Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Vance Creek Road Race

What a difference a week makes.  Training had gone well and even though my hip was still hurting a little it was feeling a lot better.  I had planned on racing in the Pro/1/2 field but was still worried about my hip and most the of my teammates were opting for the Masters 35+ race.  On top of that the weather was supposed to be shitty again and I'd rather suffer through it with teammates then on my own.  We crammed six guys and gear into my RV and drove the two hours to Homer Simpson's stomping grounds in the pouring rain.  This week my warm up consisted of pumping up my tires and riding to the start a few minutes before the race.  We didn't have a huge field but there was a lot of talent lined up.  We really wanted to make up for our lackluster performance at IVRR and planned to attack like hell right from the start.  The Vance Creek course is mostly flat and finishes on a long, gradual climb.   We were doing five laps for a total of 66 miles. 

It wasn't raining too hard at the start but that would change soon.  The course starts off going downhill and after we took the right hand corner at the bottom of the initial descent we started to attack.  We took turns attacking and realized the field was up for the challenge.  After the super fast start we took the turn onto the narrow farm road.  The first thing I noticed was the big stream of liquefied shit that a farmer was shooting out over his field right next to the road.  I tried to remember to keep my mouth closed.

At the start we were told, like we do every year, that we are to treat this narrow road like there is a yellow line and not to cross it.  I think everyone was a little nervous about missing out on a break and guys were moving out over the imaginary yellow line to move up.  Pretty soon we were stretched out across the full road and not making any attempts to move back to the right.  We attacking and I think it was Nikos who took off and got a gap.  a short time later our lead car motioned at us to slow down and then made an abrupt stop right in front of Nikos......WTF???  I thought Nikos was going to fly right into his bumper.  He got out of his car and told us the official wanted to talk to us.  We got a stern lecture about staying to the right.  He even threatened to DQ all of us and cancel the race.  We all apologized except one person who felt the need to argue.  I'm not sure why since the reason they had to stop us was because the official had no room to drive his car up next to us.  After a couple of minutes this we were back to racing.  We kept attacking and the pack kept bringing us back.  I had gone a couple of times and so far I felt pretty good.  I was actually worried about the pain coming back on the climb but I did a lot of climbing on training rides over the week and felt no pain. 

When we reached the base of the climb for the first time we were all together.  We were rolling up at a nice clip and I had no problem moving up to the front.  No one tried to attack so about half way up I decided to give it a go.  I shot off the front hard and didn't look back until I crossed the finish line.  I took a look back and saw that along with my teammate Aaron (I'll call him Good Aaron since he is on my teem and the other Bad Aaron since he's not, just to make it easy), Joe(Tete de la Course),  Anthony(Audi) and Aaron(Rocket) had all jumped on.  Except for Bad Aaron we all had teammates in the pack that would help to discourage other from trying to bring us back.   We dangled off the front with about a 30 second gap for a while before we started to slowly drift away.

The five of us were working really well together and I was already getting the feeling that this could be THE break to be in.  We reached the climb for the 2nd time and I still wasn't comfortable with our lead and felt we were going to slow.  I moved to the front and set tempo and let the whole way up.  What a difference a week makes.  Last week I was struggling to just hang on and now I was setting the pace. 

We were told we had over a minute on the field so now it was time to make sure it stuck.  Over the next couple of laps it was pretty much status quo......except that by now it was raining about as hard as it possibly could.  Thank God I decided to wear the Gabba jersey.  I'm not sure what it was but we were seeing tons of guys from other fields just standing on the side of the road with flats.  I kid you not, there were tons.  I looked back and saw our wheel car was no where to be seen and was praying I wouldn't suffer the same fate. 

