I came into this race hoping for a good result. I was feeling much better in the last week put in some solid rides against some fast dudes.
I rested pretty easy on Saturday, no big activities, except the usual running around with the kids and a morning session in the hills with my kids and one riding on the tag-a-long. (My 7 and 8 year olds wanted to get in shape for summer triathlons so they dragged me out.) The legs felt OK, a bit tired. Not sure if it was still from a couple of hard rides during the week or if it was the ride with my kiddos on Sat.
I still felt confident. I have usually done well at this race. The climbs are short and just long enough for me to power up them and the wind out on the plains is usually a friend to big boys like me. The race is short 50-60 miles and super aggressive. It has always ended in the break winning and everyone knows that. So there are attacks from the start trying to establish the winning break. I have been in the break in years past and I hoped to make it again. We rolled out with the usual aggression, but into a headwind it didn’t seem like anything was going to stick. I sat in the back/middle since I thought the most likely place for the break to go would be after our 180 degree turn since it usually does go there. We hit the turnaround a bit further back then I would have liked, mid pack. Big gaps formed and there was actually a pretty hard chase to the front guys. I ended up having to make up the gap by myself. The legs responded, but it was a bit of a hard effort and I needed a minute to recover. Unfortunately, the winning move attacked during this recovery and no one in front of me went with it. I was stuck out and the 6 guys up the road all had teammates in the smallish pack. I went to try and bridge with no success and then the group settled down fast. The teammates of the guys up the road pretty much sat on the front and controlled the pack. There were 3 of us that tried chasing, but we couldn’t get a rotation going between even the 3 of us since the there were more riders with teammates in the break than not. I knew the race was over at this point, but I felt like racing so I attacked a few times and got OK gaps. But too many folks in the pack had a vested interest in keeping us together. After a while of trying to get something going, we all settled into the race for best of the rest. As a sprinter I was pretty confident that I could win out of the group. I just had to make sure to stick on all the climbs. As we began our last 30 miles I started feeling some softness in my rear tire. I pretty much ignored it, attributing it to change in the road or something. I went another 10 miles thinking I was OK. Then I started realizing that I might actually have a real leak, but a pretty small one. So I hoped it would last till the end. As we rolled through the last 20 miles of the race, a few people tried to attack on the climbs, but most of us were able to close it down. We ended up approaching the last 4 miles in a group of 20 or so. And this is when I started hitting the rim on my rear. I decided to keep going and that I was just going to try and light it up on the last mile from a seated position and hold it as long as I could. But unfortunately with about 2 miles to go I was on the rim and my race was over. My wheel truck didn’t even stop and I got a wheel 3-4 minutes later from another groups car. I ended up rolling in 20 something and having a very anticlimactic race experience. But that is bike racing.
If you want to hear the same story from the perspective of riding in the break, check out Mr. Harding.