Lee and Panoche Valley

Will, Nelson and I met down by Hollister for the 4th Panoche Valley RR. Their 08 reports convinced me to check it out. Great event hosted by the local Lions club and Blossom Hill Winery. Awesome roads and scenery with sections reminiscent of Cantelow with lots of twisty turns, etc. Not an issue going up but lookout on the way down. Our field sold out weeks ago and the top finishers from Wente, Copperopolis and Berkeley RR were in attendance.
Yikes! Our immediate goal was to stick on the climbs. They told me that last year about a dozen made the selection over the top but this year about half the field made it as a group! Will attacked multiple times to soften up the pack. Great shots of Will putting in a blistering peel off the front on the way up. http://www.timallenphotography.biz/albums/2009_panoche_valley_road_race_race_photos/slides/TIM_8732.html
Will was caught before the top but Nelson and I made it to the front as we prepared to bomb down the hill. We worked with another racer to keep it ramped up but he was clearly a better descender and easily put a huge gap on us. I looked back and saw the pack was strung out but intact so Nelson and I let him go and he kept going, and going and pretty soon he was completely out of sight! The guy easily put minutes into a disorganized pack. Lots of riders were able to latch back on while San Jose got taunted (they had 10 riders) and shamed into leading the chase. Will would randomly attack on the rollers and animate the group. We finally caught the solo breakaway with about 5 k to go. Will put in another huge dig up front that ramped it up for good. People finally got real interested and kept the pace high. The 1 k sign came into view and I hopped on the next wheel heading for the front. Eric Salander from Peninsula Velo surprised everyone by going really early. I waited just a hair to see if anyone else would chase -- NOPE! I sprinted to grab his wheel then he got off the saddle to sprint! No prob I was clearly gaining and about to overtake him then the darn finish line got in the way. He deserved the win! I'll gladly take 2nd. Nelson got 10th but Will deserves the prize -- he totally sacrificed himself by attacking no less than 4 times to soften up the (gullible) contenders! I spoke to the solo breakaway rider afterwards and he said we was full of self doubt and decided to sit up and wait for the pack! I told him the pack was disorganized and he could have won solo. He followed up with "MAN! I'm going to be thinking 'what if' all week..." Lots of food and drinks served at the finish. It was pretty hot especially for the central coast. People were diving for cover under the oleander bushes that lined the Winery. Several riders were brought in for heat stress. One guy came in with a possible broken femur. His spectacular crash was captured by the official photographer. He apparently overcooked one of those twisty turns. http://www.timallenphotography.biz/albums/2009_panoche_valley_road_race_stefano_scampini_wreck/slides/TIM_9338.html Podium shots: http://www.timallenphotography.biz/albums/2009_panoche_valley_road_race_award_photos/slides/DSC_5152.html I didn't want to strike that "Don't shoot, I give up!" AKA "Underarm deodorant commercial" pose So I did my best impression of Fred... ;-D http://www.timallenphotography.biz/albums/2009_panoche_valley_road_race_award_photos/slides/DSC_5153.html Lee

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