I have a training partner in Socal who, for years, has been busting my chops for never taking a crack at a Master’s jersey. This year the digs began earlier in the season and they came often. Groups rides, Facebook, text messages, and races, “dude… have you registered? I’m not going to stop bothering you”.
So in late August, I registered; thanks Aaron.
The 35-39 men’s Road Race rolled out from the top of Mt Bachelor and descended for 10 miles, the first 4 being neutral. Attacking began immediately upon receiving the go ahead from the official’s lead vehicle. We were still descending at this point, so along with my teammate, Mike Easter, I coasted with the group as the riders continued yo-yoing off the front. Eventually the road flattened out a bit, and after a sharp right turn some more noteworthy moves began to form off the front. Most of these were covered and then deflated by the same beefy Monster Media riders who seem to regularly get assigned this role. The counter attacks began to soften the field, and finally three riders slipped away including one Monster. My teammate, Mike, must have been on the same page because after shimmying up the right side of the peloton, I looked behind me and he was already there; I jumped, and he sat up.
It took me a solid 15 minutes to get across to the three front riders. Karl Bordine, of Monster Media, was the only one looking back to gauge my progress so I knew he was digging to keep me from latching on. I did not recognize the other two riders but they seemed to be more content with being off the front then to bother with preventing a fourth from joining. When I made contact, I gave Karl the obligatory ‘f’-you look and began working.
We put a minute on the field in no time and without too much effort. We were rolling smooth and it seemed as though everyone was motivated to ride for the next 50 miles. The official car pulled up to deliver the time gap, “1 minute 20 on the field. One solo chaser at 40 seconds”.
I remember thinking if that guy got across he would either be a threat or too wasted for me to worry. Thirty minutes later, he (Marco Arocha from Sho-air) was with us and not looking too bad.
So now there were five riders and the peloton was still a minute and change behind. The road was rolling and we were keeping a good momentum, but as if on cue, or as a result of some cycling for dummies handbook strategy, Bordine decides to stop taking pulls after driving the break for an hour. Needless to say I, and the other four riders, questioned his antics but all we got in return were cave man grunts. For a few minutes this continued and the resulting drop in pace allowed for two more riders to appear from the backdrop. Now we are a dysfunctional seven. I got into it a little bit with Karl at this point, but some things are best left to the peloton.
For the next 5 miles or so it was Sho-air, me (Time Factory Team), and two other riders doing the work of the seven; the fate of our gap looking bleak. My thought process prevented me from giving up as long as we were out-of-sight from the field. I had a teammate who was sitting-in, while the remaining unrepresented teams were responsible for sorting out the order of the day. With roughly 15 miles to the finish, things would change as the field was now in sight, 30 seconds behind us.
I attacked the break and put an instant 10 seconds on them. I looked back to see who was going to give chase: Sho-air and Monster Media, everyone else bowed out. Screw it; I decided to go for it. Before long, I had 30 seconds on the two and I could see they were not having an easy go at bringing me back. The field seemed to let off chasing as well; the 4 absorbed break riders yielded a false sense of control.
I rode hard for what seemed like forever. The official car pulled up and gave me splits “2 at 30, field at two minutes”, Me: “How far until the proper climb”, Official: “2 miles”.
I knew if I could get to the climb before the two chasers, I could win. With one more focused segment I was there. The first kilometer sign I saw read 5k. I was still alone and putting some time on the two chasers while thinking ‘good thing you rested, Karl’. The next sign I saw read 3k. I knew from riding the finish the previous day that there was really only 1k of climbing left with 2k of false flat. I knew I won. The field was nowhere in sight and the two chasers were out of time. The next 10 minutes were really nice: euphoric and reflective, with a touch of nothingness; the high I am always after.