I love watching Cat’s Hill, which this year is sponsored by Mike’s Bikes. I even like racing Cat’s Hill. It’s a fun, fun, fun crit in a great neighborhood & downtown location. It’s a Peninsula treasure like the Burlingame Crit, Hellyer Velodrome, or Pesky RR. It’s second only to Nevada City in prestige, and sports a list of past champions that is stacked with Olympians, Hall of Famers, and World Champions. I watched, or raced, it every year I lived in California and picked up a few tidbits that might help should you find yourself racing, or watching. If you are tweeting it just do #catshill, I’m not likely to spell more than that.
1. Don’t shift at the bottom of the hill. Ever. Don’t forget.
2. When you shift at the bottom of the hill and drop your chain don’t cut the course. It’s 50/50 if they let you start again. You are better off running to the top like cyclocross racer and taking a bow, like a concert pianist, just at at the mouth of the second hill.
3. Once you get to the top of the hill sprint over the false flat, second hill. It’s the only way to survive.
4. I’m pretty sure that nobody that wins, hits the breaks when they go into the final downhill-ish corner, despite the bad pavement.
5. Climbers: Do everything in your power to drop the sprinters – they can win this.
6. Sprinters: Do everything in your power to get your fat ass over that hill. You can win this.
7. Time Trialers: Drop out after a few laps. Nobody will blame you.
8. Watching people pass, in the pack, on the downhill section into the finishing straight, makes me puke. Might test that out to see how the pack feels about it.
9. If you can’t see the breakaway just let them go, they are gone.
10. If you are in a break they are gonna catch you, better keep going. (See what I did there? I’m helping you out! Better just launch breaks all day.)
11. Guys: If Marc Pro shows up they are going for a break. If Mikes shows up they are going for a sprint or a break. If Cal Giant shows in force they just want to make your eyeballs bleed. Men of the peloton… i think your best bet is to start attacking from the gun and never, ever stop. Being pack fodder at #catshill is no fun. Better to go out in a blaze of glory. Rock and Roll style racing would dictate you lead up that hill at least once…
12. Women: If my memory serves all you have to do is make the selection up the hill the last lap and you got a shot. It always seems like it’s four riders spaced apart duking it out down the hill and into the corner. Get into that corner first!
13. If you get dropped take a victory lap. The crowd loves to heckle, cheer, and push people up the hill. Your participation in the show will be rewarded.
14. Reminder: Don’t shift at the bottom of the hill. Maybe halfway through the straight away going into the hill.
15. Pre-ride the course and take the uphill at speed, always faster than you think, to pick your gear. Sprinters are good at this kind of thing. Watch what they do, then shift up a gear to make it harder.
16. If you think you are a contendor scope our your ‘fast’ line through the final corner. Last lap is crazy town and you want that one dialed in.
17. Tell your family to watch on the hill and then move to the park. I’m pretty sure you can smoke a joint there and nobody will say anything. That or play catch with your kids. I forgot, is pot legal now or not?
18. If this is a high alcohol year, it happens every 6 years or so like secadas, then you might see some flesh. If you see some flesh reward it with a water bottle. Don’t squirt them. Just lay it at their feet like they are an ancient greek god, which is probably what they think they look like. This is a family event so I don’t encourage it. Now i say that and still take my kids to A’s games…and that’s just crazy town.
19. Pick up any liter you see on the road or in peoples yards. It’s the right thing to do.
20. Contribute to NCCN and maybe I’ll tell you where are secret parking spot is. It’s the best. It’s close, easy to exit, and always available. It’s a highly guarded secret, but I will share… for a price.. <queue evil laugh>
Note to spectators: No matter what you have to watch some of the race from the hill. It’s an impressive spot and the variety of climbing styles, dropped chains, and race winning moves riders make here mean it’s always exciting.
If you ever question the validity of this advice remember the adage “Those that can’t do tell other people how it should get done cause we know better since we don’t have to do it.”
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