend, another moment for me to realize how lucky we are to be able to do this.

Thanks to everyone who came and all our sponsors for giving us the support to be out there and represent. Giga-OM, ARO Pistachios, Baia Pasta, Whole Athlete, Dan Tian Wellness, Elemental Herbs, De La Paz Coffee, Justins Nut Butter, Lazer Helmets, Focus Bikes, and Fresh Air Bicycles!!!!

(photo: ronaldmariano.com)

-DB