I am thinking of a way to preface this race report. I had been looking forward to this race all season because it belongs to a pure climber. However, I had to make a tough decision before the race. On Friday, my senior class went up to Roosevelt lake for the day. I figured it would really tire me out for the race on sunday, but you only get one senior retreat in your entire life. So I went to Roosevelt, and despite my best efforts to not get a sunburn, I came home red as a tomato. It was a choice I made, and I certainly didn't feel happy about it, but I made the decision.
So...the state road race in Hillside, which is near Prescott. It was a fun-filled drive up to Prescott with Dad and Jake, and then a fun trip to dinner with the latter plus my mom and sisters. I got in some fairly decent sleep.
Fast forward to the start of my race. I had 3 teammates: the Marcucci's and Matt Duke. Trisports lined up with 4 riders, including the 800 pound gorilla Mike Radcliff. Carlos O'Brien's also had 4 riders, with Alan Brown as their climber. If you don't believe this race was custom-made for a climber, check out the profile.
Richard Hurst attacked from the start. Undoubtedly, he was trying to take the pressure of his teammate, Alex Strickland. My teammates helped set a tempo and bring Richard back, but he immediately attacked again with a Bikehaus rider and an Echelon rider. The pack was content to let them dangle about a minute in front for the next 30 miles. The first climb took 5-10 minutes. None of the climbers wanted to come out and play, and I didn't want to be the first. It was an easy climb for me, but a couple of people got popped as Team Colleen rode a steady tempo.
Matt Jones from U of A pulled a lot. Team Colleen set the pace. My teammates set some of the pace. No one from Carlos O'Briens did any work. Josh did work for Trisports. This one unattached guy did a lot of work. 30 miles into it, Stephen flatted. 5 miles later, we caught the breakaway going through a roller section. It was at this point that I knew I was going to run out of water. I had figured that 68 ounces of water/fuel would be sufficient. For that reason, I didn't plan on a feed, and therefore didn't get a feed. Perhaps I didn't count on the temperature to get into the 90s.
At mile 40, Matt Duke slid off the front. Stephen (who had caught the group after his flat) set a false tempo as the field chatted nonchalantly. Matt was out of sight in a minute. We were now racing for Matt. He had 10 miles of flat to go before ascending a 6-7 mile climb to the finish. If he had a 2 minute gap going into the mountains, he had a chance of holding off the climbers. Stephen and I policed the field, and then Stephen flatted again. I tagged myself onto some breakaway attempts on this long downhill stretch. It was pretty exhilarating.
Unfortunately, when we hit the climb with 10 miles left Matt was just dangling in front. Radcliff stood up to accelerate, but he flatted. That seemed providential at the time. Ironically, in Mike's absence, his teammate Christian Maldonado destroyed the field with an unbelievably hard pace up the climb. The field literally went from 25 to 7 in two minutes. This was an unbelievably painful suffering. I wanted to get dropped, I wanted to give up. It just hurt so bad. But then I realized that I actually didn't want to get dropped; I actually wanted to hang on and try to win the race. So I survived that climb. At the top, Mike caught on with his teammate Eric. And then there were 9. We hit the last climb, and I died a metaphorical death. Loren from Webop rode a steady tempo that made me want to whimper and cringe at his feet. I suffered a lot to stay in the group. Alex, Eric, and Alan both got popped at the base. Then I got popped. I got popped big time. Alan passed me and gave me a friendly push forward. I worked with him for a tiny bit, but couldn't keep up. Then Alex caught up to me; I tried to work with him, but I gapped him. Then Eric caught me, and the two of us were able to crawl to the top together. We were riding for 10th place. I didn't know we were on the last climb, so I didn't give a thought about making a last ditch effort to drop Eric. The next thing I knew we had 1 kilometer to go to the finish. I gave it a little bit of a surge and got zero separation. with 400 meters to go, we hit the part of the course I was least suited to: a downhill sprint. I really really didn't want to get beat. Eric lead it out. It was really fast, but I felt really determined. I started to pass on the left side, but Eric veered to the left. He moved to the right, and I tried again, but got the door shut on me again. The last thing I wanted to do was get relegated for crossing the yellow line. Eric took 10th place. I was slightly annoyed, but it wasn't a big deal. We were both too exhausted to think at that point.
I was satisfied in the fact that I hadn't expected place as high as 11th. The sunburn pretty much killed me, poor hydration didn't help either. I don't like the heat, but then again, who does?
It was an epic win for Mike Radcliff. I give you kudos, Mike.
My dad got massive massive cramps. Jake got popped. Phil Maxwell suffered a ridiculous rear derailleur malfunction. Goran, Kenny, and Taylor missed their start time by 7 minutes. It just goes to show you that you have to cope with disappointment. Quite honestly, the disappointment is much more common than the accomplishment. I am thankful I was able to race my bike yesterday. I'm thankful God kept me safe and let me ride much faster than I thought I would. I'm thankful to Brian, Stephen, and Matt for helping me so much. All in all, I'm very thankful and happy to be racing again. I love the community.