Nate Freed (Clif Bar), Dustin Hahn (Godspeed Couriers) and Andy Scott and I headed down to Roseville on Friday night for another weekend of racing at Winters Road Race and Vacaville Gran Prix. Andy and I rolled off the line of the Pro 1/2 field start at about 8:10 (typical Velopromo late start). It was Andy’s first P12 race. The temps were down around 50 and the winds were 15mph. The course was a 24 mile loop with mostly flat terrain with one stair step climb of about 700′ per lap followed by a fast, technical descent. I’m quickly learning that positioning is almost as important as strength in the P12 field.
As we rolled up to the first climb I was about mid pack. Jesse Moore (Cal-Giant), Max Jenkins (United Health Care), Phil Mooney (Yahoo), Paul Mach (Bissell) and a couple other strong riders attacked and got a sizable gap. I could do nothing but watch them pull away. With the roads narrow and the centerline being strictly enforced, there was no way to move up in the pack.
After the climb and descent, there was a chase group that rolled off the front with about 10-15 guys and about a 30 second gap. I immediately realized that I was not in a good spot, so I attacked trying to gap up to the chase group. I dangled about midway between the two groups for a few minutes before surrendering back to the main group. Once there, I quickly regained my breath and went to the front and began taking hard pulls along with Andy to try and pull back the chase group.
At about 5 miles into the second lap we caught the chase group, and I was worked. I had about 10 dudes tell me “nice work” as they rolled by with fresh legs, and all I could think was where the hell where you. The second lap was uneventful as Team Yahoo played their typical blocking game so we would not bring back the breakaway.
By the third lap the break had about 4 minutes on the field and the race was decided. As the pack soft pedaled I began getting bored. Mike Taylor and I decided to attack and make things interesting. We got a good gap with 4 Yahoos. I was pushing way too hard again and as we rolled through the feed zone on the climb I blew up. Back to the main group and off the back. Everything came back together after I chased back on with Nate. That is when Andy, who raced way smarter than I, rolled by and said he had a flat in the front and was out. Bummer man, but nice work.
The goal now was to survive to the finish and try to sprint. I have a lot to learn about pack sprinting. I was attempting to follow Mike Taylor’s wheel, but got pushed around a bit by Team Yahoo guys and ended up 21st. Another race down and much more lessons learned. That hurt!!!