“Let’s have fun!” Dennis announced cheerfully as we departed Santa Cruz to race the CAT 3/4 35+ in Fort Ord.
“Right…” I hesitated, feeling uneasy due to the mental anguish sustained at Fort Ord last year when Dan Perry and Morgan Raines lit up the pace on the stair step climb on lap 4 causing me to have to finish on my own. It just gets tricky having to explain to your wife and kids watching on sidelines why daddy did not finish with all the others.
En route we discussed leading each other out if possible as we had not raced in the same field before.
Dennis has had great results at CCCX this year already, placing 1st and 2nd. He has a ton of road and track racing experience, deadly sprints and vicious surges in rolling hills. Therefore to prevent another disaster, I vowed to watch Dennis’ moves and stick to his back wheel.
Yet I did not get that chance as Dennis worked his way up to the front shortly after the start and began to taunt the peleton like a pack of caged beasts. Dennis would surge repeatedly, cut across the road and watch if anyone would follow and be willing to work with him. It was entertaining to watch him work the pavement!
I was being conservative meanwhile, trying to recover after each climb, suck wheels of others and stay out of the wind.
A group of 3 went off the front on lap 4 on the 1st bump and was gaining distance. I drilled it round the house to connect. It was a lot like the 30 second efforts we do on Highway 1. I connected but hurt badly. The main group splintered some but we all regrouped shortly. The 3 riders started to make distance on the stair steps again. Two would succeed and go on to win; the third was absorbed by our group.
The fight for 3rd place continued as we approached the final bend. I tried to regain composure and take some big gulps of air. I thought of our sprint drills again and wanted to wind up the sprint slowly because the finish cones are up an incline and quite a distance from the bend. I also searched for Dennis to work with, but Dennis appeared to be hopelessly boxed in. There was no good wheel to grab and so I just went ape shit to the line.
Result: 9th overall (2nd in cat 4) while Dennis was 17th.