Enough of this silly time trial stuff. It's time to go fist to cuffs with some of my best friends.....Off the bike of course. I'd won Mason #1 the last two years and really felt we could put Garage on the top step again this year. With the newly acquired Dave Hecht lining up with us we were definitely ready for battle. If we didn't ride fast at least would look fast. We just got our newly designed kits and everyone in our vehicle was showing off brand new deep dish carbon hoops.
I wasn't sure what was going on as we crossed over the Narrows Bridge. There was no rain, clouds or fog in any direction. The morning racers were probably freezing their asses off but it was starting to warm nicely. Definitely not what we're use to for early March races.
We had seven guys lining up for the Masters 1/2/3 race and hoped to shake things up right from the gun. The course is a 12 mile loop with some rollers. We were doing 5 laps for a total of 60 miles.
We took off at about 1:10PM and as soon as we hit turn one we were let loose. This has the longest climb on the course and PruDog(KR) decided to get things going and jumped. We responded and after that kept throwing guys off the front. Aaron Levin(Peterson Cycles) was definitely not going to miss any breaks and responded to every attack. . I think we were only about 5 miles in when Dave attacked hard. He was quickly joined by Nikos, Rick(Fischer Plumbing), Randy(KR) and Aaron. We let them get a small lead before I decided to see if I could accelerate really hard and bridge up. I looked back and as soon realized no one was on my tail I put my head down and closed the gap. A few moments later I looked back and saw that Mike(Bikesale) was coming up solo as well. I was actually surprised that no one had tried to jump on his wheel either. As soon as we got organized our gap started to grow. We still had four guys in the main pack that would help disrupt any organized attempts to bring us back. OK, another year of having to try to hold a break for 55 miles. This is bike racing!!
Everyone was working hard as we started the 2nd lap. I don't remember getting any indication of how big of a gap we had. I couldn't see anyone behind us after we reached the top of the climb so I figured we at least had a minute. Just before we reached corner three our lead car held out his fingers, letting us know that we had a 1:20 gap on the field. OK, lets do this. By the time we started lap three we had added another 40 seconds.
Now it was time to see if we could increase our odds. Our main worry was that if we came to the line with Aaron it would be hard to beat him in a drag race to the finish. We started attacking again and Aaron was always the first to jump to get on on wheel. He even attacked a few times on this lap. Hopefully we all this would tire him out. I think this was the point where Rick and Mike started to miss pa pull here and there but Randy still looked strong. Mike rode up to me and told me that he was hurting and was going to try to hang on but wouldn't contest the win. He had been battling an illness for a while and was just doing what he could to help out. I can't remember when it was but Rick, who had already raced in the morning finally gave in a dropped off. It was now just six of us left. Mike was actually doing a lot more work than I thought he would and it was much appreciated. By the time we finished lap three we had a six minute gap. The winner was going to come this group!
As we started the climb moved to the front and accelerated hard up the hill. I know I was starting to feel the efforts of this break but we really needed to get rid of Aaron or somehow isolate him alone with the three of us. No one dropped. We tried to decide what else we could throw at Aaron since our constant attacks were not fazing him. It didn't seem like Mike or Randy were up for helping Aaron much but they did work to bring any attacks back. I'm not sure what else we could have done. At the end of lap four we had over an eight minute gap.
With such a big lead we knew we had time to play around. I know my legs were starting to feel the burn and wasn't sure what I'd have left for the the last 10 miles. We kept mounting short attacks and Aaron still responded to all of them. Mike and Randy had been working all day to bring things back. Finally Dave attacked and of course Aaron got right on his wheel. Any time one of us got off the front with Aaron, Mike and Randy worked to bring us back. This time the two got further up the road then any of the previous attacks. This time Mike and Randy did nothing. As soon as they got a nice little lead I put in another big dig to see if we get a two on one thing going against Aaron. Randy jumped on my wheel so I sat up and slowed to a crawl. He sat up behind me and just let me soft pedal. We slowed to about 18 mph and watched the two move farther up the road. Nikos then put in a move and sure enough, Randy jumped on. Mike and I settled in behind and soon enough we slowed down below 20mph. I minute or so later I started to go again but Randy and Mike jumped on and I shut it down. Nikos and I decided to just stay put after that . After a few minutes Mike put his head down and gave put in a giant effort. Randy jumped on and we fell in behind. He flicked his elbow but Randy didn't pull through. I imagine he was hurting but I couldn't tell by the look on his face. Dave and Aaron disappeared up the road. Nikos and I sat up and again let the pace drop below 20 mph. No one would come through and I sat on the front for a good 2 or three miles. I was totally happy with that.
With about three miles to go it was evident that no one Mike and Randy d not be able to do anything pull Dave and Aaron in. I was just hoping Dave could somehow drop Aaron before the sprint finish. With about three miles to go Nikos decided to jump just to see what would happen and sure enough no one responded. After a minute or so Mike did put in another big effort and I just jumped on the back for the ride. He tried to waive Randy through again but there was no response. Mike shrugged his shoulders and pretty much threw in the towel.
Nikos had about a 20 second gap when Randy finally decided to come to the front and give it one last shot. It didn't last long and I soon realized that Nikos was going to coast in for third place. I sat on the front the rest of the way. I wasn't working at all. I finally realized that we had been going so slow for so long that I was worried that if a few guys in the pack go motivated they might actually catch us. Once I knew we wouldn't catch Nikos I picked up the pace. sprint but after towing Randy for most of the lap I didn't want him to come around me and take 4th. When I realized that we wouldn't catch Nikos I picked up the pace just a bit. Soon enough I saw the old Italian flag for the last time and knew we just had over 1K to go. We hit the 1K to go marker and I started to think what I could do to shake the two of them. I didn't want to go early so I decided I would hug the yellow line because I could see their shadows on my right. Hopefully I'd be ready if one of them decided to jump. With about 400 meters to go Mike took off hard. I couldn't get Randy to come around me so I shot up and settled in behind Mike. Mike went super hard and at about the 250 meter mark he pull off. I waited for Randy to jump. If he didn't make a move before the 200 meter marker I was just going to put my head down and hope for the best. I really didn't want him to come around me.
I kept waiting for him to slingshot around me but pretty soon I realized that wasn't going to happen. I managed to hold him off and sailed across the line for 4th. Nikos was third and it took us a few minutes to find out that Aaron did take Dave at the line. Shit! We had three of us in a six man break and could only mange 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Kudos to Aaron for doing what he needed to do to take the win. We ended up with a 10:39 gap on the main pack. Thanks to Randy and Mike for gutting it out with us. Thanks to my teammates who helped us keep that lead.