By the middle of the week I had pretty much lost my limp but still had some tightness. I was not 100% but felt pretty strong on the bike. There was no way anything was going to keep me away from Boston Harbor. I had to go back there and confront the demons from last year. With 200m to go I was sitting on right on Alex's(Garage) wheel when he made the race winning move. I'm not sure if I would have been about to come around him but I was definitely going to have a great finish. With about 50 meters to go I was making my move when all of a sudden bikes were flying everywhere and I knew I was not going to make it through. I blew into a downed rider while going 35+mph.......DONE!!
this picture is from about 2 seconds before the big pile up last year.
I hadn't thought about it much but when we drove by the start/finish everything seemed to be in slow motion as I looked over towards the area where my body finally ended up near the ditch. I got a little chill.
There were only six guys who pre-registered for the race. I still didn't feel healthy enough to want to race with the 1/2's but if there were less than 10 I was going to wait and race with them in the afternoon. I asked how many Masters 1/2 guys were here and she told me there were already 20+ signed in. Cool....it was still early so we should have 30+ by race time. I looked around the parking lot and noticed a ton of strong guys that were here a little too early for the 1/2 race. I knew we would be in for a battle.
I took my time getting dressed and then headed out on the road to warm up. I should have warmed up with someone else. My brain started to wonder and I was thinking way too much about last year's crash. Luckily, Jill was coming by in the opposite direction and she told me she just finished second. Yeah!! My wondering thoughts switched to something else. I rolled to the start and as usually, KR and Garage each had a handful of strong guys ready to dish out the pain. I figured it would be business as usual and KR would try to keep it all together and then lead out Mike H. at the finish. Garage would continually throw guys off the front until something stuck. since it was only a 36 mile circuit race. I decided that I was going to punish myself and go with any and all early attacks that tried to go. I was not going to miss out.
Each lap was 6 miles long. We were circling the course six times. There was nothing really special about the course. There was a downhill section right after the start, a short incline before a long, flat section on the back side. After turn 4 there was another short, fast downhill section that lead to a short, "punchy" climb(that was for you Prudog) that led us to the home stretch. It was a long straight section that was still slightly uphill that eventually leveled to an exiting super fast finish.
We rolled off and I found myself up in the front row just chatting with Tom(Garage). No one was in a hurry to do anything. Sweet!!! Maybe we could get a nice, slow warm up lap in.....NOT. As soon as we hit the first short incline the attacks started. I talked to Alex(Garage) about their plan and I decided I would work with them. I was going to attack with Alex. We got in a couple more small breaks but by the time lap one was in the books we were all together. I looked at my Garmin and realized our first lap was super fast. This was going to be an old fashioned shoot out.
Lap two started off in the same fashion. As soon as we reached the short incline guys jumped. The tempo was high but no one was getting away. We took the hard right that put us on the back side of the course and something weird happened. I think it was Mike(KR) that accelerated but not in all out attack mode. I saw Nikos(Garage) and Alex roll in behind him. I jumped on. It just felt like someone was not liking the pace and wanted to light a fire and string out the pack. I took a quick look back and WTF!! we had a gap. There were twelve of us. A few of us started yelling that we had a gap and we tried to get organized.....NOT. This is where I thought it was a little strange. We were not working together but our gap was growing. We would start a rolling pace line but it would end after a few riders pulled through. We tried a couple more times before we finally got something going. I'm not sure if it was because a few guys jumped on that really didn't want to give it a go or if someone was hoping certain teammates would bridge up to us. What ever!! After we finally got our shit together we really started to develop a gap. Now we're talking!! I knew this could be the start of something good. Garage and Olympia Ortho both had two in the break along with Mike(KR). They all had guys in the pack that would give it up to help keep us away.
The race started to get tough. Twelve was a good number start with but it soon became apparent that some of the guys were not doing their share of the work. We were not free and clear yet and Mike started yelling at guys to quit sitting on the back and to do some work. I was not liking it either and each time it was my turn to pull I stepped it up a bit in hopes of shedding some guys. One by one guys started to drop off. About half way through the race we started to slow down again. I still wasn't sure we had a winning gap yet so I decided to blow off the front. I started to pull away and got a nice little gap. There were a bunch of strong guys in this break so I'm sure they were just letting me sit out there but I didn't care. I was feeling good and at least this would drive the pace up again. I hit the "Punchy" climb before the finish and drove up as hard as I could and continued leading all the way to the finish. I looked back and saw that they were finally giving chase so I sat up just before the downhill section. I looked back and took count. There were only seven of us left. Now we're talking.
The last two laps were both fun and hard. Alex rode up to me and told me that if we couldn't get rid of Mike before the last climb his sprint would do us in. We took a couple of diggers to see if we could drop any more guys.....NO DICE. We had some strong hombres left in this break and I was sure no one else was going to back down.
We got the bell for the final lap and I now knew this was where the winner was going to come from. I figured we would keep working together for a while before becoming enemies but I was wrong. Mike put in several hard attacks that finally put my calf in the hurt locker. I struggled to hang on. I managed to keep grabbing a wheel and was able to recover. I was a little worried that I wasn't going to finish if my calf started to hurt more. I decided that I was not going to start any attacks and just do what I could to NOT get dropped. Other than my calf hurting I was feeling really good but didn't know what I was going to be able to do at the finish. My new goal was to NOT get 7th place. Half way through the final lap the cat and mouse games really started. Guys constantly attacked off the front. As soon as we brought them back another would go. The constant, quick accelerations were hard on the calf but I was able to hang. We finally reached the climb for the last time and we slowed up a bit. I was the last one in line as we headed up. Nikos accelerated but we were all able to match his effort. We crested and our pace slowed up again as we hit the homestretch. The 1K mark came and went and no one went. The 200m marker was set back to 350m to give us more full road to work with for the sprint. I was still sitting 7th wheel but as we hit 350m I started to move up. I could see the tent at the finish line and I wanted to go but I waited. I don't think the sprint started until about 100m out. Mike(KR) went and the game was on. With about 10m to go I realized that Mike had the win but 2nd place was still very much up for grabs. Marcus(Apex) Erik(Olympia Ortho) and I got a small gap on the rest of the field and were neck and neck. I gave it everything I had and Marcus just nipped me at the line and I barely edged out Erik for third. It was an awesome finish to a great race. The best part of the day was seeing my teammate Richie win by a huge gap in the Masters 4/5 race. It was his second win in a row. The boy is on fire!! I found out later that Sarah took first in the women's 3 race. It was a great day all around for the green and black.