Here is the race report for the 2009 Greenville Spring Training Series race at River Falls. The result was a fourth place finish. Six laps were ridden for a total of nearly 40 miles by about 50 riders
Lap 1: There was a good sized field when we started off. I jumped in about mid pack and just tried to get a feel for the route and the riders around me. More energy was expended on my warm-up lap than I put out on this first one.
Lap 2: It was taking me a bit to get my race legs back. There was some trouble holding my line through the first lap and then going into a turn on lap two I had a guy go off the road right in front of me. He tangled with two other riders and fell into and off of the road.
I had to take evasive action to miss them. Fear gripped me at that point. I was out there with a still healing broken finger and I got gripped with the feeling that I was going to get taken out. I had to get a hold of myself. By the time we reached the second climb I was feeling much better.
Lap 3: After spending a little too much time up toward the front, I remembered my goal of just bringing the body home with the fenders still on it. I backed off and slipped again to the mid pack. This climb I was feeling even better that the first two laps.
The main issue on the climb was the fact that everyone would rush to get started on the climb and then it was like hitting a wall of riders. The reaction caused us guys behind them to almost come to a stand still. We would then work around them and catch any of the leaders coming down the other side.
Lap 4: I was starting to settle in. I realized I only had to climb two more times. It was the first point where I realized I really wasn’t going to get dropped out the back and I might finish this thing. I started sizing up the people around me thinking that I might even get a top 10.
The people around me started to come more into focus. I heard a voice behind me. It was Peter Mathern. Peter is a guy I have ridden with many times before. He was starting to move toward the front with his teammates and I was seeing him as a real threat.
Lap 5: The good news was I also heard the voice of my teammate Luis Sanchez right behind me. He asked me how I felt, and I replied that I felt surprisingly good. I could tell from his tone that he was there to help me get a good finish.
I’ve ridden with Luis (or as we call him “Louie”) for years. He was one of the reasons I was so excited about joining POA Cycling. He can make a big hole and has some incredible power. He isn’t much of a climber, but if you want a steady workhorse, Luis is your man.
Lap 6: Coming up the climb on lap 5 I eased waaaay up and came over the climb pretty far back, but that allowed me to conserve energy for the final push. Luis was right there with me once we got over and then he moved around me.
I was feeling a little weak legged at that point. I could tell it was just because I had not ridden this far in over three weeks! I had no fear of bonking, but I was certain that at the finish I wouldn’t be able to put up a lot of wattage. Then my teammate took over.
All I did was get behind Luis and he started opening holes for me and taking the wind. In theory I always knew having a teammate work for you was a great help physically. I’ve never had the opportunity to experience it. While it was a help physically, I was surprised by an unexpected benefit.
Luis was making all the decisions for me. All I had to do was make sure I was connected to him. A couple of times he saw a hole and pulled us through it. I just made myself as small as possible and prayed I would make it to the other side! Still, mentally, I was able to concentrate of the decisions ahead.
I approached the last climb feeling physically and mentally relaxed. The only negative was because we were coming up from the back, we did not realize that there was a rider off the front. So, when I was delivered to the bottom of the climb, I thought the only riders I had to beat were the ones right in front of me.
As I came around Luis he looked over and asked, “This okay?” I gave him the thumbs up and moved forward. Thankfully, this time the riders on front started to attack and I was right there with them. The log jam wasn’t there. I was able to go unimpeded for the final effort.
I waited… waited… I could several riders ahead really pushing. I knew they were either really strong, or they were over doing it. I planned to go for broke when I reached the final turn warnings at the top. However, before that happened, a majority of the riders ahead of me started dropping. I began to pass them without really putting out the effort.
As I neared the turn before my planned attack, I saw who I thought was the leader ahead of me. If I was going to beat him, I was going to have to pick it up a bit. I started after him and was gaining until he looked back and saw me. He picked it up a bit and now I was in a battle for my spot.
A junior rider in a Carolina Cyclone kit came up on my left. We rode together for just a little and then he moved pass me. I stood to counter and that is when my jello legs hit. I started searching for a gearing combination that might help me catch up to him. Then I started just hoping I would hold on to my current position.
I put my head down and just ground it out. Turns out the Cyclone rider took the line ahead of both myself and the guy we were both chasing. I rolled across in what I thought was third, but turns out it was fourth.
It turns out the winner had gone off earlier before the climb. The leaders of the field at that point did not attack him because they felt they would catch him on the climb. We didn’t.
Overall I was very happy. I can do this in category four. Let’s get it on!