By the time we hit the climb for the 4th time we were told we had well over a two minute gap with two laps to go.  Baring some major incident I knew it was our race to win.  We definitely had the advantage of having two from out team in the break.  I started to think about when Good Aaron and I should start attacking these guys.   I been with Joe in a number of breaks and I knew he would work his ass off until the end. Anthony was riding super strong and I knew that if we brought Bad Aaron to the line with us he could out sprint all of us.  I asked Good Aaron how he was doing and he told me his legs were starting to feel it.  I looked at everyone else and no one was showing signs of weakness.  I decided that I was going to punch it up the climb to see what would happen.  When we started back down I was that the wrong Aaron and Joe were still on my wheel.  Good Aaron and Anthony had fallen off.  I thought about sitting up for a sec but then decided to gun it.  We flew down the hill at 45 mpg in the pouring rain, taking a few risks along the way.   Joe and I took turns at the front and before long we reached the shit water farm road for the last time.  We started back into our rotation but Bad Aaron started skipping pulls.  I had been warm all day but I started to notice that I was starting to lose feeling in my fingers.  Now I just wanted to hurry up and finish this thing.  I didn't care if Aaron pulled through or not.  I just stayed out front and waited for Joe to relieve me.  When Aaron would finally pull through he only stayed on the front long enough to drop back. 

We hadn't received any intel on our lead for quite a while so when we took the right turn off of the farm road I took a look back to see if anyone was closing.  No was there so I knew this was it.  As we made our way towards the climb the games began and the two of them had no problems letting me sit on the front. I was still feeling good so I didn't care.  I started wondering about how this was going to play out.  I knew Aaron was just going to sit on and wait until the last possible second to make his move.  I was waiting for Joe to come shooting by.  We reached a little riser with about 2 miles to go and I decided to jump out of the saddle just to see what would happen.  Both of them were right on me.  I sat up in hopes of at least one of them would take the lead but that didn't happen.  I saw the climb coming up and decided to wait until the 1K mark to do anything.  Right about that time Joe attacked hard Aaron was quick to jump on his wheel and I was finally able to get on the back.  Joe slowed way down and we were crawling.  I somehow found myself back on the front.  We had just under 1K to go and I decided that I was going to go all in.  I didn't want to play games anymore.  Worst case scenario is that I blow up classically and end up third.  I had stayed in my big ring and was ready to unload.  I put my head down and dug super hard.  after about 10 seconds or so I took a quick look under my shoulder and was super surprised to see that Joe had cracked!  Aaron was still right on my wheel.  I eased up for a second.  If I took Aaron to the top of the climb I knew he would just sit on my wheel and blow by me with about 50m to go.  I wasn't going to lose it like that.  I put in another attack and this time put myself into the hurt locker.  After about another 10 seconds I took another quick look and HELL YEAH!!! Aaron was gone.  Even though my lungs were about to explode I think I managed to giggle out loud.  I kept going hard until I had about 100 meters to go and then sat up and enjoyed the win.  I was going to win or lose it on my terms and I was super glad that it was for the win.  This totally made up for last week's race.

2014 Independence Valley Road Race

I'm usually pretty psyched for this race.  It's the first race if the season that we get to go uphill!   Two things (well three) prevented me from having this feeling.  I was still feeling the affects of hitting the deck at the 2nd Sequim race and the weather peeps told me it would be pouring rain by the time we started at 1:15.  I'll get to the third reason in a bit.  We had a good squad heading down for the Masters 35+ field so psyched or not I going to roll off the line for this one.  When we arrived in Rochester is was, as predicted, pouring down rain.  We took our time getting ready inside the Swiss Hall and basically didn't come back out until we had to stage for our race.

We rolled out and even though there were a few attacks (none by me) we reached the first climb together.  The pace up was pretty tame and I had no problem reaching the top at the front of the pack.   The speed on the descent was pretty tame as well.  I think everyone wanted get a feel of the wet surface once before taking any risks.   As we regrouped on the flats and I started hearing a weird noise coming from my bike.  I couldn't figure out what it was until......(reason # 3) I noticed that the shoe on my front, right brake was loose and was just flapping back and forth on my wheel.  I reached down and tried to tighten it but couldn't feel the nut at all.  A few seconds later it shot off my bike making an awful noise as it bounced around through the pack.  I later realized that along with my front skewer that was sheared off in my crash the nut on the brake shoe must have done the same thing.  There was basically nothing holding it on.  The opposite pad was pinned against my wheel so I quickly reached down and opened the brake release all the way......Wait, now I have no front brakes for descending these wet roads.  While all that was happening Jeff Reed(Starbucks) had rolled off the front and got a small gap.  No one gave chase.  We still had 50 miles or so to go so I guess no one thought he could do it alone.  Of course I know better and when we reached the 2nd climb I attacked and separated myself from the pack.  No once chased me either.  I had no idea how far up the road Jeff was so I just put my head down and went to work. 

