It had been close to 100 degrees all week and was supposed to be in the high 80's on Sunday so we were planning on racing in hot weather. When I woke up I was glad to see that it was foggy in Bellevue and was only 60 degrees. I still figured that by our 11:06 start time the fog would burn off and be quite hot. To our surprise it was still cloudy, cool and drizzling when we drove through Olympia. I didn't expect that. We arrived in the lot really early and were able to get a nice warm up. We noticed that the wind was gradually picking up and by the time we started the trees were definitely swaying.
We started with one foot down and I figured at least one of us would have trouble clipping in. It was me. It took me a few seconds to get in and I had to sprint for a few to get in line but then all was good. Wes got out front and we were in line for 32 miles of fun. It would be nice to say that we had a straight forward out and back race but ours was nothing of the sort. We were getting up to speed and were riding in a really tight line. We were maybe two miles into the race when Mark took his first turn at the front. He was hammering pretty hard and when he pulled off he yelled that one of our guys was off the back. It may have been my fault but I didn't hear him say that he was "off". When we sat up to look back he was already pretty far back. We looked at each other and thought he may have had a mechanical. We chatted for a second about what to do and in a split second decision we decided to press on. It may have been a bad move but we didn't have a lot of time to sit up and discuss it. Could we do this with only three guys this early in the race???? It's the third rider to cross the line that gives you your time so we couldn't loose another guy.
We got back into our rhythm and started our rotation. I was really surprised how tight we stayed and how strong we were all pulling. The next dozen or so miles went pretty smooth and no one was missing a pull or dropping off. This is about when we encountered our next set of unfortunate events. Jordan's chain jumped off the big ring and he could not get it to shift back up. He was probably pedaling at 140+ rmp but did not skip a beat. How long could he keep that up? I figured we would have to stop to let him manually pull the chain up at some point. Then we looked up and saw a couple of aid vehicles right in the middle of the road. One of the CAT 4 teams had a misshap and some of their guys were in the ditch getting attention. We figured we would get in the left lane and just power by. All of a sudden Erik Anderson jumped up and held out a stop sign. WTF!! We slowed but didn't stop. He yelled at us to stop. We had to unclip and put a foot down. IJM was barreling down the road in the opposite direction and he made us wait for them to pass. It seemed like an eternity. The only good thing was that Jordan was able to get his chain back on his big ring. We were allowed to pass but it was like we were starting from scratch. It took a couple of seconds to get organized and back in our groove. Then, right as we started to get up to speed we came right up on the turn-a-round. This was the coolest part of our race. Our tt guru, Barb, had taught a really cool team tt turn around move and I think we worked it to perfection. I could tell you what it was but I'd have to kill you. We were around the cone super fast and back up to speed. It was also cool to hear Barb and Mirna cheering us on at the turn around. Right after we did the turn and accelerated, we were at the aid vehicles again. We saw Eric pull out the stop sign. Not again?!? This was going to really rattle our nerves. This time we didn't stop but had to slow way down before he let us by. How much time were we losing??? We got back up to speed and right as we did we looked up and saw a tractor towing a flatbed full of hay across the road. It was just our luck that he stopped right in the middle of the road and there was no way for us to pass. We started yelling at the top of our lungs while we hit the brakes and started to slow down. Right at the last minute he pulled forward and we were able to squeak by. This was getting crazy. Right when we got back up to speed we looked up and what should we see? I'm not joking...A black cat ran right out in front of us. I think we all actually cracked a smile on that one. I think this was the first time that we really noticed how hard the wind was blowing right in our face. It wasn't too bad except for the fact that we were starting to feel the pain in our legs. Occasionally we would catch the wind blowing across us and it would hit the disc wheels pretty hard. I was hoping we would not lose our focus and hit each other. We were still going pretty hard and none of us had missed a pull. I finally looked down at my Gamin and noticed we had only about seven miles to go. These were the hardest of the race. We were all feeling the pain but no one gave up. We finally got to the last 1k and started to give it our last big effort. with about 300 meters to go you have a 90 degree right turn that leads straight to the finish. You can see the finish well before the turn and I think it gave Mark his nose for the line and he hit all cylinders. Jordan and I had to tell him to ease up. I told him to lead us to the finish and we powered across the line. As we did I found that my rear tire was almost completely flat. How long was I riding on that? We had left it all out there and besides our unfortunate mishaps I felt pretty good about our performance.
We knew Garage had probably put a big hurt on the field. They too, along with everyone except IJM, had finished with three as well. We found this the case when the results were finally posted. Minus Garage it would have been a great, tight race. IJM had a time of 1:10:00 for 2nd, we posted a 1:10:02 for 3rd and Cucina had a time of 1:10:07 for 4th. It doesn't get any closer than that. We had taken the Bronze for the State Championship!!! When I got home and uploaded my Garmin stats I saw that we had stopped for six seconds at the aid vehicle. That, along with the time it took us to slow down and ramp back up each time would have given us plenty of time to give us 2nd place. Oh well, that is racing. Next year!!