by Justin Rossi (Marc Pro – Strava)
This last weekend was awesome, and I wanted a tune up for the upcoming Nevada City/Mt Hood phase of the season. Teammates Nate Freed, Nick Schaffner, and I carpooled down to the Montserrat Circuit in Rocklin, CA put on by Victory Velo Cycling. We knew the forecast was supposed to be over 100, but we soon learned via car temp gauge it was heading into the 110+ region. We pulled off, as planned, to gather some ice for our pantyhose jersey stuff. We met up with fabled teammate Chuck Hutcheson for our pre-race strategy talk. Our goal? Survive the heat and win!
I had not previewed the course because my pasty white ass was hiding in the comforts of Chuck’s EZ Up. We took to the start line with plenty of joking and chatter about the heat and all agreed to survey the course for one neutral lap before the racing would engage. This is when I realized the gravity of this course…holy hell…two legit power climbs per lap, a couple technical turns, and a whole slew of places to attack. This course was built for me, but I didn’t want it to be. I was hoping to open up the legs for Sunday’s state TT championship, but not destroy my body for 60 minutes.
There was one smart guy who attacked on the neutral lap, but once racing started on the second lap Nick attacked and got up the road. He was soon joined by Brandon Trafton (Full Circle), Josh Carling (Sierra Nevada), and a rider from Red Peloton. Chuck immediately got across and this was the first 15-20 minutes of the race. They had a comfortable 20-second gap, but I could tell they weren’t drilling it to stay away. After some hesitation, I realized I needed to get across or risk just sitting for the rest of the day. Like I said, I needed to open the legs. I attacked and bridged to the break with Dave Christenson (Sierra Nevada) in tow. I caught the break on the second climb and immediately attacked over the top. I looked back and saw no reaction and went into TT mode with 30 minutes remaining. My gap opened to 30+ seconds within 2 laps, and it was all autopilot from there. Each lap, I would take a bottle from the awesome volunteer feed zone and look for the ice cold water drops. I absolutely love the solo breakaway and trying to figure out how to pace the course. Knowing when to hit the throttle, making sure you never touch your brakes, hitting all the lines you prefer, and tucking to rest when your speed is up.
I soon saw that all three yellow mavic helmets (Marc Pro – Strava teammates) were in the break. Soon after, I noticed Chuck was off the front and had a huge gap. Then, with three to go, I saw Nick dangling off the front of the break. Crap…we were going to go 1-2-3. I kept my pace high through the finish and was able to celebrate with my best Superman jersey rip impression. I rolled back to the finish to see Chuck take 2nd, Nick cross in 3rd, and Nate take the field sprint for 4th! The sierra mountain men, came down from the hills, stuffed their jersey’s full of ice and threw down on a great day for Marc Pro Strava. A huge thanks to Victory Velo for putting on such an awesome race, with some of the most technical and difficult courses I have played on and for the volunteers who braved the temps to cool the riders off with bottle drops and ice cold towels for after the race.