It was another Yolo sunny day in NorCal for the start of Dunnigan Hills Road Race, where we were to do two laps of a mostly flat 45 mile loop. The race name is a little misleading because the hills are mostly a non-factor; instead, wind is a bigger selector than elevation gain. Adam Switters, Dean Pogni, and myself were represeting Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator Coffees and Teas and the plan was fairly simple: get in the early break and/or bridge up to it later. There were a few riders to keep an eye on, including Zeke Mostov (Hagens Berman U23) who is representing the US at the junior world time trial championship next month and Connor Spencer, the current leader of the Cal Cup.

Within the first 2 miles, Zeke had already put in a move that was promptly covered—he was clearly going for an early breakaway. A mile later he went again, and this time I was ready for it. Zeke, Brennan Percy (Chico Elite), and I got away. Zeke was doing the majority of the work to establish the move and we increased our lead to a little over a minute. By the time we finished the 1st lap 3 other riders had bridged across to form a 6-man breakaway of Greg White (VuMedi), Chris Evans (Squadra SF), Zeke, Brennan, Connor, and myself. 

We were pushing the pace and thought for sure that with the strong wind we would grow a gap closer to 4 minutes, but alas we never even hit 2. With 15 miles left, I started thinking about how I could win the race. My best bet is a sprint finish, but with Zeke riding so strong, I needed to constantly mark him. Just as I started really watching him, a moto delivered news: 2 riders are bridging, one of whom was Adam. I moved to the back of our breakaway to wait for Adam to bridge. Lo and behold, 15 year old Garret Marking (Limitless) and Adam managed to bridge a 1:40 gap to us. Unfortunately Garret didn't get much farther because he immediately flatted. With 10 miles to go, I told Adam to keep the pace high and watch Zeke as he was the guy to beat today. Coming into 5 miles to go our gap dropped to a little over a minute and we started attacking each other to break away. None worked. I made no moves until we went over the overpass at roughly 1.5 kilometers to go, this also did not stick. However, a racer countered and everyone looked at each other. 

Adam came flying up on the left to bring him back and at 1 km to go this racer, perhaps unknowingly, kept the pace nice and high for the sprint. Adam led me out at 250 meters to go and I was able to come around him for the win! This win was extra special for several reasons: Adam held on to 2nd place, TMB has now won this race three years in a row, and lastly this win was personally special as it is my first P12 road race win. Big thanks to my teammates today; Adam and Dean (even though he unfortunately flatted early on) for their support and trust in me and all our sponsors for keeping us going! Lots of respect for the rest of the racers at Dunnigan Hills, including Greg who finished a respectable 3rd place.

-James