Copperopolis Road Race
Williams Team: Timmy Bauer, Matt Tufts, Kevin Tufts, Josh Carling
Copperopolis is my favorite road
race of the year. The race starts outside the small town of Milton, California. Copperopolis road race is known for the worst
roads & the hardest climbs and descents on the NCNCA calendar. This
year 68 of California's best climbers lined up including Andrew Talansky, a
world tour pro rider for Cannondale Drapac. For those of you that done live and
breathe cycling, a quick background on Andrew. He has raced 8 Grand Tours
Finished in the Top 10 at the Tour De France (2013) & last year was 5th
overall in the Vuelta a Espana. He is one of the best if not the best USA grand
tour rider today. Put Andrew in our
field and 6+ of California's best P1/2 teams with 7 to 8 guys all working for
their leader it was going to be Gnarly.
It was a brisk morning temps around
37 degrees when Josh & I arrived with our support team (my wife and daughter).
We got kitted up and were ready to go! Josh & I pre-rode the course the
week before. This course is so brutal
that pre-riding is a big advantage. This year the county decided to patch some
holes with some nasty, horrible, chip and seal patches. This left the whole
course covered in little Pea size pebbles. These pebbles, when racing with 68
other guys, turned into little BB’s hitting you all over your body & face.
Not only were there rocks flying everywhere but the patches were rougher than the
holes. Plain and simple, the roads are horrible. The race include 5 laps totaling 108 miles
and just over 9,000 ft of climbing. Copperopolis is one of the hardest road
races in the country.
The race started off fast. We hit
the feed zone at mile 2. The feed zone is
a short climb that leads into a larger 3.2 mile climb. I had Josh & the Tuffs brothers around
me as we entered the feed zone. I moved up a bit to avoid so much roost and
got right on Talansky’s rear wheel. After the feed climb we started the main climb.
Right away, Talansky was to the front driving the pace. We were flying and around
half way up the climb, the peloton was already dropping riders. I rode smart & stayed seated to insure
energy savings. The pace dropped a bit after the climb and Josh was able to get
back up to me. He let me know that after the Tufts brothers had been popped off
the back and that the race was blowing up after only seven miles of
racing. It was obvious that Talansky’s
goal was to ride the pack into the ground and thin out the race. Josh and I rode
smart, saved energy when we could and stayed together as a team. We reached the main descent after another short
difficult climb. The rocks were flying up
in our faces. I had a big rock hit me on the tooth. I was so glad to roll off
the front with Josh at that point. We
were not attacking, just trying to get away from the flying rocks.
Lap two was fast on the main
climb. I felt real good, and rode in the top 15 spots saving as much energy as
possible. A solo rider from Marc Pro
attacked on the big climb. That rider
dangled off the front as we crested the main climb. Luckily the pace dropped a bit in the cross
wind section by the lake. Josh came up
to me and made sure I was feeling good. We
reached the smaller climb before the main descent when Talansky attacked. I was
right behind him and able to follow him. This shook the group up majorly and
dropped quite a few riders including Josh. I was on my own from there with 3 full laps to
go. I got a bottle in the feed zone and ate some more before ascending the main
climb for the 3rd time. I again was strong and feeling good. Towards the top, got in a bit of a bumping
match with a fellow rider but nothing to crazy. I was finding that I was riding
behind or next to Talansky a lot which told me my positioning was good. The
main group was down to maybe 20 riders at this point. They were the best 20 climbers in the race,
and I was still there!
The pace was a bit slower this
lap. Starting the main descent, I was
in the top 5 and moved forward a bit to avoid the roost and rocks. I led the decent in my aero tuck and was able
to pick my own line and save energy by staying aerodynamic. Talansky decided to
follow and were together down the whole descent. It was awesome, so cool! At the bottom of the descent, he mentioned he
liked my gloves I told him about how my daughter made them for me. We discussed a few other things over next few
miles. Coming to the feed zone on lap 4,
there were 15 of us with 3 riders up the road as two attacked right before the
feed zone. I got a bottle and put my head down on the climb. I was starting to
hurt badly but was determined to stay in this select front group of 10 to 15
riders. By the top I was so gassed but I was still there!
We hit the cross winds at the top and
the remaining riders started throwing hey maker attacks at each other. I was stuck on the back totally guttered with
no draft at all. I lost contact with what
was left of the main field at 20 miles to go. I was so close!!!! I continued to
push on solo with one lap to go. The
Tufts brothers were there cheering me on as I was still top 20 overall. I
reached the feed zone, grabbed a bottle and kept pushing. At this point every part of my body was hurting
I could not stand on the pedals as it was seated riding from here on out. I was exhausted but made it to the top of the
climb where I saw a rider in the distance. I kept pushing and reached him at
the last climb of the day. I dropped
him on the decent as I knew we were battling for top 20 in the race.
I reached the finish line after 5
hours 22 minutes and 45 seconds burning close to 6,000 calories, and was
covered head to toe in asphalt chucks and dirt (see picture). I finished my
first ever Pro 1/2 Copperopolis road race in 18th overall and was also the 4th
place Category 2 rider. I earned some
valuable upgrade points as well!
This race was coolest, hardest race
I have ever done. Some say against the
hardest field that has lined up here in years. To me, this is my best
performance all year. My teammates did
everything possible to help me. I am so
thankful to them. I know next year I can
be top 10 if not top five.
Thank you to all my supporters and
sponsors I can’t wait for my next race and to race this race again next year!
Thanks Timmy Bauer