This is my favorite of the three races. I got third in it last year and I was hoping for another top 10 or better this year. It is a four mile course that we would circle seven times. There is about 290 of climbing on each lap and even though the climb isn't that steep guys can get shelled on it if they aren't paying attention. It's that time of year when guys are on vacation, focusing on track, getting ready for cross or just plain burned out. Scott and I were the only two from the team in the CAT 3 field. This was only Scott's 2nd road race after coming back from a season long injury. He did well at LWV#1 and he was ready to go. We didn't go off until 11:00 and we got there early enough to catch the end of the CAT 4/5 race. Our guys were killing it and I wanted to be at the finish to watch them come through. With 1K there was good sized pile up that took Jeff and Bill out of the race. Both are OK but they were poised for a top finish. That was a bummer.
When we rolled out it was already 86 degrees and still climbing. It was going to be a hot one. Since it was only just over 28 miles I decided to only carry one bottle. This was almost a mistake but had did have just enough to get by. The race is pretty predictable. Someone will attack at the climb and then someone else will try to go just as we cross the finish line. After the climb on the first lap I felt that I could hang with anyone on the hill but didn't feel that I would be one to try to attack. I would work with guys to try to bridge but other than that I was going to just sit in and reserve my energy. The first three laps were the same. A couple of guys got off the front but we brought them back every time. I was climbing well so far and got to the top of the hill in the top five each time. For some reason on the 4th lap I had some problems. Each time up a few guys got dropped and about half way up I thought is was going to be my turn. I really struggled up and when I reached the top I looked back on I was the caboose. I was sucking air hard and I still needed to get over the other little hump before the finish. I barely managed to keep contact and the downhill never felt so good. I pushed hard to get up to Scott and he told me he had the same experience. We decided to sit in and let others do the work until the climb. I wanted to be up front for the final lap so I would not get pinned in on the climb if they pace slowed way down. I think by this time an Olympic Ortho guy had went off the front but no one seemed too worried. Eventually Max from Bikesale took off and did an incredible job bridging the gap. Their teammates did a good job helping them stay away. On the climb on the fifth lap I had recovered and I was once again up near the front and sitting in a good spot. Scott seemed to have as well and was right with me. There was chatter in the field that we needed to put the hammer down now or we wouldn't catch them. Phil form Lenovo took off and the field (what was left of it) was strung out single file and I thought we might have a chance to catch them. They only had a 24 second gap. When Bikesale got to the front the pace slowed down and no one else, including me, wanted to take charge. It looked like we were going to be racing for third. The pace picked up again about 1K from the climb and I was sitting 3rd wheel. We hit the climb at full speed and it was a grinder all the way up. I hit the top sitting first wheel but I didn't really want to be there. I had a hard time getting anyone to take the lead but I was able to slow just enough on the short downhill to drop back to about 7th to 10th wheel. Scott was right behind me. The field started to get jumpy (I love that feeling) and we were all waiting for that first move. I was thinking about trying to surprise people and jump early but didn't think I had the legs for a 300m to 400m all out sprint. I decided to wait. I don't remember who jump first but I was right on it. We flew by the 200m mark and I was feeling it. I though I was on the right wheel but just as I was ready to go full out and come around he sat up for no apparent reason. This caught me off guard as we only had about 30 meters to go. I had to slow just a fraction but then two guys came up on each side of me and I had no where to go. I sat up as well and coasted in for 8th place. Shit happens and I was still happy to be able to get a top 10. Scott got pinned over by the shoulder but still managed to grab 13th. Not a bad day in the 90 degree heat.