Jeremiah, Matt and I rolled out late Friday from the city to stay the night in Turlock (wtf?!) before Snelling Saturday morning. Somehow we made it through the night with our neighbors fighting and meth heads scratching at our windows. We were up and out at 6:30am for the short drive over to Snelling. Luckily this year was much warmer at a blistering high 40 something (last year when I got there, there was ice on the road and all the puddles in the park were frozen). We reg’d and went for a quick warm up spin. We got back to the parking lot as the E4s were staging, so I swooped right in front next to the Webcor/AVDT mass, a few BBC riders, and Gabe (Freewheel-BRITEsport).
We had a few miles of motor pacing out to the course and somehow Greg, Matt, and I ended up right at the front of the entire E4 pack. The ref kept speed checking us and Matt was stuck in first wheel for those first few miles out to the course. When the race started my plan was to sit in and see how the pack moved. I had Taylor (Team Mike’s Bikes) and Isaac (Dolce Vita Cycling) in my sites as well. To say the wind was brutal would be an understatement. If you were exposed at the front or wrong side of the echelon, you were putting in work. On the backside of the first lap I woke up and saw that about 60 riders were ahead of me, and not many were behind me. Time to start moving. By the time we hit the line for the first time I was mid pack and feeling comfortable. I’d picked my positions for each stretch of road to keep myself out of the wind. On the quick, downhill right then left on the front side I heard Jeremiah yell at me to move up the right. Coming off my momentum into the left I pulled to the front and sat in next to Jonathan (Third Pillar), Taylor, Isaac and a bunch of others. This is were I would be for the rest of the race…almost.
The pace picked up noticeably across the board. The front group was attacking every roller and barely letting up on the “flats.” I was burning matches right and left to stay on. At one point Nick (BBC) came up to me and said, “We made the cut.” I looked back and saw NOBODY. The peloton wasn’t even in sight. I didn’t know we were breaking, I was focused too much on staying in the lead group. At this point everything becomes a bit hazy. The pace held, if not increased as we went on. I glanced at my computer a few times and never saw a power zone below 6. Every time I passed the line I saw another one of my teammates sitting down and yelling at me. This one was really taking a toll on everyone. Coming into the final lap the lead group attacked hard to the first right and climb before the long, windy flat. I held on for another half a lap, but couldn’t hang to the finish. As I slowly faded into the back of the lead group I gave Jonathan my second water bottle with a good luck (I don’t know if I was able to form the words at that point, but I thought it). I spun the longest, windiest few miles in recent memory by myself. Nobody passed me for a full 10 minutes…a splintered group of Webcor/AVDT and stragglers who had been relentlessly chasing since lap 2, trying to close a gap of who knows how many minutes (props, Jeremiah). I finished. That’s all that mattered at that point.
This was probably the hardest road race I’ve done to date, but motivating for what the rest of the season has to offer.
Garmin data. (Lap 4)