April 23, 2017 – Chris Wanley
This week had been physically draining, between the tough workouts, and trying to get enough sleep. The car ride down wasn’t bad, thanks to Brian Lucas’s driving skills and the company of Benny Cook and Thomas Moran (who raced Cat 3 instead of 1/2/3). We were able to get out and stretch the legs a few times during the trip. During those times I realized that my legs didn’t feel as bad as I thought. I had the, “I got this today” feeling back. I ate my usual breakfast, with a little snacking during the trip, followed up with a subway sandwich for my pre-race meal. Once we arrived and got kitted up, I started to roll around where I could given limited time and space. Seemed like I was always rushing no matter how early we left. Ate a powerbar during the warmup and gel for the roll out. Stuck with water for my first bottle.
Starting the race I found the first couple surges very unpleasant, but after a few more my legs woke up. I worked to stay close to the front of the pack as much as possible, while also trying to staying out of the wind. The crosswind was gnarly, and the peloton rode everyone in to the gutter. A few fliers went up the road throughout the early laps. They all seemed to go off easy, but the peloton never lost sight of them.
Shortly after the feed zone there was a right hand turn that went over a few rollers, where momentum seemed to take over and speeds soared. This is where all of the riders off the front would get caught. It wasn’t till after the 2nd lap that things start getting a bit “spicy”. Benny had helped with covering attacks and doing a few digs along with myself. I had bridged a few times to promising breaks, but would see that we were being chased down, so I shutdown the match burning each time. Eventually I got my break. Leading into the climb on the backside that takes you home to the finish line, Benny had covered a move through the little town, but a small group was pulling away from him. He wasn’t able to cover the move, so I moved up and made the little bridge, and kept it going.
We were a group of 5 chasing down two riders off the front. Roadhouse and Petrov were the two man solo, and we were bringing them back. Once we caught them we were a group of 7, which was big, but all of the dominant teams were there. Finally it was a good enough assortment for the teams to shut down the chase. One rider was skipping pulls, tired from bridging to us, but we had all worked to chase. Bissel rider Jonathan and I found this unacceptable, and I pulled a “Glenn” to get him to work or to drop him. What’s a “Glenn?” In buffalo last year Benny and I raced against a Cat. 1 rider out of New Jersey. When someone was skipping pulls he would pull in front of the offending rider during the pace rotation, but let the pace line go. He would let a gap open up and when it was at a decent distance he would snap away and chase down the group. The rider either had to do the same thing or get dropped. So I did that before the descent to let him know you pull through or I will make life hard on you. He didn’t miss a pull again.
With a little encouragement everyone played nice in the pace line, and did their fair share. The crosswind was now far easier due to our echelon formation. On the last lap, Roadhouse did a dig on the first roller going south after the feed zone. Petrov did a pretty good one on the hill. I pushed the pace and did a few attacks when I had some good momentum, but no one got dropped till the last climb. Roadhouse did a dig, but it was Petrov that layed down the hurt. I knew in my head he was going to do something, and I set my gearing to be very responsive. He went and I matched. Another rider did a dig, and it was brought back. Petrov went a second time and he got the gap. It was left to me to bring it back. I did so slowly because I knew I had Roadhouse on my wheel. I didn’t want to burn everyone only to miss his attack off my wheel. At this point there was no one else to worry about. Just before I had Petrov’s wheel Kyle, the Roadhouse rider, attacked and I couldn’t cover. I was however able to still catch Petrov and sprint around Kyle for second.
Overall, I was happy with my effort. Benny was amazing, and I couldn’t have done it without him. Base Media was able to support us again this weekend, and Brian Lucas was awesome for hanging out on the side of the road all day to hand us bottles. For his first time he did an amazing job with the hand offs. I just missed the Big W but I knew that for a moment I had a negative mindset with my performance that almost checked me mentally out of the race. Fortunately, positive thinking turned that around in a flash and I was back in the game for the win. I still needed to be more aggressive and I’ll get better at that as I become more confident in my ability as a racer.