Conrad, Glenn, and I started the 35+ race, about 3 minutes after Justin rolled off the line in the Pro 1-2 field. We would race the same up-down circuit, though with about 6 fewer laps. We discussed strategy before the race: get one or two of us up the road in a break about half-way through. I personally was eager to trade an even tempo of the break for the violent short efforts up the climb. Glenn wasted no time and drilled it up the hill on the second lap, waking up everyone’s legs. Morgan Stanley continued what Glenn had started, and shattered what seemed like half the field by the 3rd lap. Glenn and Bill were unfortunate casualties of this early intensity.
Thinking that the best defense was a good offense, I rolled off the front on the following lap so that I could ride my own tempo up the climb, hoping some others would come across. None did, and I was reabsorbed by the top. The pattern was becoming clear: agony for about a mile on the hill, then easy elsewhere on the course. Conrad and I chatted, and planned to drill it at the hardest part of the climb and initiate a break. Fortunately, Phipps and a teammate had the same idea. Unfortunately, they were quite a bit stronger than us …and I transitioned rapidly from hammer to nail. Unable to respond, we watched Phipps, the teammate and two guys go up the road. The timing was unfortunate as it looked like this break caught the Pro 1-2 field and presumably got a brief respite (at a critical time). Our chase group of about 10 lacked the muster to pull back the break. We watched as the pro field drilled it – our race for the podium was over. Our group spent the next 8 laps repeating the hard-easy pattern, catching dropped riders from the P-1-2 race ahead and lapping some 35+ riders. A Safeway rider from the group up the road dropped back, leaving our chase group competing for 4th.
Conrad and I discussed initiating a break with 3 laps to go but weren’t sure what was left in the tank. We decided to sit in and have Conrad attempt the sprint. The last lap was ridiculously slow as our small group conserved energy, preparing for the drag race up the finishing stretch. The pace got so pathetic that I made a snap decision to jump away on the descent – hoping that I’d have the legs to hold off the group …and potentially entice some others to chase. It didn’t work, and I was reabsorbed by the group well in advance of the line. Conrad had a nice sprint to take 2nd in our group, 5th overall. I was not seeing straight, but think I held on to beat at least one guy in the chase, which would put me 10th– 12th or so. Overall a very fun day with great representation by CWC through the morning!