Snelling Road Race
by Charles Hutcheson (Marc Pro – Strava)
Snelling is the first real big race in Northern California, kind of like the Mid-Atlantics Jeff Cup with similar terrain. There were over 130 racers starting the pro/1/2 race, including over ten from Mike’s Bikes. With the recent additions of Roman Kilun and Daniel Holloway, as well as some very respected and well established riders like James LaBerge and Eric Riggs, Mike’s was the team to beat. There were other, well-represented teams like Squadra SF, and other riders who don’t need teams to kick your butt, like Fast Freddy Rodriguez, Kirk Carlsen, Logan Loader, and Eric Wohlberg. As usual, the wind at Snelling was a huge factor in the race at around 15 mph with gusts of 30.
The first time through the hilly section, the field spit up and then came back together. That, in combination with the wind, left the main group at around 50. The second lap through the hilly section seemed to hurt the group even more, and the fact that it went single file through the cross wind section right after brought the front group down to around twelve. Included were Freddy Rodriguez, Chris Stastny (Hagens Berman), Joshua Carling (Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), Roman, Eric Riggs, James LaBerge, Justin Rossi (Marc Pro – Strava), Nate Freed (Marc Pro – Strava), me, and some other pretty strong riders. The group worked well together and it seemed that, for the time being, nobody cared that some of the sprinters were sitting on. Justin and Nate were drilling it with full faith that somehow I could pull off the win.
At about the same time that Eric Riggs flatted out of the group, Eric Wohlberg and Logan Loader towed some other riders across to get Holloway up there. Logan and Eric went right to the front and immediately started pulling through.
With two laps to go Chris Stastny took a pretty hard pull and ended up about three bike lengths off the front. I did not like my chances with so many awesome sprinters, so I jumped out of the group to join him. We were quickly joined by Freddy and Wohlberg. I looked over my shoulder and saw the group splintered all over the road behind us. Freddy pulled through and took the initial pull that secured our gap and destroyed the rest of our legs in the process. The next 20 minutes we all rotated really well together and it was extremely painful–especially when Freddy was pulling. After a while, we settled down.
On the final lap, I tried to jump away from the group in hopes of getting some separation between me and Freddy, but when I looked over my shoulder he was the only one still there. We continued to rotate while Stastny slowly clawed his way back on. Somehow, when Stastny got back, he ended up on the front heading into the sprint. At about 300 meters, I thought I could surprise them and jump slightly early, but Freddy responded immediately. I initially had about a bike length on him…then a wheel…then half-a-wheel..then an inch…and suddenly the line went by my wheel!
It was really cool to be in the break of four with some really respected riders. Afterwards, all three guys were class acts. It made racing what it should be–fun. And, not gonna lie, winning helps.