A bicycle race named The Bite Hard Boonville Road Race will take place on Saturday, July 14th. The racers will leave the Boonville Fairgrounds in groups of 75 or less, starting at 7:30 in the morning. The race begins when they turn onto Mountain View road at the West end of Boonville. When they reach the coast they will turn right on Highway 1 and proceed to the Greenwood road at Elk. They will take the Greenwood Road to Highway 128 and continue back to Boonville where they will climb back up Mountain View Road to the finish line at Faulkner Park. After the race there will be an awards ceremony at 3:30pm at The Boonville Hotel.
“Bite Hard Cider is the title sponsor of the event,” said event coordinator Jeff Malnick. “The title sponsorship goes to the entity that basically pays us to put the event on. We named the race "The Bite Hard Boonville Road Race," but we have a lot of sponsors: Philo Ridge Vineyards, Roederer Estates (providing our trophies!), the General Store, Calfee Designs, Above Category Cycling, Jah Med Medical Support, Cycked, Mendo Coast Cyclists, Osmo Nutrition, Anti Gravity Cycling and others. You can see all our sponsors on our website www.bitehardboonvilleroadrace.com,” he said.
“We are unsure of how many racers we will have in this inaugural year,” said Malnick. “Northern California is a bit of a cycling mecca, and we are expecting between 200 and 500 participants, but you never know. It's all based on other calendar events. In close proximity to us is the Cascade Classic, which is a big Oregon Stage Race. But we are hoping racers use this event the weekend before as a ‘tune up’ for the CCSR. Pre-registration doesn't really occur until about two weeks before the event and even still the professional men and women don't usually register until day of,” he added. “We are expecting some top amateur and professional teams such as Marc-Pro Strava, Wonderful Pistachios, Giant-Berry, Metro Mint as well as many others. Not sure if we'll get big name turn out yet, we'll know that on race day.”
“The race is split up into ten separately scored fields based on ability per USA Cycling guidelines,” said Malnick. “In the US we have a category system that one must move through to compete at higher levels. Beginning at level 5 for the men and 4 for women you move up to category 1 by placing and or winning events. Once you reach category 1 you can race professionally.”
All of the fields are racing the 67-mile course described above except the Professional, Category 1, and Category 2 men who are racing a slightly longer 80 mile route. They diverge at the intersection of Philo-Greenwood road and Cameron road. Here, when everyone else goes straight on Greenwood Ridge, they will turn left onto Cameron road and go back down to the coast for a trip up Highway 128 through the redwoods. All of the racers are doing around 7,500 feet of climbing,
“We are sort of using the P1,2 race as a test to see how putting a race on Highway 128 goes,” said Malnick. “It's better to test with a knowledgeable field more adept at dealing with traffic than a full blown event. In the future we'd like to hold the race there again if all works out well.” Teamwork
Asked to describe how teams operate in bicycle racing Malnick said, “Teams support one person. They usually "protect" one rider who is good at doing what the geography of the stage or race (in this case race) has in store. In this case, expect a top climber on each team to be protected, as the finish is uphill. Their team will ride around that rider and attempt to get into any break aways - where a rider pulls from the pack and tries to put distance between them and the peloton, gaining a time advantage and potentially winning the stage or the race.”
“There will be one point on the course that is crucial, and this will most likely be the climb up Philo-Greenwood from Highway 1. That is where the fields will separate most. Yes, Mountain View has a ton of climbing but it's super early in a long race and there is 15 miles of headwind on highway 1 that will neutralize any skinny mountain goat-type climbers. Usually good climbers can't stay away from the big guys on flat land, especially with a head wind where high power is king over power to weight ratio alone.”
“Teams will most likely protect their climber until Greenwood, then the field will shatter on that 20 minute climb, team members who were doing work to either bring in back breaks, or just shelter their rider by riding in front of them on Mountain View and Highway 1. Called drafting, this enables the person behind to be 30-40% more efficient by blocking the wind,” he said. “They will have done their job and will probably soft pedal the remainder of the race.”
“The ʻreal raceʼ will be the top ten riders, which will surface on that climb,” said Malnick. “This of course is all speculation, but from my racing experience it seems likely. There is also a good chance that it'll come back together on the tail wind section up Highway 128 as skinny and powerful rider alike have similar advantage in tailwind conditions. We shall see.”
Asked about the logistics supporting the race Malnick said, “Ha, there's a lot of logistics going on. There will be one follow-up car for each field with amateur radios for communication. Medical staff from Jah Med working with communication to support downed or injured riders; net control at the finish coordinating all of it. We will have 1 to 2 follow cars with neutral wheel support in case of flats, communications plus 1 to 2 motorcycle referees which will neutralize the race in the face of danger on course and watch for centerline rule violations (racers are NOT allowed to cross the centerline, this is grounds for dismissal).”
“In our first year we could not afford to hire the CHP,” Malnick said. “This is usually the case at grassroots racing and is the status quo. For much larger events such as big stage races you'll see the "rolling enclosure" which is where the CHP blocks traffic as the race moves down the road. CHP is about $75 an hour per officer, and they start charging when they leave their house. If we can break even this year we are going to consider a stage race format (multi day event) next year. My vision is to have a big stage race with big stages, awesome climbs and rad roads here in Mendocino next year. Mendocino pretty much embodies all that, and stage races make enough money to where you can afford the CHP.”