The Parcours: 90 miles over almost 5 laps. Each lap offers up a mix of flats, a few short kickers, a twisty false flat, and a set of three 2-6 minute climbs (the three bears—Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear).
The Field: 40-50 men lined up in the P/1/2 race with Andrew Biscardi, Justin Traud, Luciano Sponza, Greg White, and myself flying the colors for VuMedi Elite Cycling Team.
The Race: The first lap started with the usual attacks: some testing moves from the big teams and hopeful flyers from solo riders. The team took turns covering dangerous moves, but nothing gained a significant advantage. My legs weren’t enjoying the accelerations over the three bears climbs, so at the start of the second lap I put in an acceleration on one of the flat, wide roads. Rather than a sharp attack out of the saddle, I opted for a hard seated acceleration so as not to elicit an immediate response. The trick worked and with the help of brand new, fast-rolling Panaracer Race Type A tires I quickly opened up a 10 second advantage. Dialing back the pressure, I was happy to see Kurt Wolfgang (Squadra SF) bridging up followed closely by Adam Switters (Mike’s Bikes) and Nate Freed (Marc Pro-Strava). Once they made contact, I figured we had quorum and correct team representation to drive the break.
The third time up Mama Bear Switters dropped his chain (intentionally?) and came flying by a few seconds later while everyone else eased up to wait. His attack dropped Woflgang from the group while Freed and I started to chase. With a Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes hand-up from AJ to help stay hydrated and powerful, I plotted to attack Freed on Papa Bear and bridge up to Switters.
There would be no need, however! A group of five caught us just then: Chris Harland-Dunaway and Justin Rossi (Marc Pro-Strava), Craig Fellers (Mike’s Bikes), Roger Arnell (Threshold Sports), and teammate Andrew Biscardi floating up the hills and over the chip seal on his Neilpryde Bura SL. Fellers (surprisingly) took up the job of reeling in his teammate, Switters; in the process, Freed was dropped (Karma?)—killing two birds with the proverbial zero stones for VuMedi.
The group (now 7) rolled somewhat cooperatively for the fourth lap where an attack by HD on Mama Bear dropped Switters. More aggression slowly narrowed it down to just HD, Rossi, Fellers, Arnell, and myself at the start of the final lap. HD attacked and got a gap with Fellers. I expected the TMB-MPS feud to mean little cooperation since Rossi could easily counterattack when the pair came back, but HD and Fellers actually started working together. Rossi, Arnell, and myself cooperated in the chase, but no one was going all-in to pull it back. Eventually, Rossi attacked and bridged up to the leading duo. Knowing it would be a tall order to pull back such a strong time trialist, I measured my efforts as Arnell and I worked together.
The final time up Mama and Papa Bear to the finish, I emptied the tank to distance Arnell and finish 4th. Andrew was passed by a few riders but held off the main field to finish 13th—no doubt just the first of many great results for such a young rider!—while Greg came in 14th followed by Justin and Luciano in the main field.
Read on to find out what the race was like from young gun Andrew Biscardi’s perspective:
Berkeley Hills Road Race has always been a favorite of mine: the location, the time of year it takes place, and just how hard the race proves to be. I’ve never raced Berkeley in the P/1/2 Category, but last year I took 6th place in the Cat 3 field, so I was confident going into the race. Lining up with the rest of the VuMedi guys, I knew we could do some damage today.We were off, and ready to take on the 90 mile day in front of us. Once the pack got onto the main road, we were rolling at a decent pace, everyone was just warming up. Early on, some attacks started to go, and this caused the pack to speed up, as they weren’t letting anything go just yet. After a flurry of attacks, finally a break got away including teammate Keith Wong, a Marc-Pro rider, and a Mike’s Bike’s rider. I started to move up a little bit, realizing that we were still on lap 1 of 5, so just to conserve energy and sip-away on my Hammer Heed and keep hydrated.
The 2nd lap rolls around, my legs are open, and I’m constantly working on moving up through the field to get more near the front of the peloton in case more attacks go. I was riding behind Justin Rossi from Marc-Pro, and there was an attack from the front, so he followed and I followed on his wheel. The moment I stood up on my bike, my Bura SL frame reacted promptly and gave me that acceleration I needed in order to react to this type of attack. Once we got the gap, there was 4 of us: Myself, Justin Rossi, Craig Fellers from Mike’s Bike’s, and Roger Arnell from Pinnacle. Everyone but Roger had a teammate in the break already. We were all working together, not too sure how far the break up the road was, just that it was out of sight. Eventually, after about a lap, maybe 2 laps, we caught the initial break and it was now the 7 of us. 2 teammates from the 3 teams, and the racer from Pinnacle.
At first, the 7 of us were working together pretty well, I needed to skip a pull or two in order to recover, but not too much later, attacks started flying from Marc-Pro. Justin would attack, we would pull him back, then Chris would go. The series of attacks eventually dislodged myself and a Mike’s Bike’s rider. As it became the 2 of us, it was apparent that he wasn’t going to work with me, as whenever I would pull off, he would just attack me, and I would try to chase back on. So, after that happened a few times, I decided to stay in the front and pull, so that I wouldn’t have to react to his attacking.
The pack was still pretty far behind, and a moto had told us that a break of 2 were bridging up; once they caught, I realized that the break was Roman Kilun, and Max Jenkins. Roman and Max rolled through with some momentum, and we had caught on, and I was just doing my hardest to hang onto their pace. I hung onto them for a bit, and when we were on the last lap, I popped and fell off their pace.My only goal now was just to get to the finish still in front of the pack, and salvage whatever place I could get. I took a bite from my Oatmeal Apple Hammer Bar, a sip of some water, and a sip of my other bottle that had my Heed on it, put my head down, and gave the last lap everything I had.
A few more riders had jumped across the gap, and I went down a few more places, but I managed 13th place in the end, after being in my first p/1/2 breakaway ever, and managing my first top 15 in the new category was thrilling!!
Keith went on to grab 4th place, staying with the lead group, showing them what he was made of! Great job to all the guys from VuMedi today, defending the break, and giving it our all!!