Ed. Note. This is an old post I dug up on Paskenta which is this Sunday. Since CX Worlds are all moved to Saturday, due to possible flooding, and some of you might not be on the 49er bandwagon, I figured you might need some suggestions for stuff to do.
Every Superbowl Sunday Chico becomes one of the most watched places in the cycling world. In a time bound tradition that goes back to the days of when race bikes were Italian, and George Mount was a god, Chico’s “Paskenta” event, an unofficial, non-sactioned, show up and tough it out in the central valley,race, that is not a race, attracts everybody from pro’s to the guy down the street thats been riding it for 30 years. The event even draw’s riders from the pro ranks with luminaries like last years winner, Paul Mach, and 2012 victor Andy Jacques-Maynes.
Paskenta is famed for its distance, which is estimated at 100 miles, to a four mile dirt section located near the race’s namesake, of Paskenta, Ca. The race is mostly flat but includes a few climbs in the middle of the course pitching riders over group of rollers totaling, 1700 vertical feet, that suck riders legs before they reach the finish.
The 2012 edition drew almost 350 riders who lined up in Summer like conditions, and became a battle between Andy and Ben Jacques-Maynes, that may prove to be a glimpse into what the NRC road season might looks like
“It was a battle to the line – I thought Ben was going to take it because it looked like he was being led out by Andy…..but no go….Andy was strong all day long out there, leading the way through the gravel too.” said Paskenta custodian Rodney Cox. Cox, who is the
We caught up with Rodney Cox, of Chico’s R.A.C.E events to learn more about the traditions and layout of Paskenta
Paskenta – When did it start?
Paskenta was started by the Chico Velo Cycling Club(www.ChicoVelo.org) around 1981, and has been going on pretty much every year since. It is held every year on Super Bowl Sunday. Obviously, it started quite small and has grown through the years. I remember when we only had a very small group out there. But, this last Sunday, I think we had around 300-350 riders or so.There is a lot of history here, who are some famous winners?I will have to look in the record books, but off the top f my head, past winners include Mike Callahan, Mike Peavy, Jesse Moore, Svein Tuft, Paul Mach, Andy Jacques-Maynes(this past Sunday) and many others.
The prize is unique – can you tell us about it?
The “winner” of Paskenta receives the “Paskenta Trophy”.. In addition, the winner receives a trophy they get to keep too, not to mention all the bragging rights….and the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the finish!
Give me some detail on the course, it’s like a central valley belgian race…
The Paskenta course is 100 miles in length and includes about 1,700 feet of total climbing – primarily rollers towards the middle of the course. In addition, once past the little town of Paskenta, there is a 4-mile gravel road – this section, through the years, has proven the decisive point in the “race” for breaks to get away. The gravel section also includes rollers, making it difficult to control the bike if the gravel is loose(which has been usual the past couple of years).
What is it exactly, i suppose it’s not really a race….
The course is a 100-mile loop – everyone starts together. No USA Cycling license required and no entry fee. It is, in essence, an unsupported Century ride/race held every year on Super Bowl Sunday. As of now, we have about 250-350 riders out there. There is a promenade through Chico to get on to Meridian Road north of town……this is where the “race” really begins. If the winds are blowing from the north, it can be a battle on Meridian and Lassen Roads at the beginning of the ride.
Sounds low key – it’s more informal than your usual USAC event…
Very informal. We DO have a Start & Finish area – and we do have a pre-ride announcement where we inform the riders of course problems, challenges and so forth. We do time it as well. In addition, there are usually 5 or 6 follow vehicles staying with the lead group of riders – SAG vehicles, carrying wheels, water, tires, tubes, tools, etc. The winner gets the trophy, we usually have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and bottled Coca-Cola for the riders at the finish – sort of a mini-post-Paskenta party.
How does the race usually unfold?
With the great weather like we’ve had, the lead pack normally stays together until they get closer to the town of Paskenta – almost mid-way through the ride. By this point, the lead pack is probably down to around 30-50 riders. Once in Paskenta, the rollers start……and then they hit the gravel road. By the time the riders are out of the gravel, the pack is usually splintered – with small groups within 10-minutes of each other. This year, a lead pack of 6 riders developed after the gravel. They worked really well together – this group included Andy Jacques-Maynes, Ben Jacques-Maynes, Paul Mach, Max Jenkins and two other riders. Andy and Ben ended up sprinting it out at the end, with Andy winning, Ben second and Max Jenkins third.However, weather can really play a factor at Paskenta. If it’s raining and/or windy, the group can really shatter by the time they hit Corning(prior to Paskenta).
It sounds like a strong man’s course, with riders like Svein Tuft winning…
Honestly, there is no faking it at Paskenta – you’re either strong or you’re dropped. The list of riders who have won the “race” were and are strong riders of the time. The length of the course, the rollers, the gravel, the wind conditions – everything – adds up to a trying experience for every rider out there. The best riders are usually all-rounders.
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