See how much better Northern California is than the rest of the world? The powers that be do everything they can to make cycling a joke through drugs, retirement, and general shenanigans and then the s*&! hits the fan. A crazy California kid hits a deer on a descent, carries him to safety, inhales some bodily fluids, and we have perspective restored.
The timing for this kind of mood shift is perfect as NorCal racing is about to change seasons. We have some well defined, if unofficial milestones in the NorCal season which lasts 365 days a year. The PRE SEASON starts up with the San Bruno Hill Climb. The Early Birds, Cherry Pie, and other races fall into this bucket. The beginning and end of this portion is debatable and given Cherry Pies history it could easily be a classic but to make nice and tidy let’s keep most races in January and February in the PRE-SEASON category.
The SPRING CLASSICS start up with Snelling. This is the first big, big race of the year, and is when lots of old school guys really star their season. Chuck in Merco, Madera, Sea Otter, Copperopolis, Wente, Cat’s Hill, Mount Hamilton RR, Pescadero RR, and Nevada City are some of the NorCal majors that go onto even the pro’s resumes when they win. There are a few new races like the Topsport stage race that look promising and could make the leap with a few more years on the calendar.
SUMMER CRIT SEASON gets ramped up with Burlingame and lasts until Timpani. There are a few road race thrown in there but the races to win are Burlingame, Davis, San Rafael, Watsonville, and most importantly the Tour de Nez which is getting more prestigious each year. SUMMER CRIT SEASON winds down at the end of July as preparation for CAL CUP begins.
The season caps off with a Velopromo invention that is the equivalent of the Tour de France, THE CAL CUP. Taking place of a period of about 45 days in August and September CAL CUP has something for everybody. Time Trials, flat road races, hilly road races, and downtown crits make for the most hotly contested regional points series in the country. The women’s CAL CUP has become a launching pad for national caliber riders looking to go from great NorCal rider to possible Olympic hopeful. This is the series for riders across the country looking to get noticed, not the big money crits or some crazy three day stage race. If you can win CAL CUP, you can win a lot.
After CAL CUP most folks retire until they start up again in January or February unless you are a trackie or crosser who devote themselves to….
TRACK SEASON gets’ ramped up in April, and overlaps with the classics season, and lasts till Nationals in October. Local track action all takes place down at Hellyer Velorome but the hard core folks make their way up to Alpenrose and Marymoor for the big west coast races. They aren’t NorCal events specifically but they are good folks and show up for the big Hellyer Race the Testarossa Velodrome Challenge (TVC.) Other than the TVC the other big races are the Friday Nite Fights, and district championships for masters and elites. The Friday Nite series is a great freakshow with costumes, beer, and great racing. While the crowd is smaller than what you get at a cross race, they are definitely meaner.
CROSS SEASON gets started ungodly early in NorCal with races going as far back as August. Moving the National Championships from December to January may push this back a bit but I would expect that the effect to CROSS SEASON will be limited. Local series like CCCX, Surf City, BASP, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and the Reno folks all put on strong events. Having secured Golden Gate Park venue the last few years the Pilarcito’s team’s BASP emerged as a clear leader but will likely only put on a few events after growing beyond their desired size. The center of gravity for cross could drift back to Santa Cruz (home of Peak Season and CCCX) or out to Sacramento, or the North Bay where big crowds have started to show. Cross season is a lonnnnnggggg one with races going off in August and ultimately ending in January.
This for the outsiders, the non-norcal folks, who are not fortunate enough to live and race here and can’t understand the natural ebb and flow the racing community has created to keep themselves entertained 365 days a year. Do we race all these events? No way, you’d have to be crazy. But we do have the option, which is what makes this area the best place to live, breath, and ride your bike.
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