Challenge Challenge is probably the best race on the local calendar. Legit, mountainous roads and lots of miles with some reasonably long climbs have always made it a good one. This year it was even better, riding with a strong team.
The race starts with a neutral descent on a road that will shake anything that is loose off your bike. This year was no exception, and guys without BikeSmart cages lost their bottles in the first few minutes. We waited for them – challenge is a community.
The race then gets going for real with a long steady climb. We hit it at a modest tempo and a little bit of selection took place. From there, the course rolls, hits a screaming descent, then it rolls gently before again hitting significant climbs. Marc Pro Strava threw down some attacks through the rolling sections that in some years past might have been winning moves. Not the case this year with a strong Team Mike’s Bikes keeping things under control. Big thanks to Hank, Tyler and Andy for all of the work on that.
But about half way through the next set of big climbs, a decent size break got away. I made it along with three or four Marc Pro guys, one from Competitive Cyclist and one from Wonderful Pistachios. Then Andy closed the gap, giving TMB a solid presence in the group.
Then more selection took place. Going into the last lap, it was down to three riders from Marc Pro Strava, one from Wonderful Pistachios one from Competitive Cyclist and me. And then it got hard. We lost one Marc Pro on the rough descent and the next two on the long climb, with the Competitive Cyclist rider opening a gap on me and the Wonderful Pistachios rider. The two of us chased, lost ground and ultimately I pulled away on the next set of hard climbs. I wasn’t able to catch the leader but did hold off the chasers for second.