Break a Record…and Still Not Win!
by Kirk Carlsen (Predator Carbon Repair)
This was my first experience racing Mount Hamilton. I was excited to ride on some new roads and check out some new scenery. I was happy there was a climb in the race, but obviously, I wish it had finished on it, rather than started on it!
From what I’d heard, the descent coming off Hamilton was very sketchy. My plan was to take this descent solo, and let the other riders catch me on the other side. If only I could get away on the mountain, which the course starts on. I did not want to risk crashing while trying to keep up with riders on the descent and jeopardize the remainder of my season.
The morning of the race it turned out to be raining, which made me fear the descent even more. As the race started, people were motivated to keep a high tempo. The climb is long, but not very steep until 3 miles to the top. The wet roads made most of the uphill corners dangerous. After about half way, Adrien, the young junior racer who is a great climber, hit out pretty hard and got a gap. He did not get very far, though. Towards the last five kilometers, he tried again to make the race hard on the steeper sections of the climb. I knew the only way for me to get away is to attack when everyone else was tired. Just after Adrien could no longer hold his pace, I attacked. Sam Bassetti was the only rider able to respond. He did a great job being able to hold the wheel, but soon after, I found myself alone, riding a good tempo. I knew at this point I would at least win the KOM prize.
At the top of the climb, it was dry! I took the descent very mellow. At the bottom, three riders joined me: Sam, Adrien, and Shawn Rosenthal. This happened to be a great mix. They all worked great together. In a lot of these local races, negative racing can really impact the outcome of the race. Soon after we hit some of the rollers on the run in towards Livermore, Sam was not able to hold the pace that Adrien was setting on the climbs. I knew we had a long way to go, so I would pull though to try to keep the group together.
Shawn was our weaker link in the rotation on the climbs. But, he did not hesitate to pull through on the flatter sections. He is a great person, so I was happy to keep a steady pace on the climbs knowing we could use more horsepower on the flatter sections.
With about ten miles to go, Justin Rossi and Art Rand made the junction to us. That had to have been one hard effort to bridge to us, so I knew they were a bit “toasted.” Adrien seemed to not like this mix of riders, and immediately started attacking. I tried my best to keep the group motivated to roll through, because I knew there was still a chance we could get caught before the finish.
There was a headwind, and with ten miles to go there was no way I wanted to try to solo the rest of the way to the finish. Keeping the group riding together was the only way I thought we would stay away to the finish without having any time splits given to us. From there, it was basically just cat and mouse with nothing staying away.
Coming into the finish, I made the mistake of attacking very early. Shawn was able to just get into my draft. Not knowing the finish, we took a right hand sweeper into a finish climb. Shawn was able to come around me to take top honors. I was happy for him because he is a super positive person and is always looking to help out his team, Mike’s Bikes.