In the photo: Jack McCarthy
Written by Jack
If it weren’t for the fact that it was so cold, I would have been excited for my first road race. Snelling is a 63 mile course for the Cat 4s so I was excited to test my fitness in a distance far greater than the crits I had been doing. Snelling is a mostly flat course, which suited me well, so I was eager to go for a result on this particular day.
Mickey Duffy and I got up before the crack of dawn and hit the road from San Francisco as we discussed how we were going to go about the race. The consensus seemed to be to try and get a guy in a break that stuck, which we knew wouldn’t happen until after the 1st lap. Even if the break was caught, at least people wouldn’t be looking to us to chase. Of course, the race had other plans and we ended up being one of the few teams that wasn’t represented when a break of about 6 riders opened up a sizeable gap during the second lap.
There were a handful of other teams that seemed willing to bring the break back, but the group up the road must have been working well together since we soon lost sight of the break all together. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” and the bunch seemed to echo this sentiment. As I chatted with a few riders in the group, people seemed resigned to let the break stay away and no one was organizing an effective chase.
Having no interest in racing for 7th place, I took matters into my own hands and went to the front. After burning most of my matches in a big effort I was able to bring the group back when immediately one of the guys who had a teammate in the break snapped. I still felt I had a little something left, so I tried to go with him and start a break of our own. This was right before beginning the final lap, so we still had over 20 miles to go, but based on how the bunch let the first group go away, I felt we had a shot.
As it turns out, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The rider up the road was much strong than I was after my effort to bring the break back, and I spent the next hour watching his silhouette slowly get smaller and smaller on the horizon. This meant I was no longer riding to catch the leader, but instead to hold off the pack for second.
I thought to myself that I just need to ride my own time trial and pace myself to the finish. Unfortunately my power meter had died the night before so I was out there riding the old fashioned way by feel with no sight of either the rider in front of me, or the pack behind. This made for a very lonely 20 miles where I really turned myself inside out to hold off the pack, but I was able to do just that and hold on for 2nd place.
In the photo: Drew Fagerlin
Written by Drew.
Going into the race I had high hopes despite the fact that all of the conditions were the opposite of ideal: waking up at 5 am, a flat course, and temperatures barely cresting 50 degrees. My plan going into the race was to be more patient and attack in the latter parts of the race, where I believed my fitness would hopefully allow me to pull away as others tired out. Like most races, my plan did not fully play out as I wanted it to, but I came away with a third-place finish and my first podium of the year.
In an effort to be patient I stuck myself in the middle of the pack for the first two laps, not letting myself be antsy and ride off the front. During the initial laps there were three solo breakaways that did not appear to be threatening and were eventually caught by the pack. Soon after beginning the third lap our field was neutralized as a masters group was lead past us, this did not help my patience and I decided I would attack later on in the lap on the one climb (more of a bump than a climb). Sure enough, at the base of the bump I dashed off the front only to be quickly caught by the remaining group of about twenty riders.
I kept the pressure on and the group picked up pace as we hammered toward the end of the third of our four laps. The pace picked up again soon after the beginning of the fourth and final lap and I sat on wheels for the long and fast straight away. Once again, a few miles later the pace slowed down and I made a break off the front up an even smaller climb, but the gap was bridged about two minutes later.
Shortly after, with half a lap to go, and the pace slowed once again, and nobody was willing to work at the front or make a move. I was sitting in second when the rider in front of me sped up and I chased him as we went off the front and created a gap. We worked in unison, not smoothly, but we were able to hold the break away for about three miles until the final kilometer where we were caught on the sharp right turn to the finish.
As I was making my way out of the turn I looked back to see that the remaining field of about ten was right behind, and there I was sitting on the front in prime position to get passed. Nevertheless, I held my position and told myself not to let anyone pass me. I stood up out of the saddle and mashed on the peddles and by the time I crossed the finish, two riders, one by a bike length and one by a wheel length were able to get by. As the air filled with the shrill gasps of exhausted athletes I was ready for one more lap, one which sadly did not exist...