Leading up to the TdC, I wasn't sure which race I was going to do: Cat 4 or 40+. In the past couple of 40+ races, I've placed better and felt more comfortable than how I've done in this season's worth of Cat 4 races. I finally decided to do the Cat4 race with my teammate Kevin Young (17 yr super strong rider) and also because the times for the Cat 4 race would me to get home Sunday mid-late afternoon.
Bottom line, this was the hardest weekend of racing I've had all season.
The pace was never totally out of control, not on the flats, nor the climbs. But, it amazed me how many riders sounded like they were ready to pop during the climb or during the faster false flat sections where we would be cruising along at 27-30 mph.
Leading into the last turn I was in the back, and the pack slowed up a lot as the climb to the finish started. The motorcycle guy told us we could take the lane, and I took full advantage of this since this opportunity to move quickly up the left side up to the front group of 5-6 riders that had just started to accelerate. I was able to stay with this group but as the road flattened out I realized I was not in my big ring and the time it took to get into it, I was quickly getting passed by a couple riders heading into the finish. I finished 11th. Should have done better but was in the wrong gear heading into the finish line.
I remember the last couple of miles passing a bunch of Amish families walking on the side of the
road. And I was thinking to myself that the Amish were looking at me and thinking "what is that? Why is that dufous in a zebra suit working so hard riding his bike with his tongue hanging out. He should be spending all that energy doing something constructive like mowing the grass, painting the fences, cutting the corn fields, feeding the animals." I remember going past these families grunting for as much air as I could get, had my mouth wide open. I was in such pain it just didn't hurt anymore.
And, Steven Black was relentless. I think he attacked the hill on every lap, at least it seemed like the announcer was calling his name everytime we went past the finish line. Man, that 16 yr old is strong.
As usually, I attacked about 2 laps too earlier. With 4 laps to go, I was able to move up to the front on the climb and since my legs felt really good, I floored it for a lap or so. Man it felt good just rolling through the turns and keeping my speed pretty constant throughout the entire turn. I'm not sure if Eric Davila and I got a gap or not, but as we came up to the climb with 2 laps to go, my legs weren't feeling so good. I was barely able to hang on for the next lap and was able to finish 23.
So the way I looked at it, my effort helped Kevin Young win the race and clinch his top spot for the GC. All in all it was a great weekend of racing. I had a really good time meeting and talking with Sean Ross' parents.