KaiVelo Takes The Win at The Pescadero Coastal Classic
A classic Northern California road race featuring steep climbs and fast, twisty descents through redwood forests.
The Pescadero Coastal Classic is held in the town of Pescadero. A rural area about 50 miles south of San Francisco on the foggy California coast. Known for its beautiful redwood trees, lush vegetation, and winding roads it’s an ideal place for a great bicycle racing. The course is a 27.6-mile loop featuring three steep climbs. The first two come on Stage Road between Pescadero and Highway 84 (Stage Road — Climb #1, Stage Road — Climb #2). Then it’s 12 km gradually uphill on Highway 84 where the course turns right and heads towards the finish climb on Haskins Hill. All the descents are fast and full of twists and turns.
Hosted by AltoVelo cycling club, this race is one of the more difficult ones to put on. It requires a significant number of volunteers to marshal all the blind turns, vehicle crossings, the feed zone, and a clothing drop. Without the support of all volunteers, this race would not happen. Thank you.
Here is Lucas’ account of the race.
KaiVelo showed up with three racers Lucas, Bill, and Gregory. Who raced in the combined Men’s Masters 35+ and 45+ Cat. 1/2/3 fields. The race started off up stage road and the pace slowly picked up. The combined field was big. All of the major teams were represented including Peet’s Coffee, Mike’s Bikes, Dolce Vita, SunPower, StudioVelo, Thirsty Bear, and a few others. The field was about 45 racers strong.
After a short neutral promenade, the race was on. The first segment on stage road has two sharp climbs with a twisty descent. The peloton went up the climb at a brisk pace and before we knew it we were on Highway 84 heading east. At that moment the first break went off the front, a solo move by a Thirsty Bear rider, a team with a big showing at the race.
I considered chasing but decided to wait. No one went with him, so he was off the front all alone. It was an ill-fated attempt. And the peloton caught him on the way up Haskins Hill.
Then we hit Haskins Hill extremely hard. The field split and I was in the second group. We went up the climb in seven minutes, a super fast time. People were tired from that effort and two groups merged back together.
The group, tired from that effort, rolled at a reasonable pace down the descent. And another Thirsty Bear rider from the 35+ field went off the front. The field let him go. Shortly thereafter I chatted with Rob Britt about bridging up, I said I didn’t think it was the right move. Five minutes later Rob went and the field let him go as well.
At this point, there was one 45+ rider and one 35+ rider up the road. As we went through the clothing drop off point, the main peloton slowed a bit. And I decided to seize the moment and attack hard. Hoping someone would go with me.
I found myself up the road alone. There was no response from the field. Instead of soft-pedaling, I committed to bridging to Rob. He saw me coming and slowed so I could join him. We worked together on stage road and soon we could see the Thirsty Bear rider 500 meters ahead. We bridged up to him on the beginning of the final climb on stage road. Now we had established a break of three riders.
A few minutes later, we looked back and saw just one rider bridging up and it was Todd Markelz the current hill climb national champion. He caught us easily and now we had four strong riders all willing to work together. We proceeded to paceline, rotating smooth and steady as we got on Highway 84. We worked well and establish a minute lead over the peloton. When we hit Haskins Hill the second time, we needed to keep the pace up. Todd led us up the climb and we all held on as best we could.
At this point, there was only one lap to go. We had no idea what the time gap was but assumed we had lost time on the climb, it was maybe 30 seconds? The peloton must have gained on us over the climb.
We got back into a smooth and steady rotation each taking short 30-second pulls. When we hit stage road Todd was clearly the stronger rider on the climb and could have dropped us. But realizing he needed the help on the flat section he waited. We regrouped on Highway 84 heading east and resumed the paceline rotation.
At this point, I realized I had a chance to win. With two 35+ and two 45+ riders in this group only had to beat Rob Britt the other 45+ rider for the win. However, in order for this to work, we needed to keep ahead of the peloton. We only had a small one minute gap. We held our lead over the peloton and made it to the final climb as a group. Now I knew I just had eight minutes of suffering until the finish.
The beginning of the climb was painful and I felt twinges of cramps. But I had consumed some electrolyte capsules a few minutes earlier and that seemed to help. As we wet up the hill Todd Markelz showed us that he was the superior climber. The three of us looked at each other, none of us could chase him. But I was happy to let him go because he was in the 35+ field. I was still worried that the chasing field with Kevin Metcalf was about to catch us and crush us all. With 1K to go on the climb, I noticed that Rob Britt was starting to fade. Now motivated to seize the first place slot, I proceeded to ride as hard as I could. I was only able to manage 300 watts but it was enough to separate myself from Rob. It was only at that moment I knew I could win this race and I couldn’t quite believe it.
With 300 meters to go, I put my head down and rode as hard as I could. I rolled across the finish line with hands up screaming, yes! I had won the fucking race. I saw Todd Markelz at the top we shook hands. We both rode back to the staging area to stand on the top step of the podium.
My prizes? A bag that’s full of goodies, a bottle of wine, a winner’s jersey, and a check for $70. But the real prize of the day was bringing our team, KaiVelo a big win!