University Road Race

Promoter: Velo Promo

Race Web Site:

Course Description: The start/finish line is midway up the climb, but right before it starts to get more serious than the early portions of the climb.  At about .8km into the loop the road pitches up with sections above 10%.  At the top of the climb the course turns right to start gradually descending towards the bottom of the course.  The descent is not technical at all, BUT, be careful of the right hand turn than comes about about 1.4km.  If it’s dry there is no problem.  Early in the day though it is quite possible or even likely to be wet.  I’ve seen plenty of guys go down for no good reason other than they tried to go too fast in the wet.  And never for a pressing reason like trying to catch back on or push a gap, it was always just purely too fast for the conditions for no good reason.  So pay attention and be careful out there!

The descent is wide open with no turns of significance until you get to the bottom of the course and turn right onto Hagar Drive to start climbing towards the finish.  Through the turn and you start the gradual ascent back towards the finish.

I went to school in Sacramento and when I first did this race I was glad that I didn’t go to school at UCSC.  It’s such a beautiful area I would have had a hard time sticking with my school work and not just sitting and looking out over the ocean!

Road Surface: The pavement is in good shape.

Gearing: I think that you can go either way on this race.  You don’t really NEED and 11 and you probably don’t really NEED anything bigger than a 23.  It will likely boil down to your preferences.  If you like to spin or want to be able to stay in the big ring on the hill then a 26 or 27 will be helpful.  If you’re on 11 speed then something like an 11×26 will be perfect.

Facilities: There are porta cans near registration and if those are crowded there are a couple of more just off the end of the parking lot near the soccer fields.  There is no convenient food and water nearby that I know of. Okay, I’m going to regret telling you this… If you head down the parking lot from registration, about half way down there is a path to one of the soccer fields. Turn left onto that short gravel path and you’ll find a couple of bathrooms that nobody knows about. This is one of my ninja tricks that I’m sharing with you so use it wisely! 🙂

Weather: It will probably start out overcast and cool and then turn beautiful at some point during the day.  it’s probably a good idea to have at least arm warmers and a vest for morning races.

Feeding: The feed zone is just after the start finish.  Velo Promo will have neutral water and with 4.3km laps you will get plenty of chances to feed.

Equipment advice: The pavement is in good shape so bring your light and aero climbing wheels.

Race Advice: This tends to be a race of attrition.   From the start line the road pitches up and has some section above 10% as you approach the top of the course.  Depending on your gearing and strength this can be done in the big ring, but even the strongest riders should only stay in the big ring when there is a good reason to.  For the most part what you’ll want to do is climb near the front and use as little energy as possible on the climb.  The less you burn throughout the race, the more you will have near the end when things get serious.

Try to stay near the front for the right turn at the top of the course to avoid the worst of the accordion effect as riders near the front accelerate up to speed.  The further back you are in the group through that corner, the harder you’ll work getting back up to speed with the group.

Be careful through the second right turn if it’s wet.  Also note that you only have one lane and there WILL be traffic coming uphill at you as that is where the cars get detoured to instead of following the race course.

Try to move near the front as you get to the bottom of the descent.  Again, the accordion effect is strong after this corner as the riders up front accelerate up to speed into the climb while riders behind are still braking.

Near and after the finish line is where the big moves will happen to try and break up the field.  Expect it to take several laps of hard attacks in this section of the course late in the race to start breaking things up.

With “the climb” defined by the corner at the bottom and the corner at the top expect hard laps to be done at an average of your threshold power and really hard laps to end up being something like 5′ near your VO2 max power.  Three or four laps like that late in the race will do some serious damage!

If you have to sprint for the finish keep in mind that it’s a pretty evil sprint after all of those laps.  Try to wait as long as you can to avoid blowing up in the sprint.  Or maybe, just try to blow up less than the others in your group. 🙂

Lodging: There are hotels all over Santa Cruz, including at least one Motel 6.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe