Hitting the 1km marker, I was drenched with snot and drool hanging off of my face as the moto came up to me and told me to “calm down, you have 4 minutes on the pack.”
I’ve never raced this race before, but I heard that it has a good amount of climbing and I knew that’s where I could do some damage, so I had been targeting it as a race to go to and do well in. With racing Cantua Creek the day before, my legs were a little heavier than I would have liked for the beginning of the race.
On the out and back section of Pine Flat, I felt like I was dying the entire time. There were 45 starters in our race, which definitely helped me to just get sucked along the road with the back. At some points of the out and back, I was actually concerned about getting dropped on the out and back section. Thankfully, I was able to follow some good wheels to near the front, and hold my position for the downhill parts, and not expend too much energy. Early on in the race, a break of 3 (a limitless cycling junior, a tru cycling guy, and then one more rider from a team who escapes me at this moment) got up the road, and the pack wasn’t working together to bridge it.
There was a decent amount of surging for a while after the break went, with some teammates of the riders blocking, and countering other attacks to make sure that the pack wouldn’t catch up to the break. Once the out and back section ended, around 1 hour in, I started to feel so much better, and was watching the riders in the pack to see who I would have to watch for the main climb. On one of the early descents before the flat section that goes along the river, the group was pretty dangerous while descending. I was 3rd wheel going onto the downhill, when a Bicycle bob’s rider in front of me slammed on his brakes, and I was caught behind him.
As we hit the flat section, another break of 3 got off the front, and they all had teammates who were in the pack. So 3 or 4 guys would start to get a paceline together, and start to chase, then it would get disrupted by the teammates, and then there would be an attack. That pretty much went on the entire flat section. I contributed to the chase a decent amount, but the breakaway had still put a good amount of time into us. By that point in the race, most of the pack “forgot” about the 1st break away that was farther up the road, including myself who only thought there was 1 group up the road, not 2.
After the right turn from the flat section, the rollers started, and near the end of the rollers, about 15 ½ miles from the finish, an Integrity Cycling rider attacked on a steeper roller. I was near the front, and on his wheel when he launched his attack, so I followed him, thinking that I could get a free ride up to the break away. At that point, the break that was closest to the pack was about 30” in front of us. A Davis rider had already solo bridged up to them, so there was 4 riders now. I followed the Integrity Cycling rider, and when he pulled off, I looked back to the pack, and we were already about halfway to the break. I pulled at a pretty hard pace, and by the time I bridged to the break of 4, the integrity cycling rider had fallen off of my wheel, and was back in the pack. The pack had started to charge now, and I wasn’t sure if pressing the pace would be pressing my luck after the race the day before, but I decided to push on.
I went straight to the front, and set the pace which caused all the riders except for the Davis rider to fall off. I flicked my arm for him to pull, and he said he couldn’t. I looked back to see how far the pack was, and we still had a 30” gap, so I essentially said to him that he needs to work if he wants me to contribute. As soon as he went to the front, I realized that the speed wasn’t going to fly, and I told him to move left and to just hang on. After that, I didn’t look back for a good 5 minutes, it was just me and the road. The Davis rider had gotten dropped, so I thought I was in the front.
I started the main climb, and the pack was not in sight. Later, I learned that once I got out of sight, the pack put up little to no fight at all, and I was in the clear. Halfway into the main climb, I was dying, but kept pressing on, when I caught the 3 riders from the first break of the day, and they were completely broken. I passed them and they weren’t able to react whatsoever.
I hit the top of the main climb, and there was 7 miles to go. I bombed the descent, and hit the final climb, and was just giving it all I could. The last 2km of the race, I felt absolutely exhausted, and the only thing that kept me pushing on was the pure adrenaline of being off the front solo, hoping that I was far enough off to take the win.
Hitting the 1km marker, I was drenched with snot and drool hanging off of my face as the moto came up to me and told me to “calm down, you have 4 minutes on the pack.” Confused with disbelief, I re-asked him what he said, and he confirmed the first statement, and told me to clean my face up for the finish. A huge wave of relief washed over me, as I began to ease up, and get ready for the finish. I crossed the line, and practically fell off of my bike in exhaustion from the break. I had given it all, and was in a bit of disbelief. Grabbing the win two days in a row, securing myself enough points to be able to upgrade to the 2’s, have probably been the sweetest victories I’ve tasted, and what’s even better is now I can really start the season with everyone here at VuMedi!!