Promoter: Berkeley Bike Club
Course: A Hilly 10 mile loop through Crockett.
Course Description: There is one main thing to consider on this course. McEwen Road. It’s steep and you’re going to have to go up it a number of times.
Road Surface: The roads are all in decent shape.
Gearing: Bring the smallest gear you have. Don’t think about it, just bring it. McEwen is steep, up to 14% in places and climbs over 500 feet in just over a mile. You’ll do it a minimum of 4 times and as many as 8 if you’re a Pro/1/2 male.
Facilities: There is no water at the start/finish area. Nearby Crockett will have anything you might need.
Weather: Expect cool temperatures due to the early start and also the proximity to the Carquinez Straight. It could get warm on the Franklin Canyon portion of the course, but you’ll soon be back near the water where it’s cooler..
Feeding: The feed zone will be on Franklin Canyon Road leading up to the finish line..
Rules Specific to this race: No Crybabies!
Race Advice: McEwen Road will define how this race goes. The race will shatter on this climb, it’s just a question of which lap. You can either make it up this climb with the best in your group or you can’t. Assuming you make that split it might be possible to make something happen after you crest the climb. The group might not be in the mood to go hard after you. The catch is that you (or your small group) will need a pretty reasonable gap to hold off the fresher legs in the group behind the next time up McEwen.
If you’ve got the legs, waiting until maybe mid race when the pack has dwindled and riders are tired might be a good time for that move as there will be fewer and more tired legs trying to chase.
Another option would be to try and get away through Crockett. This is kind of a classic move as you have a bunch of riders behind not wanting to work hard leading up to the climb you’re heading towards. A concerted effort up front combined with an unwillingness to go hard behind can give you a nice gap. The question is whether or not it will be enough to hold off the group up McEwen.
And finally, if you’re feeling great you can force a selection on McEwen and go to the line with a small group.
The finish hill is a nice grind. You might be able to take it in the big ring, but I doubt that there would be any advantage to it. Probably much safer to settle into the small ring. The finish is likely to be into a headwind though so be patient and don’t go too early.
Here’s an ancedote from when I did this race in 1986. It was part of “The Lemond Series” which was a series of road races each Saturday and Sunday over the course of 5 weeks starting in early February. This race was about mid way through the series and lucky us, the 7-11 team was in town and showed up. The team that won two stages of the Giro d’Italia the previous summer… Men among boys… Ron Keifel, Bob Roll, Alex Stedia, Davis Phinney, etc.
Anyway, it was of course brutally hard, partially due to the course and largely due to the 7-11 team. I slogged my way through somewhere in the top 10 and was happy enough with that. I remember hearing Ron Keifel (one of those Giro stage winners from 1985) talking after the race. He said, “Yeah, I used the 39×23 when we were cruising and my 21 when it was time to go hard”. I used by 39×24 every single lap. There really was no other option. So, if you’re up for maybe winning a stage in the Giro your 39×23 will be fine.
Corrections and additions, please email me!