Bariani Road Race - 70 miles, 15-25mph winds and rain.
This was my first year racing Bariani Road Race, but have heard many things about this early season NorCal road race. The team's goals were relatively straight forward - we had a full squad of eight, so we had no reason not to be aggressive and see how the race could play out. Pre-race plans were set, hoping to let the first lap or two go by before making any real moves. One thing I have been learning when it comes to racing is that plans don't always work out exactly how we'd like them to!
Everyone in the race knew the weather was not looking great for the race - and that was apparent at the start. The race official even asked if the field would like to shorten the race by a lap, which thankfully was declined. We rolled from the parking lot, and the pace of the race immediately picked up as we turned south into the headwind. Even though the team knew that moves wouldn't be made till later in the race, everyone kept their head on a swivel and accelerated quickly with the move to get on the front and drive the pace for the first straight into a nasty crosswind. Shortly after, attacks were made, and the team had nearly the whole squad in a break with two other riders. Though it was caught, it again showed how the team was being attentive and aggressive.
Rolling into the rough sections of road on the lap, I mashed into what I had thought was a shallow puddle - which was actually a deep wheel crusher. Thankfully my Roval Tubulars held, preventing a blow out, but I realized roughly three miles later than my tire was going flat. Attacks were flying as the group hit the crosswind section of the course, but I asked around to my teammates to see how everyone was feeling (there was no neutral support). Chris selflessly decided that I would be better off in the race, so we quickly swapped front wheels. I chased back onto the second group up the road, just as the group was turning onto the finish straight. The team was launching attacks to bridge up to the front group, and I managed to grab onto a group with Craig and another rider. We caught the group after they turned onto the rough section of road.
Going into the final two laps of the race, it was four riders from the team and three other riders - Matt from Herbalife, Cole from Team Specialized Juniors, and Max from Astellas. The group was working well together, and we eventually had nearly four minutes over the next group. Rolling into the rough section of the last lap, Max attacked the group. I bridged up to him solo, and we worked well together leading into the final straight. With nearly a minute up on the group behind us, it was a matter of playing my cards right. There's something slightly demoralizing about heading into a sprint at roughly 18-19 mph because of the 25mph headwinds! In the end, I was able to jump hard around Max in the last 500 meters for my first P/1/2 win.
The team rode an awesome race - I'm extremely lucky to have the opportunity to ride guys that do whatever they can to help the team succeed. We're all lucky to have the support from our sponsors to be able to do so!