The goal for this season, first and foremost, has always been to get up to Category 2 (and hopefully beyond!) to race with our elite squad and with the big boys. I’m stoked to say, after the past few weeks in Category 3, I’ve made it. Between San Dimas, Turlock, and Sea Otter, I’ve gotten some great experience and most importantly, I’ve gotten a few wins under my belt before they become ridiculously hard to come by.
The Sea Otter Circuit was definitely the most fun/ best win of them all. During the E3 Criterium the day before, I had missed the break and missed my chance for a win, so I was looking to vent some serious frustration come Circuit Time. Plus, the Sea Otter Circuit on Laguna Seca Raceway is easily the best course I’ve ridden on – it has a sweet/steep climb, a super fast corkscrew descent, and perfect pavement. Can’t ask for much better than that!
At any rate, the E3 Circuit Race started at a modest pace. Unfortunately, there weren’t any teams in the group to take control, and nobody seemed too willing to pull, so I did my best to make the course a bit harder by pacing up the climb (I’m no sprinter, so I hoped to get them out ASAP). In hindsight, this was a pretty stupid gameplan… and thankfully I came to my senses after pacing 3 early climbs.
So after 45 minutes or so of the 90 minute race (mostly sitting-in at this point), and after a few attacks had been brought back, I couldn’t stay patient anymore and jumped at the base of the circuit climb. One Audi Cycling rider came with me, and between the two of us, we managed to sustain a 10-15 second gap – a good start, but we were far from clear and Mr. Audi was looking mighty tired after lap 2 off the front. Thankfully, looking back, our big effort had done some damage to everyone else, and the “peloton” had turned into a 5-man chase group. Awesome! So, to avoid getting caught by the chase, I decided to leave the Audi Cycling rider on the next climb and try it alone. 1 vs. 5 sounded a lot better than 1 vs. the field, and in the worst case scenario (in my mind at least) – I can’t stay away and then jump onto the chase group to reload for another attack.
From that point onward was just a blur; I found a rhythm for each lap around the course (hard up the climb, recover on the decent, and find a sweet spot for the flats, repeat). And each time around, the split grew, and I started to feel more confident! By the bell lap, I had a good minute to work with, and I finished back under the Sea Otter Bridge with some panache (pun intended)! Now its officially time to start bearing down for the pro/1/2… Hopefully I can make a solid contribution in our battle with CalGiant and Yahoo!