The annual ICCC Dash for Cash course is a large pancake-flat 4-corner square. What typically makes for an interesting racing is the wind. This year the conditions were the same; a solid and consistent wind from the west, especially for the 2:15 P12 race. This meant we would have a crosswind on the start/finish straight and between turns two and three. We would face a headwind between turn three and four. I was fortunate to be escorted to the race by my two young boys and wife. It's always nice with family cheering me on. I arrived at the parking lot with not a lot of time to spare, but enough to lather on some Zealios sun block and pull on my Capo skinsuit.
I soon saw some teammates, and then some more teammates. To my happy surprise, we had more guys racing than I expected. A quick team meeting outlined our plan; be aggressive from the beginning, pick up as many of the lap primes as we could (given out every lap for the first 30 laps, hence the race name 'Dash for Cash') and make sure we had two to four guys in the break. We had one or two teammates specifically who were looking for upgrade points and deserving a win, so their job was to do their best to make the break. A flat four corner crit doesn't typically lend itself to a break, but we were pretty certain one would get established because of the wind and mix of riders in the field.
The starting whistle blew and we were off. Within the first few laps we picked up some primes. Soon, strongman and last weekend's Mt Hamilton Road Race winner, Chris Riekert, made a timely attack and was given some room. He would stay off the front for about five laps, picking up some more well deserved primes. Half-way through the race, I was positioned 4th or 5th wheel coming into the last turn so I decided to sprint for a lap prime. As I accelerated, another rider who's been riding strong this year, David Grundman, seemed to want the prime too. It was close as both of us threw our bikes for the line. I didn't look back but decided to keep a little pressure on the pedals. I was happy to see that David did the same. We were soon joined by other riders, at which point I thought we had been reeled in. However, when I looked back there was about seven or eight riders and we had a considerable gap to the main field. The good news is that I had another teammate in the break, young gun/diesel Reese Levine. The break soon began working well together. Winning the lap primes now became less a priority, but instead keeping the break going as I knew we had a good chance of getting the win if the break was to stay away.
With about eight laps to go, we got word from a teammate (who had pulled out of the race because the break was almost a minute up on the field) that Chris Riekert and Rainier Schaefer were trying to bridge with Jason Saltzman (NCCF/Specialized). Unfortunately, a few of the riders in the break also heard this and soon made the rest aware that it was in their best interest to keep pushing the pace so more TMB riders wouldn't join. Reese and I did what we could to allow Chris and Rainier to join, but without letting the break get away from us. Their gap to us went from 50+ seconds to 40 to 30. They ran out of time, however, and never made it across.
With about three laps to go, and me being a stronger sprinter than Reese, I asked him to attack between the 2nd and final corner of the last lap. This would string out the break and cause others to chase, in which I would latch on and be in an optimal position to launch my sprint. Unfortunately, timing didn't play in our hands as the rotating break put Reese on the front as we made the second to last turn on the final lap. He was now faced with a head wind and all riders lined up behind him. I was third wheel behind David Grundman. He kept a high enough pace so no riders attacked before the last corner. This is where I played the wrong cards. My instinct was telling me to attack just before the last turn but I made the choice to stay behind David, with the hopes he would attack and take me to the line. Instead, Willie Myers, of Marc Pro Strava, attacked from behind and the all-so-critical jump worked in his favor as he was able to hold off the rest of us for the win. I ended up 4th, Reese 8th, Chris 9th by holding off the peloton and collecting the Most Aggressive Rider award, Rainier 10th, and James winning the field sprint for 12th.
A big thank you to Katie Truong for her excellent pictures, used above, all my Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator Coffee teammates for strong riding, our amazing sponsors for their continued support, and a special thank you to my family for coming out to cheer for me.