Teamates were Nick, Frank, Seth, and Tony.
This course was very fun… rolling, and with one climb early in the lap. Basically that climb leads to a false flat, where you then climb a small amount again, then cruise downhill for awhile and sort of roll up a hill through the finish. It took me several laps to really understand how to conserve my energy on the hill, but eventually I just shifted down to a light gear and spun fast. There were very few break attempts on this race because of that initial hill, and for the most part we were all together.
With about 4 to go I moved up from like 30th to 5th on the outside of the race, and fought to hold decent position the rest of the way. I figured that the only really good place to break apart the field on the last lap was going to be on the initial climb on the outside. It was doable on the secondary climb, and probably easier to go for the win, but since I only needed a point, I decided on the final lap that I was just going to go early and take my chances. I broke on the left side and created a pretty big gap. I turned around to see if anyone had come with me and I saw two people or so, who were urging me to “gogogogog we have a gap”. So I said F it, if they want to pass me in the end I don’t care and just tore my legs apart on the final .7 miles , dragging them up the hill and downhill through the headwind, where they passed me at the finish. I turned around to see if more were close on the final small hill but there was nobody in site so I coasted in for 3rd. The final half mile was a new level in pain tolerance, and I am very glad when I experience these efforts because they prepare you mentally and physically for future races.
Anyways, this was one of my favorite races to date and I would definitely do it again. Gonna upgrade.
Because I’d been sick during the week, and not feeling 100% I decided to skip Leesville Gap and ride the Foothill College Circuit Race instead. The BBC was well represented in the E3s, with Ben, Greg T, Bernhard, Bill Q., and Zach lining up for the start – and with me chasing the pack down after I missed the start after a course marshall sent me the wrong way down the bike path.
We’d discussed a plan “A” – try to find each other and see if we could lead out one of our sprinters – Greg or Zach – and a plan “B” – if we can get more than one guy in the front few going to the line, for the best-positioned rider to sprint and those behind to sweep by half-heartedly sprinting to try to create a gap in front.
Once in the pack I worked my way up to the front 15-20 or so over the next few laps, making note of how the pack moved, where I could easily move up, where swarms tended to happen, and where the wind was coming from, and the ever important places a lazy racer like me could ease up and catch a nice tow with minimal or no pedaling. I also noticed that the bike Nat had lent me was a pretty nice crit bike – solid and predictable.
As the laps ticked down, we settled into a rhythm, Ben patrolling the front, Zach not far behind. Bill Q. and I were both lurking about 15 back. With three laps to go Bill took a flyer off the front, and held it for most of the lap. As I went by him after the pack caught him I yelled to him to take my wheel, but I think he may have been too gassed after his big effort, and he got pushed off.
I continued moving up so that with 2 to go I was close to the front near Ben and Zach. As we crossed the line on the bell lap, I hopped onto Ben’s wheel, who was sitting third wheel, with Zach a wheel or two behind me. I yelled at Ben that I was on his wheel, and he drilled it. At the bottom of the hill a rider tried to muscle me off Ben’s wheel, but elbows out I held my place.
As that rider drifted out and back Zach took my wheel. Perfect!
Ben continued drilling the pace up the hill, and as he started slowing on the false flat up top I glanced back for a second and could not see a BBC jersey behind me. I later learned that Zach had been pushed off my wheel (by the same Mr. pushy who’d moved in on me? I don’t know), and into the path of a crash that he had to avoid, slowing him down. I decided to ease up ever so slightly so as not to be first wheel since I had no one to lead out, and hopped on the wheels that came around. A small burst before the downhill put me in the first ten or so going down the hill.
Coming up to the line I opened my sprint a bit early, passing a few guys on the way. But I was indecisive picking my line at the end – as riders in front of me spread across the road and what with the small bend in the road just before the finish line. So unsure which way to go, I eased up a bit – and crossed the line 8th. Top ten – not bad. But I wish I’d been more decisive at the finish and given it a better effort.
A fun day and a fun course. A good race with a whole bunch of team mates. And it was sunny to boot. Awesome!