I passed the finish line and was told Jeff had a 1:30 gap on me and soon after was told I had about a minute on the pack.  I dug a little deeper and soon was told I Jeff was only 1:20 up the road.  I reached the steep climb for the second time and decided to put in a big effort.  Things felt good until about 3/4 the way up.  All of a sudden I felt a sharp pain around my left hip.  I thought I was fully recovered from my crash (minus the road rash).  but I hadn't had the chance to go full steam like this during any training rides.   It felt like something was pulling on bone, tendons and muscles all at the same time.  It was almost unbearable.  I only had a short way to go before the road leveled out a bit so I just grit my teeth and pushed on.  As I rounded the corner I eased off a bit to see if the pain would go away.....NOPE.. Shit!  I pushed hard until the downhill section and as I made the turn almost forgot that I had no front brakes.  I took the descent with extreme caution and was glad I had a clear line and no follow car.  I used the whole road to keep from having to use my brakes.  I totally forgot about the pain in my hip.  That didn't last long.  At the bottom I took the right hander and got out of the saddle.  Shit, this isn't going to go away.  I took a look back and couldn't see the pack so I just kept pedaling as hard as I could and tried to figure out how I could make this pain go away.  It was brutal but I was told Jeff was only 1:10 up the road now so I was still making up time on him.  I don't know how accurate the info I was getting  but it gave me some motivation to keep going.  I kept at it for another five or so minutes before I couldn't take it anymore and had to ease up some which did help.  After a few more minutes I took a look back and could see that pack slowly closing on me. I decided to sit up. 

The pack came up on me pretty fast and Joe Holmes (Tete de la Course) and one of the Oregon guys flew by and yelled at me to jump on.  I got out of the saddle but just couldn't respond.  As I waited for the rest of the field I was now worried I might not even be able to hang at the back of the pack.  This sucked.  I had to work super hard but was able to hook onto the train.  I ate, drank, stretched, cussed an prayed that no one would attack for a bit.  That didn't happen.  The field decided they didn't want Joe up the road and soon we were strung out single file with me dangling off the back.  Alex kept falling off and pulling himself back on.  I couldn't figure out why he was pedaling at such a high cadence in this tail wind. I found out later his DI2 battery had died and he was stuck in his little ring.   He dropped off one last time and drifted off the back.  I was about a second away from sitting up and joining him but decided to put in one more dig to see if I could get back on.  I somehow managed to bridge up and spent the rest of the lap trying to use a little energy as possible.   We worked our way towards the 2nd climb and I realized I was no longer racing.  I forgot that Jeff was off the front and couldn't help the team to try to help pull him back.  I was now in survival mode.  The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I don't think I've ever pulled out of a race unless I've had a mechanical.  A flat tire right now would be nice!  The pain was not going away so I did make the decision that if I got dropped on the climb I would just limp back to the parking lot and quit.  I suffered my ass off to make it up but was unable to hang with the pack.  There were a few guys behind me and I was just going to wait for them at the bottom and try to roll with them and then head back to the parking lot.

Near the bottom of the descent the wheel car flew around me.  I was no longer in the race. I was totally dejected but knew there was nothing I could do about it.  I second later a large pickup truck flew around me and when he settled in behind the wheel car the pack slowed up.  Even at the pace I was pedaling I soon was right on the bumper of the truck.   I had no plans on rejoining the race but at least I could get a free ride for a bit.  Before long I realized that we were right on the pack so I kept moving out to the right so that the follow car could see that I wasn't (wink, wink) drafting.  I was on the shoulder and decided to dig hard one more time to see if I could catch on.  I somehow did and then thought, "Why the hell did I do this?"  I still had another full lap to go with two more climbs.  I was barely hanging on during the flat sections. 

