Racing in California: Lodi Cycle Fest

On my last day in the US, I went to Lodi, California to compete in my second criterium event of the weekend. You can read my report on the San Rafael Twilight here.  A good report on the Lodi Presented by Michael-David Winery can be viewed on the Lodi News site and Marc Pro Strava have a first hand account of the Pro 1,2 race.  A another nice report found here.

JD Bergman (Clif Bar) leading Roman Kilun (KENDA) through the corner

Quite a few of the criterium riders from the star-studded field of San Rafael made the trip out to race at Lodi, including Rahsaan Bahati’s squad of the SKLZ-Pista Palace cycling team (read about his team on Velonews) and a whole bunch of the NorCal criterium fastest talent.  Just over 70 riders took to the start-line of the feature Pro event of the day and racing on the pancake flat figure of eight race course was lightning quick and strung out for much of the race. I had started well moving up to the front of the field, following Rahsaan Bahati, and going into the second lap, I found myself second wheel, behind Bahati, but he sat up so I drilled it down the back straight to keep it strung out. I then floated back down the field to recover from my effort.

Bahati going through turn eight

The opening stanzas – the first 10 laps or so were lightning fast at speeds of over 50km/h, and averaging 46km/h. This is pretty good for a figure eight criterium course that was pretty tight in places.  Numerous attacks kept going up the road and I was able to follow some of them, but none were sticking. At about the half-way point, I saw that a breakaway had suddenly formed and was dangling at about 10-15 seconds in front. I sensed that this was going to be the breakaway of the race as it contained riders like Steve Reaney (California Giant Berry), SKLZ-Pista Palace riders, JD Bergmann from Clif Bar racing, Logan Loader,  and Eric Barlevav just to name a few of the heavy hitters in the break of 13 riders.  I gallantly tried to bridge the gap on my own, but quickly found myself in no-mans land and then was caught  by the chasing peloton that was keen on keeping the race under control as all the major teams were represented.

As I was back in the field and following wheels, disaster struck when I hit the only pot-hole on the course and resulted in a blow out and a broken spoke! This was not good as I had just gotten a new Vittoria tubular glued on at Studio Velo only a couple of days prior! So I took a lap out to get a wheel replacement from Williams Wheels at the pit. I jumped back into the main field but by this  time, the break was already well and truly established with a minimum 30 second lead which is hard to single handedly bring back on your own. I just sat in the field to wait for the bunch sprint for 14th place. I was setting myself up well for this finale and when I saw the lap counter say one to go… I thought I was in for a good chance to test my sprint against some good sprinters in the pack, like Rahsaan Bahati. Going through the final turn, I was in the top five and sprinted to second in what I believed was the finish. But, no, there was still another lap to go. The announcer had messed things up and I had not heard the announcement due to my hearing impairment. So, the race went around for another lap to which I had no sprinting legs for and rolled in for 31st position out of 70 riders.

Strava file can be found here. Although I did not win the race, I currently hold the KOM for fastest lap time!

For those of you that don’t know, Lodi is a small city located in the Northern portion of California’s Central Valley and is well known for being the Wine Production Capital of the World. So it is quite apt that  Michael-David Winery came onboard as the Lodi Cycle Fest’s major sponsor. All of the top placed riders received the flagship Seven Deadly Sins wine, including myself for placing in the 35 plus 1,2,3 event. I promptly gave this bottle of wine to my host/friend as I don’t drink alcohol!  Despite the low crowd attendance in the historic section of the Lodi Township, the Cycle Fest shows some great promise to become one of California’s more popular events. It only debuted in 2009 and the promoter, Dominick Brookes (also an avid bike racer) is full of optimism for the future of Lodi Cycle Fest saying that it would be great to tie in with other promoters such as the San Rafael Twilight. Having a double-criterium weekend where all the riders turn out in full force would be great for the town of Lodi. This will also draw in more crowds to watch the exciting action. The Lodi Cycle Fest is an event that is only going to grow strength to strength and the 2012 edition is promised to be bigger and better.

The two races I entered at Lodi capped off a big weekend of California racing – having also done two races at San Rafael the previous night. This was great preparation to get some speed in my legs for the upcoming Mongolia Bike Challenge. Presently I am now back in Hangzhou, China recovering from the jetlag and trying to adjust to the heavy sticky heat!

Check out the photos below. Click on the photos for larger viewing size.

Kimberly Fong, Cat 2 racer for the Michael David Winery Cycling Team

 

The Pro Men's start at the Lodi Cycle Fest

I lined up at the very front!

Taking off at the gun...

I'm at the front of the race with Bahati on my wheel (see his Predator handlebars!)

The pain of the pace shows...

Webcor bad-ass Rand Miller cornering

Rand Miller on the attack as Steve Reaney watches on

Marc Pro Strava rider leading Logan Loader

There was some good crowd support

Enjoying the wine is left,  Mary Ellen Ash, (she also won the recent 2011 Berkeley Bike Club Crit), and right: Martina Patella, the wife of Roman Kilun

The Pro Men's podium

Photos courtesy of Stefan Pommerenk

Astounding News flash: Steve Reaney and Rand Miller went 1-2 at the Watsonville Crit, and repeated the feat the next day at the Berkeley Bike Club Criterium. Whats more, in both races they lapped the entire field!