Stage 1: 94 miles road race. Course description: rolling hills and wind the first 87 miles with a category 1 climb the final seven miles. I was pleased with the how the first 87 miles went.
Things got started out early today at 9 am. After three rear flats during the 30 minutes before the race started, I had unfortunately used up a full week’s worth of curse words. The next week is going to be tough, as I do enjoy swearing quite frequently, especially at inanimate objects like tires and tubes. I guess I’ll just have to practice my Church manners for a while.
Anywho, I got a neutral wheel, I talked to some other racers before the race started, the race started, there was a neutral section, and then all of a sudden it was ON! And by ON! I mean it started to go a bit faster, but not that much. Then I attacked on a small riser and got my nose in the wind off the front for a few minutes by myself and I realized it WAS faster, but only if you were at the front though. Sitting on, especially in those first 20 miles, was pretty easy since it was mainly down hill. I stayed close to the front, or made an effort to, for a long time though following moves and occasionally initiating them. But everyone wanted a piece of glory today before the inevitable mass-slaughter on the final climb, where only one man knew that he could and would win, and everyone knew this too. So the break was the way to go for a spot in the limelight.
My bike computer wasn’t working due to the loose magnet on the wheel spoke being flipped around backwards, so I had no idea when any of the sprint points were coming up. It was my goal to win a few sprint points today and spend some time off the front. Sadly, I missed the first sprint point at 20 miles into the race because my computer was reading 10.6 miles. It had seemed like a pretty long 10.6 miles to me, but I’m not that great at judging time.
I found myself off the front alone in the headwind shortly before the feed zone loops were about to begin. I sat up when I saw the pack quickly closing the gap to me. Things splintered a bit heading into that first time up the short feed zone hill and continued to break up and reform during the short, hilly lap until we came back onto the highway again. From there I went straight to the front and got away with about eight guys. It looked good for a short while, but of course not everyone was pulling in it and the pack caught on to the back of us. A few of us continued to rotate through, then attacked again a couple times, but it was all in vain.
One more time through the feed zone and short lap and a breakaway finally did get away, but only for 20 minutes or so. It was reeled back in as we entered the long head/crosswind section. I was at home here, drilling it at the front over and over again in short-lived moves. I unknowingly took the final pull coming into the second sprint points line with Roman Van Uden of Pure Black on my wheel. It had just been the two of us off the front with a bit of a gap to the chasers and if I had a working computer and known the sprint was coming up I would have gone for it with 400 meters to go when Roman was still pulling since he’s a much better sprinter than me. But I didn’t even know what was going on until it was too late. I failed to even sprint for 2nd or 3rd since I didn’t know what the hell was going on, so the field just barely nipped me for those last two spots. I regretted this even more after the race when I realized I could have been in the sprint points jersey that night if I had managed to beat Roman. Oh well, next time I won’t have the excuse of not knowing how far into the race we are since I duct-taped my computer magnet onto my spoke. No more sliding around.
Breaks kept going and coming back for a long time. The race eventually splintered into three groups as the crosswinds shredded things leading into the large rollers before the final climb began. I was sitting pretty comfortably in the first group since I had moved up and positioned myself well coming into this section. Things came back together eventually, but I was off the front by myself before they did. I had gotten away on a short decent, or climb, I can’t remember now. Anyways, I’d been following moves and just got off pretty easily for once. I sat up when, after five minutes no one even attempted to bridge. I didn’t sit up completely though, just kept the gap the same. Finally a Garmin rider, Kirk, came up to me and we hit it hard. At least it felt hard. He did more pulling than me since I was pretty beat at that point. We kept hammering up the rollers and into the headwind though and built a gap of 1:40. I’m not sure how long we were off, maybe 30 minutes, which was easily one of the longest lasting breaks of the day. It was a pure suicide move though, as we knew it would screw us for the final climb.
And it did. We were caught with 7 miles to go, right at the base of the climb and I was very quickly off the back. I spent the next 30 minutes grinding away in my 25-tooth cassette, wishing for a 28 or 30 and came in 108th at 10:36 down from Mancebo’s winning time.
Chris Parish crushed it with a 14th place, followed by Lang at 31st and Dan at 70th after chasing back on after a flat for 10K.
This was the most aggressive I’ve ever been in an NRC race and I was pretty happy with how many times I laid the hammer down.