Plagued with quadriceps tendonitis for the first half of the 2012 race season, most of my time has been spent on the bench in rehab and behind the scenes working on team stuff. Due to the injury, I have only had a couple of months of consistent on the bike training but my patient coach Shawn has made it some extremely quality time. I pinned my first race number back at a County Center crit and have gotten a couple other races in after that.
I drove out to the Willow Creek Circuit Race with intentions of supporting Ryan who had done well in the Time Trial and Criterium and was sitting high up on GC with potential to take the overall. Shawn also had me do Threshold Power testing the Friday before so my legs were slightly cooked and I figured this would just be another training race. The field was a decent size and Ryan gave me a quick rundown on whose number and team to watch for that were sitting above him in the standings. We rolled out for an hour of racing around the Folsom circuit thinking the race would likely come down to a sprint due to the close overall standings and representation from the teams. Early in the race a large break went off the front with decent representation from all the teams. With its size it looked potentially dangerous so before the gap opened up I went to the front and helped reel them back in. After the group was brought back, the field was content rotating and rolling around for a lap until two riders rolled off the front, Rocky Fletcher of Rio Strada and a Davis Bike Racing rider. As their gap started to increase, Ryan Oakes of Chico Corsa attacked out of the field to bridge up to the riders. Ryan had mentioned he was sitting high up in the standings and his teammate was sitting first overall so I attacked out of the field to join them.
With the four teams represented in the break, we quickly opened a gap from the field and were working pretty well together each comfortably sharing the load. The moto ref rolled up to us and gave a time update of what I think was 35 seconds. We continued to rotate but myself and Ryan Oakes began to do additional work. The moto ref then gave us a time update of 25 seconds so I knew the field was bringing us back and we had to work harder. I tried to motivate the riders to take stronger shorter pulls and keep a tight formation but felt that the workload was no longer being shared equally. With around 4 laps to go, I noticed Ryan Oakes had dropped out of the break and it was just myself and the two other riders. With the gap falling and only two companions left, my legs still felt fresh so I made the decision to rail the chicane and attack my two remaining breakaway companions.
For around four laps I proceeded to ride solo off the front with no time updates from the moto ref or race updates of chasing riders. In fear that riders would bridge or the field would catch me, I buried myself until the finishing stretch where I was able to celebrate solo with a minute lead on the peloton.
Luckily Ryan was able to rest in the field while the other teams chased and finished top 5 in the field sprint, but unfortunately was just nipped by a rider he was tied for 3rd with in the standings so finished 2nd overall in the GC for the weekend. Regardless, a great result and great weekend for us both. Later in the day, John Piasta and Jim Wingert would go 1-2 in the P/1/2 general classification. Phenomenal weekend for the team.