We passed the finish and  approached the point to where we take the right turn and head towards the climb or........I could just take a left and head back to the car.  Do I quit and roll to the parking lot or do one more agonizing lap?  I'd already decided to quit twice so maybe it would be easier this time.  Well, for some reason I kept going.  My new goal was to make over the top of the climb with the field.  If I didn't I was going to turn around and head to the car.  If I crested on my own and kept going I'd pretty much have to finish the rest of the loop on my own....for no f'ing reason!  Somehow I fought through the pain (kind of) and made it to the top just hanging on to the last wheel.  Sweet!!.....I think.  With no front brakes I stayed off the back so I wouldn't get in anyone's way on the descent.  I did have to put in an effort to get back on after we rounded the corner at the bottom of the hill.  I finally realized that Jeff was still up the road and was probably going to take the win.  If it wasn't one of our guys I was super happy it was Jeff. 

I wasn't sure if I was being stubborn or stupid. I only needed to get up one more climb and then hobble to the finish.  Easier said than done.  Before we reached the climb a few guys jumped off the front.  Me, Nikos and Tom were the only three left and I wasn't going to be able to attack or help lead anyone out at the finish.  I was pretty much worthless.  I decided to do what many "Non Climbers" do and raced to the front with a full head of steam.  Hopefully I'd be able to get at least half way up before getting swarmed by the pack and by the time I drifted back we'd be near the top.  As I started to drift back through the pack I saw Nikos fly by towing a couple of others.  I looked back and noticed that somehow a bunch of guys got dropped and one of them wasn't me.  The only other person around me was my teammate Tom.  I told him that since Nikos was up the road I was just going to take it easy to the finish.  He somehow convinced me to keep going.  We took turns rotating and I soon realized that when you are hurting there are a lot of small hills on that home stretch that I'd never noticed before.  I also never really realized that you still had eight more miles to go before the finish.  It was about the hardest eight miles I'd ever done.  With Tom's help I coasted across the line for 10th.  I probably wasn't as happy as Jeff was with his 50 mile off the front solo for the victory but I was proud of myself for gutting it out.  It was a small victory in my head.

Sequim (Tour de Dung) Road Race #2

I know I live in the PNW and for the most part I love it.  The last two months were abnormally dry but now that the season has started it hasn't stopped f'ing raining.  I'm sick of neoprene gloves and shoe covers, arm/leg warmers and rain capes.  Last week was pretty much a rained soaked mess but it looked like it might, maybe, possibly be dry for Sequim 2.  I did my usual thing by heading over in the RV Friday afternoon.  I made my routine stop at Sound Brewing for a beer and then on to a campground near Dungeness.  I woke up Saturday morning to kind of nice weather and was cautiously optimistic. 

My jobs for the morning races were the same as last week, course setup and corner six traffic marshal.  I should have known that the day was going to be interesting after my major dumb f*ck move towards the end of the morning races.  There were two of us working that corner and I had the radio.  It wasn't working well during the first couple of laps and I just mainly heard half garbled communications.  For some reason it started working better half way through the race.  At some point I think a small breakaway group in the Cat 5 field passed the Cat 4 pack.  I heard "1 lap to go" over the radio and thought, cool, one more for the 4's which would mean two more for the 3's.  Then my radio started acting up again and the only guys I could hear clearly were the lead cars just before they reached our corner.  During this lap I got a "Cat 3 field approaching corner six!"  I replied, "Copy that." and we did our job stopping traffic.  After that we packed up and headed back to the parking lot.  I signed up for the Pro/1/2 race and slowly started to get changed in the RV.....BAM, BAM, BAM!  "Hey man, the race isn't over, we need to head back out there!"  I was pretty much buck naked and there was no way I could get dressed and out the door in time.  Lucky for me it all worked out OK thanks to Jonathon and Aaron.  When they announced one lap to go it was for the 5's in the breakaway, not the 4's that were just behind....DOH!!

