Denise and I were on our first big road trip in the new RV. The biginning of the adventure took us through Spokane so I decided to make a quck in Spangle, WA?? to take on the East Side crew in the Liberty Road Race. The weather was incredible with the temp pushing 80. I was getting emails from teammates about the raining weather on the West side so I was pretty happy. The race venue was somwhere South of Spokane, literally in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived I found Brian S.(Audi) and we warmed up out on the course. I love racing in the Palouse. The roads are in great condition with no traffic. The old farm houses set on the rolling hills of golden wheat make for great scenery. I was racing in the Pro/1/2 field and we were combined with the Cat 3's but were being scored seperately. I was happy about that becuase I was the only West sider in my field but along with Brian, his teammate Ted, and Ross(Old Town) were there racing 3's so I had some familier faces to race with. We were racing two laps on a 30 mile, rolling hill course with a hilltop finish.
With five minutes until our start time I jumped on my bike and started to head over...CRAP! Rear tubie goes completely flat. I had a panic moment but was able to get a spare in time for the start. I guess that's better than flatting on the course. A lot of Spokane's big hitters were there. I hadn't raced against most of them but knew their names. I still have a Cat 3 WSBA number so I wondered if most of the 1/2 guys would even know I was racing against them. Maybe I could sneak off the front without them responding?? We started out at a pretty mello pace but as soon as we hit the first short climb the attacks started. I jumped into the first two but we were brough back quickly. It was mostly the 1/2 guys starting the breaks but it was the 3's that kept responding?? I wanted to stay near the front so I could easily respond. Another one went and I jumped on again. The 3's brought us back right away, again. The next one went and I decided I needed a quick break so I didn't go. I figured the 3's would work to bring them back again but they didn't. Hmmm... I saw that Michael Emde went with the two other guys and I know he is super strong. I decided I needed to bridge up but when I went the 3's closed in on me fast. I tried to keep it going but they shut it down. All three guys in the break had teammates in the field as well and as soon as I jumped again I realized I was going to do this on my own. I pulled by myself for a while but finally ran out of gas and had to slide back in. I waited a few minutes and jumped again. Alan(SVR) led the field to pull me back. Why did he care if I got away. There were no 3's in the break and he had no teammates up there??? Soon enough the three got a sizable gap. I did not want to let them go so I kept going to the front to get things moving. I was doing way too much work up there on the first lap but I didn't care. Alan kept trading pulls with me and did nice, long, strong pulls when up front. I still couldn't figure out what he was up to. He worked is ass off to bring me back but now was working super hard with me to try to bring the break back??? Soon Brian(Audi), Ted(Audi) and Ross(Old Town) were working with us and we started to bring back the leaders. No one else did a thing. I know that Emde, Vertical Earth and The Bike Hub guys were not going to help but the others were just sitting back doing nothing. The wind was picking up and we needed all the help we could get.
By the time we finished lap one the leaders had developed a 1 minute gap. We had never lost site of them and I knew we could catch them if we worked together. Their lead would yo-yo between 45 seconds and 1:20 but never went much beyond that. When we hit the first climb on the second lap I could feel the affects of the work I did on lap one. I labored up the hill near the back of the field. I was having to work hard on the downhill section to just hang on. I decided I wasn't going to attack for a while but kept trading pulls with Alan, Brian, Ted and Ross. Travis(Hammer) started to work with us and again, I thought we might have a chance to bring back the break. I started feeling better and decided I was going to attack again with 15 miles to go. I went hard but again Alan responded and helped bring me back. Right after that another Cat 1/2 guy took off. No one responded and he got a gap. WTF!! He was going hard and was getting away. I waited for someone else to respond but no one did. Once again I found myself up front leading the chase. We finally brought him back and the pace slowed again. The group finally realized that the leaders were going to hold their gap and win this. I was now in the middle of what was now the battle for the Cat 3 race but no one seemed to want to take a chance and go off the front. Jeff(Emde) another Cat 1/2 took of and no one jumped. Sh*t, what was going on. I waited for someone else to lead teh charge but no one did. I took off and Alan was right on me. I finally looked over and asked why the F do you keep chasing me down while letting other guys go. He then asked my why I kept jumping to try to bridge to chase down the Pro/1/2 guys when we were not even racing against them....Light Bulb on!! None of the Spokane area guys knew I had upgraded and since I still had a Cat 3 number they were responding to my attacks so I wouldn't get away from the 3's. My thought of sneaking in with the 1/2's not knowing I was in their field back fired. Everyone thought I was a 3. It all made sence now..... IDIOT!!!
We brought Jeff back and I decided that now that everyone knew what was what I was going to attack with about six miles to go. I jumped and quickly got a gap. The wind had picked up and it was super hard. The group finally responded and I was brought back after a few minutes.....Matches were burned. Now I was worried I would not have anything left for the hillclimb finish. I settled back in to try to recover and another 1/2 jumped off the front. He got a gap about the size of mine but no one tried to bring him back. It was now apparent the three up front were going to take the race and I couldn't just let another guy go. I waited until we had about four miles to go and decided I had to pick up the pace. I moved to the front and started to hammer it. I strung out the field and after about 40 seconds I flicked my elbo to try to get someone to go by.....NO one did. Crap, I kept it up for another 40 seconds and tried again....No one. I kept pushing and I finally hauled him in with no help from anyone. We saw the 3k marker ahead and the climb to the finish. It looked a lot steeper for some reason. The road went up and down for couple of K and finished and a gradual climb. Things started getting tence and everyone was jocking for position. I worked hard to hold a spot on the front row and checked to see who was looking strong. In the 1/2 field the only guy I knew was Travis. I know he can finish strong on hillclimb finishes so I kept my eye on him. If he went I was going to be on his wheel. I wasn't surprised when he jumped but was a little surprised that he did it with about 1k to go. Here we go. I jumped right on his wheel. He was flying. We were going up hill in the big ring doing 20+ mph. No one was making a move to go around him. I saw the 200m marker coming up. My legs were hurting but after all this I was not going to give up. Shawn(Vertical Earth) and I jumped at the exact same time and we were in a drag race to the finish. He just nipped me at the line to take 4th. With all the work I'd done up front I was extremelty happy to still have gas in the tank to sprint it out uphill and still grab a top 5. Alan took the Cat 3 race with a really strong finish.