Second off: I got fourth ! Whoooo hooooo !!!
Evo sprinting to fourth! Look at the fast guys BEHIND me !!My mother; a.k.a. The Beast, returned from her southern exposure and joined our happy throng. Thus Hottie, Tux and I made four mammals in the war wagon as we journeyed down to Brady, Washington. Where is Brady you may ask? Just go south to Olympia, take a right and go past the moss covered trailers and when you lose cell coverage; you're there !
A longer line at the port o toilets put some strain on the morning schedule, but nothing fatal. The sky was threatening, but it was a weak threat. NOAA said 20% chance of .001 per hour and was a pretty good description of the weather.
There were lots of familiar faces in the peloton this day. I saw my usual Cyclocross friends: Francisco, Alex and Scott. I have made some new friends on the road circuit and exchanged words with Larry, Peter and some others. Kenton and Kevin were out this day as well and everyone was in a good mood. It was over 50 degrees (10C) and dry, what more can you ask for (in the Northwest)?
We rolled out and it was pretty casual. We hit some rollers and there were some attacks that were caught pretty quickly. The result was kind of like Saturday morning intervals. Cruise, cruise, attack, push, relax, cruise, cruise, cruise and repeat. I moved up to a peloton position in the 'teens and was fine with that. There were about seven each Cucia, Olympia, and Fischer guys and they marked each break.
There was a guy in a plaid jersey who was trying to get a break going and he jumped about every five minutes and got reeled in every time. When he wasn't in the break he spent about a third of the time on the front of the peloton. I thought we should tip him for all his hard work.
We ticked off the first lap and I was still feeling good. I tossed my first bottle to the side of the road just past the finish line and moved on the saddle around stretching my back and shoulders.
Evo holding a spotOn the second lap a break crept away with a Cucina guy and a Olympia guy and plaid man. Then a guy from Fischer joined and I realized this had the makings of a break that would be allowed to get away. I was sitting about fifth in the peloton and I bridged up and was joined by Francisco (who should get a demerit for bad team tactics as he is also a Fischer guy). Then peloton didn't want us to go and soon we were once again among friends. I felt strong and hadn't had to go too deep.
A few K's later Kenton took a flyer and nobody was interested in joining or chasing. He built up a gap of one-hundred and fifty meters and he kept looking back. At first he was hoping to see a rider or two join and form a break, but after that didn't happen, he was looking back hoping to get caught so he could get his nose out of the wind.
That is Kenton just behind my buttThe course was three 18 mile laps that went southwest to northeast. There was a wind from the southwest that increased each lap. On the second half of the second lap, the headwind made it so nobody wanted to be in front. We weren't doing trackstands or anything, but it wasn't straining the pack and my mind started to whir....
"Evo," I said to myself, "what are the likely race scenarios?" I thought that with the headwind on the last part of the laps, a breakaway on the last part of the last lap probably was not going to work. It would either be a breakway on the first half of the last lap, or a bunch sprint. The only other option I could envision was an attack on a late hill that would string out and possibly split the pack (39 racers).
What do all of these scenarios have in common? The best place to be for all of them is near the front. I determined to fight for position and race every remaining second.
There is a hairpin turn that launches a steep descent just over a mile from the finish. The yellow sign said 10mph; it was that sharp! When the group passed this there was an attack on the first lap that took a lot of effort to pull back. I positioned myself well and on the second lap I didn't have to work as hard as others did. I smiled.
The third lap I was positioned top ten to fifteen and I drained my bottle and sucked down the last of my gel. The peloton was moving back and forth and I realized I didn't know if there were twenty guys or seventy guys behind me. I smiled as I realized it didn't matter. I stayed on guard to avoid being boxed in.
Kevin threw in a surprise move up the right side with riders following him and suddenly I went from eighth to sixteenth place and I was anxious. I knew we had a few miles left and I waited and pounced when there was an opening on a short, steep climb. To my dismay; plaid man dropped back and said out loud that he was cooked. Lesson for plaid man; save your bullets!
As we approached the hairpin I was delighted and amazed at my position. There were close to forty guys who all wanted to hit the bottom of the hill in the top eight. I took a tight line that enabled me to get out of the saddle and accelerate sooner and get up more speed passing a couple guys who were still turning.
We hit the bottom and we were flying. Less than a mile to the line and I had a good wheel to follow and I claimed the yellow line as my own.
1K to go. The sign flew past and I didn't panic. I could hear riders coming up behind us and we were filling up half the road. This would be the sprint we all expected. "Please guys, no crashes," I thought to myself. There was a row of three in front and another row of three and I was half wheeling on the left side of them. I wasn't sure if we would be getting the whole road at 200m or not and if we didn't, I was boxed in.
Just past the 200m sign and Evo is looking for a way through...I saw the 200m sign and the guy I was half wheeling went left and I had to do the same or crash at 30mph. Soon we were sprinting and I was looking for a lane. I had to wait a moment longer than I wanted and then I had an opening and I went. I was digging and went past some guys pretty fast and looked to my left and to my right. There were three in front of me and I kept drilling it. The line came up and I took fourth.
Blue guy first, Kenton (white top) second, the guy over his shoulder third, Evo fourth !I tried to recall the sprint but it happened so fast that I am a little short on details. When I looked at the photos starting here then I got an idea of how it really played out. What I did know was I took fourth and I was stoked.
Geoff and Evo sharing a post race moment (Geoff had a typically high finish)I caught up with my friend Geoff (who is a great guy by the way) and when he asked how I did I could smile and say, "I got fourth." THAT was awesome.
At first I felt almost guilty since I wasn't wiped out from two hours of hammering like I had been after the last few races. Then I got to thinking; every one of those guys in my race knew it was coming down to a sprint finish and I managed to beat all but three of them. Whoo Hoooo !!