Anywho, Zach and I were the only two on the team lining up for the Pro/1/2 race which was 84 miles.  It was chilly but DRY so I was pretty happy.  We had a good sized field of 72 with several pros in the mix.  It looking to be a good one.  It was pretty much the same as last week.  The race started, HSP attacked and things sorted themselves out from there.  So far the race was pretty uneventful. 

I think that changed with two laps to go.  The darkest clouds you've ever seen were quickly approaching and it was only a matter of time before they were going to let loose some nasty ass weather on us.  We all made jokes about it but hoped it would just hold off long enough for us to finish.  Apparently there had been an early crash near or on the climb where someone broke a collar bone.  I had no idea that happened and then John Flack had the misfortune of having a major bike failure when we hit the rumble strips on lap six that sent him to the ground and then the hospital.  For how violent it looked and sounded I was surprised he came out of it with mainly road rash. 

We felt a few drops start to fall but it did look like we might get the full race in without getting wet.  With about 3K to go I decided I wanted to be in the mix for the finished and worked my ass off to stay about 5th or 6th wheel.  It was tough but by the time we reached the 1K mark I was right where I wanted to be.  HSP was setting tempo at the front and I was sitting 4th wheel right behind Richter.  I was in the best position you could be in.  I know I can't out sprint him but If I could hold his wheel until he unleashed his fury I was pretty sure I was looking at a top 5 finish.  As we approached the hill his lead out crew notched it up a bit and it was game on.  I could  other guys coming up on my left but things were looking good.  With about 250m to go I was making checks and just waiting for Richter to go.  The situation couldn't have been more perfect for me............And then........Mother F*cker!  Before I knew what was happening I was on the ground.  I have gone down before but I usually sense something bad is happening and things seem to go in slow motion.  Not this time. I didn't even have time to process anything.  I won't go into details about what happened  but it was a f'ing mess.  I think both Ian Tubbs(Audi) and Jeff Reed(Starbucks) got to use me as a landing pad and when I finally had a chance to process things I noticed that 10 or 15 other guys were on the ground behind me.  I started swearing like, well, like I can in certain situations before I even knew if I was OK.  I soon realized that my body was battered but not broken.  Where the hell is my bike.  My front tubie had been torn off so I couldn't ride to the finish.  I checked out my bike and it seemed to be in pretty good shape. I started walking to the finish so I could find someone to give me a lift back to the start. 

Crashing sucks but it is part of racing.  I think everyone involved walked away from it w/ minor injuries.  I was more mad about missing out on a high placing than I was about losing skin.  I want to thank everyone who helped me and others out after this including the EMT's, Dave and Neil (who happen to be on my team) and Jeff and Kirsten Reed who drove me back to the parking lot and followed me out to make sure I was OK.  Fun times I tell ya!

Friday, April 4, 2014

What do you get when you spend a total of about 320 miles in a car that includes two ferry crossings, a toll bridge, wind and rain just to ride your bike for a few hours?........................................................

Back to back road races at Sequim and Mason Lake.

Saturday
Sequim (Tour de Dung) Road Race.
The course is on a 12 mile loop that our field raced clockwise six times. It is mainly flat but the weather and wind always seems to find a way to make it interesting.  New for this year we decided to move the finish to the hill just past the starting area.  The old finish had produced a fair amount of crashes in the past and this would hopefully string things out a bit.

