Last week my brother (Nigel) and teammate Kyle Buckosky started our trip home from Oxnard, California. We had had been renting a house with various other cyclists from BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec for the last two months. It was so nice to get away from the rain and to be able to prepare for the upcoming season in a warm, sunny climate (sorry to all the BC’ers reading this, I heard it was a nasty winter).
So we started our trek back north but we stopped in Chico, California to hit up one the premier California stage races; Chico Stage Race. Chico is an awesome way to open up the season with four stages over three days, a classy field and a 145 km road race on stage 2 you get a good bang for your buck. We had the pleasure of staying with the same host house as last year and Nancy and Jay were just as fantastic as always!
So the racing kicked off on Friday with 75 minute circuit race at Thunderhill Race track. Withe the course being on a racetrack it was on beautiful pavement with wide, smooth turns, and a couple nice kickers to blunt the legs and burn the lungs just enough. It was a pretty tame race in general and I had a good crack at the end pretending to be a sprinter and landed myself a 10th place along with the white jersey (best young rider). Unfortunately in the men’s circuit race there was a crash in the final sprint and teammate Kyle hit the deck pretty hard. Fortunately he got bandaged up and was good to go for stage two!
The next day was a long 145 km road race with a total of 20 km in gravel sections. This is actually one of my favorite races all year. The rolling Paskenta hills are beautifully green and the brutal gravel sections add excitement and a level of difficulty that makes it a super unique race. With Twenty16 being the largest and strongest team in the race it was no doubt that they took control leading into the first gravel section, with the pace that they set the race was split up into three groups. Going into the gravel section the second time there were a couple attacks and coming out we had our select group of twenty or so riders. The last 30 km were super tough with attacks flying left and right. A four women break went with 20 km or so left and I was left silently cursing myself back in the bunch...I really did not want to have to sprint from the pack! With about 2 km’s left we caught the final two riders left in the break, but I did not get a chance to sprint because unfortunately a rider crashed right in front of me. Sending healing vibes to Alison! Never nice to see a rider crash but it is even worse when it is a fellow Canadian.
Going into the final day we just had the time trial and downtown crit to race. The time trial definitely did not go to plan. It for sure felt like the first time trial of the year!
The final stage was the lung-busting 55 minute crit. With the course having six corners (!!) in less than 1 km, it made for not a super fast race but with primes and sprint points up for grabs there were rarely ever any breaks. We finished the race without any crashes and I was happy to be taking the white jersey home.
Shoutout to Kyle for finished the weekend covered in road rash and tegaderm!
Thank you always to the supporters and sponsors of Trek Red Truck. You make our wheels go round!!