Patterson Pass Road Race

Promoter:  Velo Promo

Race Web Site:

Course Description: A hilly 35.8 km loop with about 650 meters of elevation gain per lap.

Road Surface: Mostly good road surfaces.

Gearing: Bring the easiest gears you’ve got for this one. Nothing says fun like a 13% pitch into a block headwind. I can go with a 36×26 low gear, but I’ll usually put on a 36×28, just… because. I can always not use it if it’s not windy, but it’s nice to have if I want it. I did the p/1/2 race a few years back in a 50×12 top gear. Usually that was never an issue. Descending Altamont Pass with a ripping tailwind was very hard. These days I’m running a mid compact (36×52) and the 52×11 is enough for Altamont.

Facilities: Porta cans at the parking area.

Weather: The weather will probably be a mixture of cool, hot and WIND. Lots of Wind. Those windmills are there for a reason. It might be a good time to review this article about echelons.

Feeding: The feed zone is on Patterson Pass Road about 1km from the start/finish line.

Rules Specific to this race:

Race Advice: This is a tough race without many places to hide. There are three major obstacles in this race.

  1. The main climb up Patterson Pass
  2. The Flynn Road climb
  3. The wind

The Patterson Pass climb starts almost before everybody gets clipped in at the start. Over the course of 7.5km you climb 368 meters. On a calm day this climb would probably shred the group into little bits on the first lap. But you may notice the windmills all around you. They are there because the wind blows here. It blows pretty much all the time, it’s just a question of how hard. In general it blows from west to east which means that the further up the climb you go, the more exposed you are to the wind. The last half km or so which is where you would expect the race to blow apart is into a block head wind. This makes it much harder to drop riders on the climb. On the other hand, this climb is the only place I’ve ever been concerned about getting dropped not by the climb, but by not making the echelon in some cross wind stretches.

After descending off of Patterson Pass, the course turns right on Flynn Road where you get to climb what in April is the descent of the Wente Road Race. It starts off easy enough, but gets steep just after it turns left at what I call the “hay bale turn” on the Wente descent. It gets pretty tough here and especially late in the race this is where attacks can be made to split the group up. Treat the left hand turn after the short descent with respect. It’s off camber and not something you can take at full speed.

After descending down the Wente finish climb and turning right on Altamont you’ll have a tail wind as you crest Altamont Pass. Be careful here as the descent is just steep enough to be REALLY FAST, but not steep enough to just tuck in and coast. It is not uncommon to hit 75-80 kph here. This is why you really need to think about gearing for this race.

For me, having a 36×28 on the Patterson Pass climb is really helpful. It allows me to stay in the saddle on the steepest sections into the headwind. With 11 speed drive trains an 11×28 is a nice combo giving me the best of both worlds for climbing and the descent on Altamont. Everybody should probably do their own bit of soul searching regarding gearing. For the love of all things holy don’t crest the top of Altamont 15 seconds off the back or you will never see the group again.

The final portion of each lap is flat. Once you make the turn back west expect to be visited by your old friend the headwind. There are a few rolling hills that could be used to launch successful attacks depending on how tired everybody is. Maybe.

The finish line isn’t very far from the final corner. Long enough where coming through the corner first probably isn’t the best bet, but close enough that 5-10 back is way too far. Check it out before hand and come up with a plan.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe


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