Cantua Creek 2-13-2010 Masters 35+ 1, 2, 3
This was my season opener race to gauge fitness. I’m about 4lbs lighter, feel overall stronger and riding a 3lb. lighter bike with super fast wheels. The week leading into the race all indicators of my ability to perform are good? I noted 4 teams with 4 or more riders one of which was Helen’s from So. Cal with 6 guys that looked serious. I lined up in the front for the start with 2 of the Helens guys (who by the way were friendly.) The course starts with a ¼ mile neutral to the start/finish line where it then descends. The course is out and back finishing on a 5 min. step up roller climb. Otherwise, the rest of the course was flat. I attacked when we rolled across the start line down the hill just to get it going, not to break away. Like last year it was attack and counter attack from the gun. All were covered by guess who? Helen’s, until just over a ¼ way through the race. Ninety minutes to the finish they got 2 riders off the front. I watched and decided with all the teams and a long way to go we will bring them back. We kept the pace up and Helen’s would send 2-3 guys to the front and create a wall to slow it down. They would also create gaps in the middle of the pack as well. When passing other races they would slow it down to create confusion. Same thing at the turn arounds. All this going on and we still held a strong pace, never letting them get too far up the road. The guys up the road where strong and committed, they knew their team was doing a good job behind. It was a sight to see! Helen’s guys would go to the front to block, then get over taken and then you would see a guy sprint up the side of pack to take up the front and block. They spent a huge amount of energy to hold us back and never showed any signs of weakness. Breaks would jump ahead to overpower the blocking. I would go with breaks that I thought might bridge across, doing my share when it looked possible to get away. No chase group formed, but we kept reeling them in little by little. On the first lap just before the climb to the finish/turnaround one guy attacked to try and bridge. Once we hit the climb I attacked as well and bridged up to him. We closed half the gap but not enough to make the connection. It forced the pack to hammer it out to catch us by the turn. The climb was 5 mins. 2-4% grades in a rolling step up fashion. I felt strong on the climb and it didn’t seem to take much out of me? This is now the end of the first lap. Nothing to report on the out and back flats accept lots of attacks/blocking/counter attacks until the final climb to finish the race. Well…..I would like to say racing with guys who seem to all have 10+ years of experience is AWSOME. You can’t get away with lame riding, you can’t out power move them, they race very safe as no one is interested in crashing and they don’t take stupid risks. Handling skills are good. Riding very close and tight under pressure is comfortable. You can bump someone to keep them in check and it doesn’t faze them. OK – 10 mins. to the final climb and the pace increases and is noticeably faster. I start to make my move from 15 back to 5 back by catching a ride from a passerby (that’s someone moving up the side catching his draft). By the way, so are a lot of other people. You have to be alert and ready to keep moving forward. As we make the right turn into the final climb I take note of the wind (very light wind coming from my right side) I look up the road and those two cats are close. But if I/we let their team move forward and block one more time and they don’t let up, the chance for a win is over. I can’t take it!!! I’m not going to settle for 3rd at best…..I attacked with 90% effort to get it going, pulled up and over the first climb and into the 2nd asking with an elbow for others to come around. No thanks is the response. As I expected... no dice. Then I let up slightly to force them around. My buddy from down south attacks to help me and it works to force them to respond. I drop back to 3rd wheel. We come to a roller (I thought over the roller was about 500 meters up and around to the line) and I attacked. This time with 100% but soon realized it was WAY far from finish (over 1km?) and I quickly backed off to 4th wheel. A moment of doubt came and went (mean while those cats kept getting closer). Once we came to the place where I could see the 200 meter sign (300 meters to go from my position) I decided it was all or nothing~~~~~Now or never if I wanted a chance at the win. I wasn’t interested in 3rd. I jumped. This was my 3rd attack on the final climb. I stayed right so if anyone was going to pass it had to be on my left. I knew I was going to bring riders with me but hoping I would have the juice to keep them at bay. At the 200 meter sign I looked under my left arm and yep, I see a rider tight on my wheel. The road pitches up a bit and I hit it harder and harder. I'm closing the gap on the two cats who are digging deep to make it to the line. I can smell their soggy shorts and see veins bulging from their muscular calves so close. Here comes the guy on my left. I move slightly to his side with an attempt to shake his momentum and another guy shoots past on the right (shizzle). Left guy and I are now head to head 50 meters or less to the line. I start to fade. He too, but we both kick one more time and he gets the edge on me. Then here comes another guy I throw my arms forward to the line and hold him off by an inch or two for a well earned 5th place. First place was 3 bike lengths ahead. What a battle to the line! I rode super aggressive on the climbs with multiple attacks never feeling like I was softening up and in total control of my efforts. I’m very satisfied with the outcome of this race and how I performed.