A few years ago the Ravensdale was my first race in the Pro/1/2 field. I remember how nervous I was when I rolled up to the line. I was the only guy on my team in the field that day and somewhere in the parking lot my confidence fell out of my jersey pocket. All I planned (hoped) to do was sit in and try to not get dropped. That's not a race strategy anyone would hand out but it was what I was going with. As soon as we were let go instinct took over and I just raced. I attacked, I bridged, I suffered and soon enough I realized I could race with these guys. I think I finished just out of the top 10 and felt like I was the shiz. Of course I wasn't but I was as happy as if I'd won the damn thing. Anyway, it's a race I'll never forget.
Skip forward a few years and it's not the same. The butterflies were still there but I was surrounded by great teammates, the weather was awesome and I was ready to take out some aggression. I won't go into that now but I had a little incident with my RV on the way to the race.
I was lined up with teammates Kyle, Lang, Jason, Steve, Doug and Zach. We had this race highlighted on the calendar and really wanted to get someone on the podium.
The course a 9 mile, clockwise loop. It's mostly flat to rolling but has nice stair step climb to the finish. In the past the finish has been at the top of the last step but this year it was moved further down the road after it leveled off a bit. It could give some guys a chance (maybe) to catch back on and be in the mix for what should be a faster finish.
If there is one thing you can guarantee in a Pro/1/2 race it's that once the neutral roll out ends the attacks start. Getting left out of a break was not an option, getting two in was the plan. Sure enough after a couple short lived breaks we got Doug and Lang into one that looked promising. It was a good sized, well represented group. The rest of us just stayed out of the wind and kept an eye on the rest of the field. After a while I really thought it was a done deal but that wasn't the case.
The pack eventually pulled them back and it was time to reassemble and start the whole process over again. All of us joined in and took turns going off the front. We were on a flat section on the back side when I decided to to go when to others jumped. It was a fast section so I dropped into my 53X11 to try to keep anyone else from hitching a ride. About the time I was giving it full torque my chain decided to roll off my big ring to the outside. The violent release almost threw me over my bars. After shitting my pants I was able to pedal the chain back on. I didn't think much of it at the time and just figured it was one of those things that happen every blue moon. I looked back and waited for the pack to catch up.
Jason was riding possessed and I think he got in the next break. After that came back he soloed off the front a couple of times and managed to get nice sized gaps. He stayed away for a good chunk of time and forced other teams had to waste energy pulling him back while we sat in. Once he was brought back the second time I took a suicide mission off the front and managed to get a nice gap. I held it until about halfway up the climb before getting caught.
This kept going on for the next couple of laps but buy the time we started the final lap we were all together. More attacks were made but guys were quick to respond and nothing stayed away for longer than a few seconds. I started to realize that this was going to come down to a mass sprint finish.
The last lap seemed super fast and the constant surges were getting tough on the legs. I didn't know how the final trip up the hill would go but I forced myself to the front so I would at least have a chance if anyone attacked hard. It wasn't long before we reached right hand turn that lead us to the climb for the final time. It was pretty evident that HSP was going to try to take charge. They were all moving to the front of the pack. Richter wasn't racing so it looked like Brian might be the guy there would try to setup. We reached the climb and I found that I still had good legs and quickly moved to the front. The pace was semi hard at the start but HSP soon ramped it up and guys started to drop off one by one. When the climb leveled off it was game on and Aaron(HSP) took reigns at the front. Brian was locked on Aaron's wheel and Kyle was right on Brian. I was sitting in pretty good position just behind Kyle and was ready for the sprint. It looked like both Kyle and Brian jumped right at the same time. I decided to move off and go left......Doink!! Just as I put full torque on the cranks my f'ing chain rolled off again. My left knee drove hard into my bars and for a second I though I was going to hit the deck. I managed to stay up and tried to hold my line. It seemed like it took forever but I was able to pedal the chain back on. I felt the rush of guys flying by me. All I could do was coast in. I was actually surprised to find out I still managed to finish 8th. Brian took the win and Kyle came in a solid 2nd. I wish I could get that one back again. I would have at least like to have been able to finish going full power. Needless to say I'm taking measures to make sure that doesn't happen again.