After getting up at the crack of dawn to help set up the course followed by corner marshal duties I lined up for the start of the Pro/1/2 race.  Zach and I were the only two on our team in the field so we were just going to see how things played out (meaning wait for HSP to start attacking) and hope to get in one of the early breaks.  We had field of about 60 with a lot of strong racers so I knew it was going to be a barn burner.  Sure enough the attacks started right from the start and after trying to get in a couple of failed attempts about 10 or so guys managed to get away.  At some point I got in a group that almost managed to bring them back but we lost steam and they disappeared down the road.  Then, it started to f'ing rain and the wind picked up.  I was reserved to just sit in and ride it out but that didn't happen.  Then just after the start of lap 4  Jeff Reed (Starbucks) jumped near the top of the climb (from what my rain drenched brain remembers) and for some reason I decided to attack an bridged up to him.  No one followed so the two of us took turn taking long pulls (Jeff's were a lot longer than mine) and we got a decent sized gap on the main field.  I was feeling great but I was motivated to give it a try.  No one really gave chase at all until about 3/4 through when David (Oly) started to bridge but soon lost steam.  He was then joined by two from KR.  We now had five guys and then someone that had been dropped from the leading break joined us.  Colin was really pulling hard and I was thinking we might be able to hold off the field, even if it was for 10th place.  Just as we passed were coming up on two laps to go we hit the finish climb and my right quad cramped up.  It was only for a few seconds but the time I took to try to stretch it caused me to get gapped and with their speed I was not able to catch back on.  I felt as if it never happened so I was hoping to put in a big dig on the downhill section and catch back on......NOT!  I was left out in no man's land just waiting for the main field to gobble me up.  I kept pedaling hard just in case but soon enough the field was on top of me.  I managed to slot back in and recover. 

No one seemed interested in chasing after the heavy rain started to pound down on us.  I certainly didn't.   We started the final lap and we were almost at a crawl.  This got me chilled fast.  And all I wanted to do was get this thing over with.  About the time we rounded corner six for what use to be the finish sprint, things finally started to ramp up and I just moved to the front so I could avoid any trouble.  At this point I had no interest in sprinter for 15th place but when we got near the 1K marker I decided I didn't want to be in the mess so I started driving hard.  Brad(HSP) was along side me and we kept the pace going.  We had full open road at the 1K marker but it was still weird.  After the initial climb there was a blind corner just before you spotted the 200m marker and the finish.  Even though the road was closed I couldn't help wondering if we'd see a car come flying around the corner.  Just as the sprint started someone in front of me blew out of his pedal and that caused a minor panic.  I managed to get around him and got to the finish line in 21st place.  Not impressive but I was happy with how I raced. 

Sunday:
Mason Lake #1
I actually had no intention of hauling my ass in a car and driving 80 miles to a race that might have the same weather as yesterday.  I was beat to shit and none of my teammates were going to double up.  I woke up on Sunday and was planning on going on a training ride with some of my teammates at 1:00pm.  That changed when my wife told me she was going to have to work most of the day.  "Shit, should I just go race?"  Before I knew it was hauling my gear and tired ass into my rig and heading down the road.  WTF was I thinking.  I'm too old for this shit, right?  OK,  I decided to wimp out a little and planned on signing up for the Masters 1/2/3 race.  That wouldn't be as hard on the old body.  I hit about every type of weather pattern on the way over and just before crossing the Narrows bridge it started to rain so hard I could barely see out the window.  I thought about just pulling off and grabbing some beers at the Seven Seas Brewery in Gig Harbor and then just heading home.  That didn't happen.  When I arrive at the parking lot I was surprised that the sun was out and it was almost 60 degrees.  I can do this.  I walked down to registration to find that only five guys were signed up for the Masters 1/2/3 field.  Screw that, I was not going to race against five guys.  There was still an hour until race time so I went back to the car, kitted up and returned later to find no change in the numbers.  I handed over my cast and put my name in to race in the Pro/1/2 field.  At least the weather was nice.........

