The morning of June the 6th 2015 was warm and humid, with plenty of low, threatening clouds and a slight drizzle or two. The drizzle had let up and the track was dry in time for the cat 4 call to staging a couple of minutes before 9am. After the race officials said their piece (complete with some curt words for some knucklehead juniors who were talking through the whole thing) we were off.
The Walnut hill course is a vague oval, about one mile long, with a very slight rise on the back half, followed by an equally slight downhill right before the finishing straight. The race got off to a slow start, with no early breaks and nobody in the cat 4 peloton exhibiting any real urgency on the front. A few laps in a brief one man attack was quickly reeled in. As the race wore on, the relatively moderate pace led to a bit of nervousness in the peloton. There was a bit of a left-to right wind on the back straight, and with nervous cat 4s and wind, I wanted to be up front the whole time. For most of the race, I stayed in the top ten or so wheels. The few times that I slipped back in the pack, I snuck the match-box open ever so slightly to grab a bunch of positions on the outside.
With 8 or so laps to go, the pace began to heat up. I had been thinking about what my move would be for much of the race, and as the race sped up, I was sure to stay where I wanted to be, in the top ten wheels. With three to go MIT brought three riders to the front. This was good for me. I didn’t have any teammates with me, so I was happy that there was a team controlling the pace and keeping the tempo fast enough to discourage fliers. On the last lap, right after the small rise, the MIT rider on the front pulled off in a less than smooth manner, and this caused an interruption in the tempo. A few riders wanted to seize this opportunity and surged. I was right there with them. Coming into the last corner, I was second wheel. The rider in front of me went early, and I had no choice but to use him as a leadout for the sprint. He blew up, and I was on my own. I was farther from the line than I wanted to be, and I ended up getting passed by two other riders, and hung on for third place. My positioning was pretty good, and my sprint was fast enough to hang on for a podium finish, my first of 2015.