What do I love about bike racing? I love everything involved with racing on a team, the tactics and camaraderie...I love the individual effort it takes to put yourself in position to do win. I love taking a chance and attacking with the hope that this is the one that will stick. I love the anxiety and adrenalin you get when you see that 1K sign on the last lap. What do I hate about racing,?.....besides crashing :)....F'ING mechanicals. Flat tires happen and if you get a wheel back on fast you can rejoin the pack. I had a few DNF's last year because of flats, but this year at Dung 2 was the first time I ever had an issue when going 40 mph while charging to the finish. More on that later.
What a great day for a bike race, or anything else for that matter. I've gotten used to racing in the afternoon so I wasn't all that excited to be in the first race out. It was only 38 degrees when I got to the lot and my toes froze while standing in line to register. It was supposed to warm to the upper 60's but that would be long after we lined up. I wasn't sure how I was going to dress. I wanted to throw on everything I had but knew we would warm up fast . I put on arm and knee warmers and then sat in my rig with the heat cranked for a while before I got on my trainer.
We had a good size field of 70+ and it looked like IJM and Bikesale were the teams to watch. We rolled out at 9:45 and IJM started sending guys off the front right away. It's funny when guys start getting nervous about breaks at mile one of a 60 mile race, but they do. Some of the attacks lasted for a while but they were all brought back. IJM kept sending guys and for the first couple of laps I was trying to just stay up front and watch what was happening. I had some stomach issues (I'll spare you the details) before the race and I was actually worried I might not be around for the finish. I worked to stay up front but it was hard. My stomach was doing back flips. I drank more than I usually do in the early miles of a race in hopes I would feel better. On the 4th lap I dropped back a bit and Wes came up and asked how I was doing. I hadn't thought about it for a while and realized I was actually starting to feel better. Stomach good, legs good. What to do? I quickly moved back up to the front and at the start of the last lap two guys jumped, one from First Rate and one from Recycled. I'd been up front all day but hadn't jumped on any breaks. Time to go. I flew off the front and caught them right at the finish line of the 4th lap. By the time we hit the start line we had a nice little gap brewing. We were taking short pulls and rotating nicely. I hadn't counted on it sticking but it felt good to get pistons really cranking. Our gap was growing but I figured it was only because the pack was letting us go. Then, I looked back and saw two guys coming, one from IJM and one from Garage. No one was chasing them. I figured IJM might block for him so we waited for them, let them miss a few pulls and then Alex R. from Garage got us organized. We had a nice rolling pace line going and our lead was growing. I started to get the feeling that we might be able to pull it off. When we got seven miles from the finish a couple of the guys quit pulling through and it was messing up our pace line. I looked back and I could see a lot of yellow on the front and knew that Bikesale was doing most of the work to chase us down. We kept working for another mile but we finally got caught. Even though we worked hard I was still feeling strong and I moved to the yellow line, waited for the pack to get beside us and I moved right in and was able to stay up front. IJM was still launching guys but I wasn't about to do anything about it. Wes came up to the front and was doing some really good work. With only a couple of K's to go helped bring us all together except for one guy off the front. I don't think anyone thought he could hang out there that long by himself but he did. I knew that if Brandon from Bikesale was up front in the last 1K he would be a good wheel to grab. I'm not sure if many others outside of his team knew that, as this was his first race as a 3. To stay on him I had to ride in the wind a little but I didn't mind. As we got closer to the 1k mark you could hear everyone gearing down. I was up front and ready to go. With about 250m to go Brandon jumped and I was right on him. We were flying. At about 100m I was still up front and decided to make my move and swung left. As we hit 40mph (I only know that from looking at my stats afterwards) my front end started to shake violently. I let off for a nano-second and then poured it on again. It was insane...Do I keep going and pray I don't go down, possibly causing a huge pile up? Or do I play it safe? I really wanted to keep going. I was in perfect position but I was pretty sure it would end badly - I was starting to lose control. With about 40m to go I shut it down, moved left and watched everyone fly by. I finished 25th. When we rode past the parking lot I was shaking so bad that I didn't keep riding to cool down. I had to get off the bike. I had never experienced anything like that before and it was the most scared I've been in a race. I was pissed at my bike...I mean me for not knowing there was an issue with my bike. I'm going to try to take away the positive and not focus on the woulda-coulda stuff. It was a great day and I'm glad I wasn't the guy that took everyone down at the finish of a race. Next week!!