The year so far has been an interesting one. I had some early results by attacking early to get in an early break. I then had a string of good results by sitting in for the whole race and saving everything for the sprint. That was followed by a stretch of no results at all with this tactic. At FRESH I decided to go aggressive again, which might have been a good idea, if it hadn’t been 100 degrees in a race starting a high noon. The race was 3 laps of an 18 mile course, for a total of 54 miles.
The Cat 4 race had about 35 starters, and I was by myself this time, no teammates to help out. Comanche rider Derek Alvarado was in the race, and I knew he would be strong, as well as other strong regulars like Charles Mills, and the Bicycle’s Outback team. I had also been clued in to a strong Dallas team, Sun & Ski Champion Core Racing, that had good organization in the Cat 4 ranks. At mile 0.5 Derek rode up alongside me and said “I’m going to attack. Tell me how champion
reacts” – and then he was off! Immediately two Champion racers responded and got on his wheel and the trio started to get a gap, so I decided I would bridge as this had the makings of a break similar to the Alsatian road race that was my best result of the season so far. I made the bridge successfully but it was not to be, as the chase was on immediately and we were soon caught. I think the mistake here, aside from being so early, is the attack was on a long downhill stretch, too hard to get away.
After this failed attack I still felt good, and stayed near the front of the race. We hit a section of steep, short climbs and I tried to break away two or three times, to no avail. It was simply too early, people were still fresh and ready to chase anything. I finally wore myself out and went to the back of the pack to rest up for a while. At the end of each lap was a ~3 mile stretch with a small crosswind, and Derek went to the front here, guttered the field, and put the
hammer down. The pace was pretty hard even in the very back with a draft, it was an impressive show of force.
Lap two some good attacks went off the front, including the duo from Bicycle’s Outback which stayed away for quite a while. I wanted badly to bridge up to them but didn’t quite have the snap to get away from the field. After a couple of attempts I sat up, not wanting to pull the whole field to them. The efforts took a lot out of me though, and I would pay for it later. The heat was starting to get to people on lap two, and fortunately there was plenty of neutral water to be had, and I grabbed a bottle, downing half and pouring the rest on my back and head. We hit the crosswind section and again Derek went to the front and pushed the pace, putting hurt into all of us.
Lap three is a haze, attacks went off the front again and it was all I could do to just hang on to the pack. Bicycle’s Outback got one of their riders away at some point and he stayed away for the win. Derek broke away later but never quite caught him, finishing second..
Somewhere around halfway through I blew up and dropped off the peleton, then settled in to a TT pace to at least get a good workout in. In retrospect, the early bridge on lap one was a move worth trying. The attacks after that were foolish. Had I sat in, I would have had enough snap to bridge up to the Outback team on lap two, and the three of us might have stayed away. If not, I might have at least been able to hang onto the peleton to finish top ten instead of blowing up.