Race summary for those with a short attention span (or those of you that just get too bored with my blogs):
Lap 1: Dustin Hahn, Keith Hillier and I took turns attacking our balls off but were unable to get a break to stick.
Lap 2: Bad crash in the field. The three of us stayed upright, but Dustin got stuck behind the crash and spent a long time chasing before packing it in.
Lap 3: Break finally sticks. Just as peloton makes the catch, field is stopped because of a crash in the women’s field. (Two riders had to be air-lifted.) We sat on road for 1 hour 15 minutes before starting up again…
Lap 4: Break gets away. Peloton chases. 200 meters to go, break still has a gap. Start my sprint at 200 meters, catch the break and win by a bike throw.
Complete Race Report
I had a pretty interested lead up to this race… After San Dimas Stage Race, I was hospitalized with liver inflammation. Early doctor orders were to stay off the bike and away from for a month (yikes!), but that quickly changed to, “ride when your stomach doesn’t hurt anymore.” I was on my bike the next day. Unfortunately my hospital visit left me 4 pounds lighter and feeling weak as ever. I spent the next few days doing rides that would normally be considered “recovery” but these first few felt like intervals. I was worried.
After a few days of “recovery” rides, I started to feel normal again and figured I should probably get in a race to assess my current fitness level before Sea Otter.
Dustin Hahn, Keith Hillier and I lined up for the race with the typical plan of attacking until one of us was in a break. The first lap was spent with attacks and counter-attacks, which all had Marc Pro – Strava representation. Somewhere on the second lap a break finally got away and none of us were in it. Great.
Toward the end of lap two, as I am coasting along with the front of my bib shorts down, being pushed along by Keith, two riders go down in front of us. Hard. In fear of getting road rash on my junk, I quickly tucked it in and was lucky to barely miss the pile of riders on the ground. I glanced to my right only to see Dustin headed into the dirt. Keith and I stayed upright and were able to chase back on. Dustin stayed up, but thanks to a dropped chain wasn’t able to catch the peloton. If only he had kept chasing…
Brian Buchholz (Webcor) nearly single-handedly pulled for the next lap and with some help from a few others we finally caught the break. At just about the same time, we (along with all the other fields on course) were stopped by the officials. Apparently there was a bad crash in the women’s field resulting in two of the women requiring an air-lift to get medical attention. Hopefully these two make it out alright. The rest stop came at the perfect time, as my bladder was about to explode. We got to (or had to?) wait for an hour and fifteen minutes before resuming the race. Too bad there wasn’t a bakery nearby…
Once we got started again, the attacks started coming hard. Keith and I tried our best to initiate and follow moves, but were unsuccessful in getting anything to stick. Steve Reaney (Cal Giant) and Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) got away with half a lap remaining. I was still feeling pretty good, but decided the best benefit to me would be to put in a few efforts and once again test out my post-hepatitis fitness. I went to the front to help with the chase and hopefully set up Keith for a good finish.
When we hit the back rollers, Kirk Carlsen (Garmin-Cervelo-Chipotle) bridged up to the break, making them three strong and a much bigger threat. We ramped up the chase and were starting to pull it back. With just a few miles to go, the sprinters started to move into position which naturally raised the pace of the peloton. I decided my work was down and started playing the elbow-bumping game of the field sprint. At 1 k, the break still had a sizable gap, and I didn’t think we’d be able to catch them. Then, at 250 meters, with the break barely within reach, I launched my sprint in a do-or-die effort to pass them before the line. The slight rise to the finish suited me perfectly and I was able to make the catch and win by a bike throw. Keith rolled in for 15th place (more BAR/BAT points!)
The course was fun and would be a great race to have a bigger team at. The promoter really did a good job with the start/finish area and made all of the racers feel very welcome.