Written by Mathias Jacquelin
Last race of the season, and I had never raced so far away, so how could I say no to waking up at 4:20am, drive for 2.5h and race my bike one last time for the 12th Henleyville Road Race? I couldn’t, so here I was on I5, eating a plain bagel and drinking coffee, determined to make it to the hall of fame of Velopromo races.
Needless to say, the field I discovered after my little road trip was of very modest size: 10 people had pre-registered, and we were 9 on the line, ready for one last bout of pure professional level of Cat 3 amateur racing. Also, I had no teammate during that race, which brought back memories of my first races.
I knew that the course was pancake flat, which wasn’t the best for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love pancakes, but when it comes to bike races, I prefer things to be a little… hillier. That being said, Henleyville was the last race of the season so, I decided to give it my best shot anyway, especially in the ONLY climb of the course (which is like one or two minutes long). We had to ride 4 laps of this course.
Two teams had two riders, and the rest of our group was made of lonely mercenaries like myself.
The race started as slow as any coffee ride to which I am not going, since I am an antisocial human being. I did not like that, so I decided to make things a bit more interesting when we hit the climb for the first time. I didn’t want to break away, but rather wanted people to race their bikes rather than just sitting for 3 hours and stand up for 10 seconds to decide who would be covered in glory. At this point, everything went to plan and people started to attack, counter attack, and I was fully participating to this wonderful show, but saving my energy, a silly idea in my mind.
Towards the end of lap 1, Trevor from Dolce Vita, let his teammate Spencer roll away from the group, and, as I could not resist, I joined him together with another rider. This first tentative was short-lived and we were quickly caught. I was pleasantly sitting 5th wheel when the exact same thing happened a few minutes later. So I bridged again, alone this time.
“LET’S GO !” is what I yelled. And Spencer and myself were on to a little ride of our own, with his teammate Trevor (not) working in our favor in the “pack”. I immediately told him that we needed to put in a solid effort for a while to establish the break. We worked together perfectly and Spencer was a grade A breakaway companion. Kudos to him! After completing the second lap, we were told that we had a 2 minute gap, not bad! During third lap, we were informed that we had 3 minutes on two riders chasing, so I decided to push the pace up a bit, to make them come to their senses and abandon this doomed bridging attempt. A few minutes later, this is exactly what happened. Only one last problem to solve for me: my breakaway companion.
Hitting the climb for the last time, I unleashed the power, and attacked my friend of the day. This was perfectly timed since right at that moment, Spencer started to have cramps. Here I was, solo, like Demi Lovato, for a 25 minute TT effort. And oh boy, you know that a masochistic weirdo like me loves those efforts. I stayed committed, pushed the pace up, being chased by all sorts of ghost riders my sugar-deprived dehydrated brain was inventing. I finished the race with a solid gap, raising my finger guns up high in the air, a moment of history that no photographer was onsite to witness. It didn’t matter, glory was on me, and on Team Mike’s Bikes Dev again !
Big thanks to our sponsors fueling our rides, Gu for not allowing me to bonk, Mike’s Bikes for all the support and the parts required to keep my beloved whip rolling, Equator Coffees for morning artificial energy, and all my non-present teammates, especially those in Cat 1 and 2!
P.S. A massive shout out to Chris Ahl who conquered his first victory ever in the mighty Cat 4 field !
P.P.S. A big thumbs up to the readers who made it up this far in this extra long report, had to keep you busy during the off-season ;-)