This was a really exciting race for me. Not only did I get to spend some more time in California with my team, but I also got to race in my third big race of the season. Also, I had no idea what to expect out of myself going into this race, so instead of shooting for a top 5, 3, or whatever, I decided I was going to just race how I saw fit.
During my preride laps, I found that I felt very strong on the climbs and really comfortable in the saddle. This gave me a ton of confidence in myself and hope for a great race.
On race day morning, I woke up feeling incredibly excited for my race. So excited even, that when I went to move the sawhorse that was saving the team's parking spot at the venue, I picked it up so fast that it sliced my index finger through the nail about 2 millimeters deep. Having already sliced part of that same finger off a couple of years ago in an accident involving a bike rotor and a bike stand, the injury really didn't bother me. So, after getting the cut cleaned and bandaged, I went off to do my warm-up.
After completing my warm-up, I headed over to staging and waited for my class to be ready to start. Because of my two top five finishes at Bonelli #1 and Fontana, I got a call-up to the front row for the start. Instead of doing my usual "all out" start for the first 10 seconds, I decided to change things up a bit and not even try to be the first person to the first climb.
Off the line I still ended up being first, but allowed myself to get passed and hopped on the wheel of the second rider who passed me. On the road, I fell back to 8th trying to conserve energy for the first climb of the race. By the time we reached that climb, I felt amazing and shot up to 4th with ease, and settled onto third's wheel. For the rest of the first lap, and a quarter of the way through the second, I hung on to the back of the lead guys and did as little work as I could. An unfortunate slide-out on an off-camber turn threw me way back to 6th, well behind 5th and the rest of my competitors. For the rest of the second lap I spent my time hammering all out, trying to catch back up to the lead group. An unintended side effect was that I also ended up pulling one of my competitors who got dropped.
Coming across the start/finish line going into my last lap I knew I had used too much energy on the chase and had to slow down the pace for the first quarter of the lap. Unfortunately for me, this meant that the guy I had pulled was able to get a couple of good attacks on me and rode away before I could get the energy to chase him down. For the remainder of the race, I just gave it everything I had to catch back up to the top guys. When I came across the line for my finish, I had placed third.
|Check out that big smile. I was so excited!|