Today's climb was one roadies in the area know quite well: Patterson Pass. Only 4.4 miles, with a sweet rolling start for the first 1.5 miles, a gentle 6.6% for the following mile, and then the fun part: a 12% section, followed by rollers and an 11% grand finale (known as the OMG climb). Now, usually this course has tremendous wind blowing in the wrong direction, while today we were blessed with some nice tailwind.
Boxer Mike Tyson famously said: "Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth". Well, today Bike Trip contradicted good ole Mike… Nils, Mark and I had an intense exchange of emails about strategy prior to the race, which ended with the following email from Mark (I'm quoting verbatim): "The forecast is for a slight tailwind @ 10:00 AM. ATTACK!".
And attack it was, from the gun: as soon as I had moved my eyes from the pedals that as usual wouldn't clip in (yes, I'm definitely still a rookie!), Nils was already 50m down the road cruising at a solid attack pace. Folks in our group were hesitating, and I jumped on Nils wheel, and we started working together, putting on a pretty good pace. We kept leading the bunch well into the beginning of the climb, taking turns pulling, but eventually Carl Nielson took the lead. I, frankly, was quite relieved. Mark, who knows Carl quite well, had informed me that Carl didn't mind setting the pace in the front, and I was happy to let him do that.
Drafting was a relatively minor effect, as the wind was from the back and the climb quickly gets in the >7%, but it was nice to just cruise along. I didn't really checked on the folks in the back, focusing mostly on Carl's wheel and on saving energy. I felt quite good through the first 12% climb, and Carl didn't really attack, but rather maintained a steady power output (which somewhat reminded me of following Mark's wheel on the Saturday repeats).
At the beginning of the OGM 11% ramp Dave Collet (#2 in the general classification) attacked very decisively. There was evidently no way I was going to let him go, and I jumped on his wheel and passed Carl. Dave pushed for a bit, but then we all regrouped. I felt well, and I knew exactly where the end of the incline was, so I decided to go and give everything I had. Which I did. I was quite happy to notice that the shadows of Carl and Dave were not glued to my wheel, and cruised to the finish line for the win.
|Yours truly in the final attack, gasping for air ahead of Carl Nielson, Bill Laddish and Dave Collet|
I am truly grateful for Nils and his great work at the beginning of the race and of the climb, and to Mark Edwards for his tactical insight. I felt like this was a well-planned effort, and a plan we managed to deliver quite successfully! An additional fun part of the story is that we gave about 30" to the Tour of Califronia pros on that same course, according to Strava. And sure, maybe they had some headwind… and maybe they had another 100 miles to go… Well, we have a few other things that get in the way of our biking, so take this Peter Sagan! and goodbye KOM Laurens ten Dam!
While I'm still in overall first in the general classification, and with a widened gap from Dave, who's still in second, Carl will probably put in the required 4 races, and other strong riders still could (including our favorite teenager phenomenon Adrien Costa!). So the game is still wide open, but I'm glad to have brought in the second win for the team, yeah-hee!