Nevada City Classic

Promoter: Nevada City Classic

Course: A 1.1 mile loop with 110 feet of climbing per lap.

Course Description: Up, then down. Repeat until they ring the bell and let you stop.

Road Surface: Mostly good, but bumpy in places.

Gearing: Bring a A 36 or 39×23 will work. Optionally bring a wider cassette and use the big ring on the climb when appropriate.

Facilities: Porta Cans and places to get food all over the place.

Weather: It’s almost always hot here. I mean really hot, like about 90+ degrees. So hot that sometimes the only reason you keep going around is because of that wonderful man with the hose at the top of the hill.

Feeding: Surprisingly for a criterium there is feeding at the top of the hill. I usually go through three or four bottles in this race. It would be a big mistake to come to this race without making arrangements to get fed during the race. If it’s hot, two bottles won’t be enough for the pro race.

Rules Specific to this race: NO Free laps!

Race Advice: Get to the front IMMEDIATELY! Sooner if possible! This race starts out ballistic and will stay that way for about five to ten laps. At that point it will settle down to a more reasonable pace. Reasonable being a “relative” term here. You’ve got to just gut it out until things settle. Usually at that point you’ll be a lead group of about twenty riders. Sometimes the winning break will already be gone by now.

The further back you are in the group, the worse you’re going to feel the accordion effect as you go through the corners on the climb. This race is too hard to be wasting energy, get up front if at all possible.

Ready for more bad news? It’s not terribly uncommon for the top riders (even some local guys) to ride the whole circuit in their big chain ring. Maybe not every lap, but a lot of the time. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. You should carry a lot of momentum through the bottom two corners and will still be going around 15 mph when you get to the first right turn. It pitches up a bit more here and again as you turn left and then again for just a bit as you turn right. Then it flattens out and is only slightly uphill until one last little pop up at the top of the course. Contrary to what any advertisements or race announcements say the course only climbs about 110 feet per lap. Don’t worry, it’s still plenty hard.

At the top you slowly start your way down until the final drop down Broad Street and the finish line. Expect speeds of over 40mph on this hill. The two corners at the bottom are both off camber and you need to be careful. Every once in a while somebody dumps it here at speed and hits the hay bales. It doesn’t look like fun. You must also remember though that every bit of speed to scrub off is momentum lost for the climb. The second corner is also off camber and sharper than 90 degrees. I’ve come REALLY close to hitting the hay bales at the end of the second corner on several occasions. Your line through the corners is everything. Use as much of the road as possible to straighten out the corners.

There really isn’t that much in the way of tactics for this race. Just go really hard, stay at the front if possible and you’ll eventually settle into a group. Hopefully it will be the front group. Don’t freak out if you get lapped! It is rare for more than about six or eight riders to finish on the same lap as the leader. You can get lapped twice and still make money! Also this race is a complete bitch to score so cut the officials some slack and try and be helpful. It will get you out of there quicker. Watch for drunk spectators. They are everywhere. In the 1994 race I tagged a drunk woman who jumped the fence (beer in hand) just as I was coming out of turn two. She did the squirrel dance (back and forth and then straight for me) and I pegged her at about 25 mph. It pretzeled my wheel, broke a knuckle and cost me a much higher placing on a day when I felt as good as I’d ever felt at this race. Oh well. BTW, except for a spilled beer she was fine.

This really is a must do race. It was my first race as a cat 2 and the crowds are just spectacular. It’s probably as close to the feeling of racing in Europe as most of us will get with the spectators on the side of the road shouting for you. Do this race! If you win, they will comp your entry fee to the race every year afterwards. I can’t emphasize this point enough: This is just about the coolest race in the whole country. Do this race!

Lodging: There are hotels and motels in Nevada City and Grass Valley. It might be a good idea to find a place in Auburn. It’s only about a 30 minute drive and you should find better availability and better prices.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe

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