At a time of year when most American cyclists are still weather-trapped in musty basements and car-less garages, sweating buckets over rollers and bitching about not having enough TdF videos to watch … we in California are scoping out the upcoming races where we can “get in a little speedwork.”
NorCal’s Early Bird Criteriums are like the first day of school where everybody checks out who’s wearing what and sniffs around to see who the cool kids will be for the semester. Personally, I’ve no intention of going to the EBs, preferring instead to head out for some ground and pound against my girlfriend on the slopes of Mt Diablo or Morgan Territory.
But, there is always a big contingent of folks out for the first few Early Birds … and those riding in the cat1/2/3s, men and women cat 4s ~ you will be issued a ‘permanent’ timing chip from the registration table. Exact info is as follows:
“NCNCA Chip Timing permanent chips will be available, and required for some groups: Cat 1/2/3 riders, Wm 4 riders and Cat 4 riders will be assigned permanent timing chips to use at many races during the year. All riders in these groups at the Early Birds must have them in place. There will be no cost for this, but the replacement cost (if you lose it) will be $30. You’ll need a bit more time at registration and the chip desk, so don’t show up at the last moment. Other riders (except Cat 5) can also pick up their per-manent NCNCA chips at the first three Early Birds whether racing or not. Cat 5 riders will not be using chips during the year. More Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, (209) 533-4996 or www.velopromo.com”
Now, there is a long list of reasons why timing chips are good, and why they are a stupid waste of money. But the point is ~ they are not optional for events using the system. So, spread the word amongst your team/club/friends that some NCNCA races will be using the chips and that more time at registration will need to be afforded to get one; you’ll need to keep that bugger in good condition; and you’ll need to make sure you install and maintain it correctly.
On to real races …
One of my favorite criterium courses in NorCal is the Landpark hammerfest out in Sacramento. The January 29th race is a fundraiser for the UCDavis cycling team … and I really hope the turnout is strong for this supremely cool event. The course is long, safe, and a fantastic way to blow the carbon out of those winter engines.
Years back, the course was altered to add in a pitch perfect little 180 jiggle and set of smartly snookered chicanes that made the course just challenging enough to keep folks minds in the game, attentions locked on technique, and all in all … shit safe and sane. The finish is an eternity of a sweeping, glorious drag strip, offering spectators time to place bets and grab a sandwhich before the first finisher throws an arm up in celebration.
CCCX … circuits of pain
The CCCX crew put on races year-round in the Monterey area and if you’re looking for something that offers prizes, official placings, and a closed road loop … switch away from the EBs and make the trip to Fort Ord for the first Central Coast Circuit Race of the year.
Depending on your start time ~ I recommend either a breakfast before at the Moss Landing Cafe, or a lunch afterward at the Whole Enchilada. These places are right off Hwy 1 and work great on the gut for prepping or posting for races.
The CCCX circuits have no yellow line restrictions and just enough swoopy-swishy action to give you not only a tremendous workout for your lungs and legs, but get your mind and reflexes into the game of finding fast lines and riding close quarters with the other kids. These events are perfect for those riders looking to grab upgrade points or simply put the body back into the action.
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February awaits us …
Faster than you think, Cherry Pie will be upon us … and the true launch of the NCNCA Spring Fling. The new and improved Merco Stage Race is going to be a real head-turner and I quite literally cannot wait to strap on a number and race that shit up.
So, check out the calendars ~ take a look at doing a MTB race, or two for grins … and maybe even see you out at the velodrome soon.
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