Updated: Apr 15, 2020
I'm rollin hard into the final 11 miles of my last NorCal / Nevada road race of the season. Racing as a Cat 5, I learned some hard lessons on the road that season. I had been worked over quite a few times and had escaped several vicious crashes with all of my skin intact. I had been consistent all year and with the points earned from my top 8 finishes so far, I would be able to upgrade to Cat 4. Things would be a little safer in that group and slightly more organized (NOT). Still, it sounded good and I was enjoying my progress.
I am now roughly 5 miles out from the finish on this brutal rolling course with a heavy crosswind. I was in what they call “ No Man’s Land." Popped off (chasing) the lead group, but alone in front of the second race group on the road. Just ahead, I could see the back of the front group but I was unable to bridge the gap. I was stuck but I knew if I was caught by the second group my odds of a better place would go down. I was clinging to the goal of a top-10 finish - the net points earned would allow me enough points to upgrade.
Rounding the bend to the line I could see the riders sitting 8th, 9th and 10th place. I only needed one of ‘em. I pushed to catch and not be caught. Sure enough, two racers at the back of the lead group start to fade as the line comes… the rider in 10th place falls off completely.
I had been victimized in previous races and now I was looking for payback (and an upgrade). The sun placed long shadows on the right side of the road, the wind was right to left so I approached outside shade on the left side. I came silent, hard and fast with full pedal strokes to quiet my freewheel. Right when he sensed something coming I was already at speed coming into him just enough to catch a slight draft and extend to a gap on the left. Textbook. I glanced back right and the fight had left him. I could see the line and started to party - HELL YEAH!!!!
Just before the line, I sensed something on MY left side……….11th place - no favors.