I lined up with Kolie and Dan and 97 of our closest friends for 40 miles of fun at the Sterling Classic on Saturday May 11th. The rain in the forecast never really materialized, so we were didn’t have to fight that battle as well. The loop is a pretty simple 8 mile loop, with about 5 miles of rollers followed by 3 miles of flat, exposed highway riding. Immediately after the highway section is a short steep climb up to the finish, which continues onto a long almost false flat after you cross the line.
As the race started, I found myself far towards the back, maybe 60th wheel despite my best efforts to line up early. I spun up the finish line climb, hung out through the rollers, and was finally able to move up to 10th or so after the turn onto the highway. Who would’ve though I would have the easiest time passing people on the flat section…
Shortly after we wrapped up our first lap, Dan attacked like a beast out of hell. A couple guys chased, while I sat at the front pedaling tempo. A couple more guys went, and I jumped on with them. A small group of us got together and kept the pace high for a solid lap, but couldn’t get away from the bunch. We ended up dismantling the latter half of the pack, but still had a big group of 60 or so hanging steady.
The next couple laps were sort of a blur – I did a fairly good job of keep my position up towards the front. Dan attacked another time, and I sat at the front going tempo, pleased to hear someone behind me say, in a tone of some urgency, “he’s not going work, go around him!”.
Coming into the final lap, I knew position into the final corner was going to be everything. I stayed towards the front through most of the rollers, and watched Dan attack (again) as we turned onto the highway, into a substantial headwind. It was not meant to be, as the pack let him dangle for a little while, then scooped him up in the steady march towards the finish. This was a somewhat hair-raising stretch for me; everyone wanted to be near the front for the finish, but nobody wanted to be at the front in the wind. We bunched up real tight like, and there was much jostling. I hung out as best I could; got pushed back to 45th, and moved up to 30th or so by the time we hit the climb. It wasn’t enough. I witnessed a crash to my left, but powered past it, yelling at two slowpokes in front of me, converging together, to “Keep going!”. They immediately diverged and I powered past them for 20th, just barely missing out on nipping a couple guys for 18th.
Not the result we were hoping for, but I had a lot of fun working with Dan to try to make something happen. We definitely made arace of it.