Snelling Road Race
by Freddie Rodriguez
A windy day with warm weather and it was great to see a full field of 130 riders; from young, top juniors to high-level masters racing the pro 1/2. This year, my focus is to promote fastfreddieapparel.com and myffgranfondo.com, both of which support fastfreddiefoundation.org. Lots off FFs, but they are all worthy ideas and causes. I am working closely with Kirk Carlsen, as he’s a rider that the FFF believes in and supports. Kirk was also at the race, causing a lot of pain on the field, but at the end he got taken out by mechanical.
For me, racing Snelling is like returning to my roots. These are the events that got me started. I still remember making road trips with my junior team (Montorse) from LA for hard, northern California road races.
Anyways, back to the race. I had no goal other than helping Kirk break up the field. The wind proved to be the biggest hurdle of the day. Every lap the group started to split in the same spots. From my many years of racing in Belgium, I learned there is only one good place in windy races–up at the front rotating in the echelon.
I was having fun with the wind and had some fast Mad Fiber wheels that seem to give me a small advantage on some of the guys. If you see most of the pictures from the day, I spent most of the time being as aero as possible.
At one point after the second lap, as Kirk brought the break back, I took a jump on a small hill to get across to the break. That proved to be the winning break of the day, or at least the main break as later we splintered again.
I quickly took over the majority of the work with the simple intention of getting a hard day’s work. We got a good gap and felt we had control. I was outnumbered with 3 Strava guys and 3 Mike’s Bikes riders, but the day was still early. At one point, Logan Loader came across, which I viewed as good for me. Logan and I work closely through the foundation, so I knew I could count on him racing well and that would benefit us both.
Chuck proved to be the most aggressive of the bunch and he made the most attacks. He actually made us suffer, but we would give him our poker faces whenever he looked back. He finally made the perfect attack–that I followed–and when it looked good I gave it all I had. At that point, I had Chuck, Chris, and Eric with me. I knew we had a good combo but we did miss the key Mike’s BIkes rider. That made me nervous, but our group proved stronger than the chasers. I wasn’t thinking of results yet, but I was happy to take on the majority of the work load. Chuck also proved to be very strong and gave some great pulls.
Once we realized that this was the winning break and we had a lap to go, we all started to relax a bit. I was having some issues with my back.
On a side note, the last couple of days I taught Isabella and Max how to ride on two wheels. Very exciting! The only problem was that I put in some heavy miles of chasing them around the blacktop. Needless to say, not the best thing a cyclist should be doing, especially for a guy who hasn’t run since high school cross country.
Anyways, I went to stretch my quad with half a lap to go, cramping my hamstring in the process. Not pretty, but I played it off and sat on for a while to let the muscle relax. Finally, I was able to help a bit, but I knew I had to be careful with a cramp from then on.
I knew Chuck would attack in hopes of getting away solo. I was able to hold him off–and somehow avoid cramping–but we did lose Eric and we almost lost Chris.
At that point, we all knew it was up to the sprint finish. I kept the speed high for most of the last couple kilometers to deter Chuck from attacking. It happened that Chris took the lead with 550 to go and started the lead-out. I knew I was going to cramp as soon as I started the sprint, so I waited as long as I could. When I saw Chuck coming by me, I started to hit it. My muscle quickly cramped but I fought through it knowing the line was just ahead. Chuck proved to have great legs and I couldn’t hold him off. As I crossed the finish, my leg froze. As you can see in the finish picture, I was standing up because I didn’t have a choice.
It was a great day of local NorCal racing and I was impressed by Chuck’s effort and heart, taking the bull by the horns and racing hard. At one point, when I asked how much time we had he just yelled out, “let’s just race!”
One last note: I’d like to thank everyone that came up to me and shared their support for my efforts of putting on the Fast Freddie Gran Fondo. I just want to let everyone know that everyone counts and having you come out and tell your friends will make every bit of difference for all the youth cycling programs we want to support.