When we lined up it was still pretty nice out.  Most guys had ditched most of the cold/fowl weather gear and were looking forward to racing in decent conditions.  I was the only guy on my team there and my legs felt like shit so I was just going to sit in and hopefully not get dropped.  Great plan, huh?  The race started and two things happened right off the bat.  First, as we rounded the first turn it and headed up the fist climb it started to f'ing pour down rain.  Where did this come from?  Five minutes ago it was sunny and 60 degrees!  Oh wait, we live in the PNW.    Right after that Brian (HSP) took off hard off the front.  No one gave chase and off he went.  We still had 70 miles to go and I certainly didn't care.  My legs felt like shit and I was happy to just sit in.  After a few minutes he disappeared down the road and that was that.     His lead continued to grow during the next two laps and any attempt some of the Oregon guys as well as Audi and Oly did move to the front and tried to get things going.  HSP was quick to respond and didn't ever let anyone get up the road.  Even though I wasn't feeling great I was still able to get to the front during every climb.  This helped me feel that I probably wouldn't get dropped.  My only problem was that after dealing with a few sketchy riders during the fast, wet, downhill section I started to take it easy and when we crossed the finish line I found myself near the back of the pack.  There was no way I'd get any kind of result if I kept that up. 

I can't remember when it happened but I wanted to say it was just after the start of the third lap somewhere around the parking lot.  I heard that nasty sound of carbon colliding with pavement right behind me.  It sounded like the guy(s) that hit the deck were sliding for ever on the wet pavement.  I was waiting for my wheel to get taking out but I ended up OK.  Two guys went down, Steve(Audi) and one of the guys from the Oregon HPC team.   We found out that we were starting to bring back Hitch.  It was probably a combo of him starting to tire and the overall speed of the pack. It didn't matter much since I knew HSP was waiting to start launching guys off the front again.  This time up the climbs I took a couple of digs off the front.  I was quickly hauled in but it felt good to finally start racing instead of just going through the motions.  After the crash I was even more tentative on the descent and no matter what I did I could not move up through the pack.  Hmmmm.....

As we started up the climb for lap four we could see Hitch up the road for the first time all day.  Now guys were picking up the pace and by the time we hit the base of the 2nd climb we knew we'd catch him soon.  Once HSP realized this they started to attack.  I think it was Brad who took off and Kaler(Audi) jumped on his wheel.   They quickly reach Hitch and it looked like they would start working together.  I looked back to see if we'd dropped anyone and right when I looked up I saw Hitch violently hit the deck.  He must have crossed wheels with Brad or Kaler.  As we rode by I could see he was in pain.  We organized and started pulling the other two in and just before we reached them Morgan(Canyon) attacked hard and a few seconds later Todd(HSP) was charging hard to grab his wheel.  I moved to the front and we started to give chase but they managed to hold a lead by the time we reached the descent.  This time I made sure I was at the front of the pack for the trip down and I was going to work as hard as I could to stay there.  Riding at the back is no fun especially on fast, narrow, wet roads.  I managed to cross the start for the last lap sitting about 3rd wheel and I was motivated to stay there.

The  last lap was super fun and fast.  Anytime the pace slowed up Ian(Audi) moved to the front and made sure we didn't slow down.  The trip up the 2nd time was pretty fast but I had no problem staying at the front.  I took the corner and dug as hard as I could so that I could stay up front.  We whipped down the descent and onto the backstretch where things slowed down a bit.  I didn't think we were going that fast but we were riding single file and no one was trying to move up.  I was sitting third wheel and was fine with that.  Then with about 3K to go Erik(Tete de le Course) went to the front and hit the gas.....GAME ON!  A couple of guys jumped and got in front of me but I was still happy were I was.  With just over 1K to go Jason(Apex) jumped hard.  I responded and so did Kaler(Audi) and Aaron(HSP).  Perfect, we had guys from the two biggest teams up here and their guys wouldn't chase.  I was surprised we got a gap and with 1K to go it was looking good but then we lost Jason and Kaler kind of stopped working.  The field was closing.  Aaron and I looked at each other and then just put our heads down and started going hard.  This was way too early for a sprint but I didn't want to sit up and just let the field come to us.  200m to go and we were still in front.  I knew the big sprinters would blow by us but at least I wasn't sitting in the back of the pack wishing I had a chance.  Five guys did manage to blow by us.  Todd and Morgan got us by 18 seconds with Todd taking the win.  I was super happy to hold on for 8th.  It turned out to be a super fun race.