What a difference a week makes. Denise came over with me this time and we camped out under clear skys. It was a total 180 from last week.
I got up early to perform my duties at corner 2. Aaron and I got a couple of chairs and mainly just chilled out in the sun. I say chilled because it wasn't warm out but the sun felt good on the face. No one got hit by a car so I guess we did OK. Back to the parking lot, changed, warmed up, peed a 100 times and rolled to the start. It looked liked another good sized Pro/1/2 field but this time we had eight guys so it would be a whole different dynamic for us.
We were now on the final lap and any time someone jumped they were immidiately hauled back in. With less than nine miles to go it looked like we were in for an all out mass sprint finish. NOT what I wanted. I was leaving for Belgium the next day and getting caught in some crash at the finish wasn't a chance I wanted to take. If I wasn't near the front I was planning on sitting up and watching the fireworks. Soon enough HSP started to organize. I was sure they were trying to help Richter go back to back so it was game on. Once again Lang told me to get to the front and make sure nothing happened. I just got near the front and jumped onto the HSP train.
I was not thinking about sitting up at this point. With about 4K to go we noticed that our lead car was gradually slowing and soon he forced us to slow as well. WTF!! He finally motioned out the window for us to slow down. I figured we were catching another field and the officials were worried that we would catch them before the finish. A few seconds later he stopped dead in the road and ordered us to stop. Again, WTF!! It turned out that the womens Pro/1/2 field had a nasty crash during their finish sprint and gals were all over the road. Wait, that is what I (actually no one does) to get involved with. Since I'd been working hard at the front I found myself lined up in the front row with Lang, David and Brian(HSP) and Logan(Cal Giant). What to do, what to do???
We sat there for a very nervous five or so minutes and we all started talking to the officials about how stupid and dangerous this could potentially be. It was like a tail of two races. An 82 mile warmup and an a 2 mile all out 60 man sprint to the finish. This could get interesting fast. A few minutes later we were told that we were ready to go. I was thinking great, we'll get a half mile neutral roll out and then a 1 1/2 mile race to the finish. That wasn't the case. The lead car took off fast which was actually great. Lang and Logan took off hard. I could hear guys behind still trying to click in. This was going to help string this shit out a bit. HSP was really putting the hammer down and I just sat in at about 5th wheel. We rounded came to the final turn super fast and with 1.5K to go I guess I decided I wasn't going to sit up. We were flying down the home stretch and the 200K mark came up super fast. It was pretty nuts. First we saw a couple of people on the right side of the road motioning to us to move to the left side of the road. And, as we moved left we saw an SUV that was parked and partially in the road. It was all happening so fast and there wasn't much time to think. All I remember hoping this didn't turn bad. Before I could even process what was going on Richter jumped and it was game on. As we were flying down towards the finish I realized that I was going to get a top ten....Then a top five and as soon as I could take another breath I was battling it out for 2nd place (Richter had a nice little gap) and crossed the line at virtually the same time as Brian(Fischer) did. I ended up getting third and was about as happy as I could be. As we rounded the corner I noticed my teammate Alex was right behind me. "Hey, where did you finish?" He was right on my wheel and ended up taking 5th. Nice. To top it off we found out that Mark won the Masters race. Not a bad way to start off a two week vacation!
photos by bill booth