Naveen (Freewheel-BRITEsport) and I rolled out to Novato to brave another combined Cat 2/3 field. I didn’t know anything about the course, but I wanted a good workout so I was ready to sit in and follow the moves. Naveen’s coach was racing with us along with a handful of buddies from other teams from around the Bay Area. Team Mike’s Bikes, Red Peloton, and Squadra SF all had a strong presence at the start.
We started off at a decent pace and nothing happened for the first few laps as people figured out how to turn left and what to do with the slight hill on the backside. Before the race Naveen’s coach mentioned that he’s never seen the 2/3 field won in a break. This comforted me as I’d much rather contest a sprint, but I knew that there would be attempts. The hill wasn’t substantial enough to blow anybody up so the effort would have to be high and sustained to really get a gap on a pack of 40. The downhill to the line and long straight away would help any chase catch on. The first few attempts came from single riders. No teams made an organized move. I was rotating in and out of the top 15 wheels just holding on to my position and avoiding getting pushed into the dirt on the backside (I saw a few CX moves out there as people got nervous near the edge of the pavement…Naveen even did a little berm shred to drop back in to the pack at one point. Good save dude!). We kept on pushing and the minutes ticked away. No break stuck.
Lap cards started showing at five to go and I could see people tiring out around me. I kept calm and started to watch the Team Mike’s Bikes riders. They were a little strung out, but started to come together about five wheels back from the front. I stuck with their moves and sat in. With two to go the pace lifted a touch and I was in third wheel, staying out of the wind and checking around me for attacks. With 1 to go Team Mike’s Bikes hit the gas and I hung on the back of their train. On the backside of the course Red Peloton started to creep up. It looked like this was going to be a battle of the lead out trains and I was stuck right inbetween. Team Mike’s Bikes attacked right after the hill on the backside and I didn’t have enough to hold on. I got stuck in the Red Peloton chase and hit the final left mid bunch. Someone in front of me pedal struck, but stayed up. As the sprint unfolded I heard a huge crash behind me but kept pushing. The field spread way out and the top bunch hit the line pretty close together, with Team Mike’s Bikes up front. I placed 15th overall, 7th in Cat 3.