Arriving at the race I was stoked with all of the Mike’s Bikes kits I saw. I had thought it was only going to be James and myself; however Steve, Travis and Ryan (who I didn’t recognize at first because of his beyond manly beard) were there to join us. Steve conducted a pre race meeting and said I was going to be the guy. I laughed thinking that we have James and I haven’t been racing that much lately. Either way, I had a team behind me, and this was a first for me. I only know how to be a teammate or ride by myself, I had no idea what to do with them.
At the start I got to the front right away and it was aggressive. I could tell from the start something would get away because of the long crosswind sections. We covered everything and made a few attacks but nothing was sticking because either Nate English didn’t make the move and reeled it back, or everyone else was too fresh to chase it down. So after a few more break attempts I wasn’t able to respond as the winning move went with Nate, Chuck and Sam Bassetti. I didn’t panic because there were still strong guys in the field and knew as long as the pack didn’t sit up I would be able to get across. However, what didn’t even cross my mind was the question, “How can I use my teammates to help me get across?”. This was shortly answered when I went to Steve, told him I could solo bridge it when he firmly responded, “No! You get on my f***ing wheel and we do it together!” That shut me up and I did what the man said, pushing anyone out of the way that tried to get that wheel from me. He attacked like a mad man and I barely stayed on to realize the separation he caused. Was everyone stupid to let two Mike’s get off the front or were they just not strong enough to hang on as Peleaz put them in the gutter. It was definitely the later. Steve swung off and I knew I had to close the gap before the headwind section. The last 10 meters were the hardest to close but I finally got there and sat on to make sure no one came with me. I realized how much energy Steve saved me, I probably could have bridged it solo, but I would have killed myself in the process and not taken full advantage of my teammates. We were gone and eventually I started working a bit but never drove the break.
We pedaled bikes for the remainder of the race and then it got exciting again with two to go. I had been examining my competitors and saw that Nate was hurting and would have to go a long way out. Chuck looked strongest and I pretty much assumed Sam would cramp. With one to go Chuck attacked, English chased but peeled off. Then it was just me and Sam. This reminded me of Nationals last year, 1 up the road and two chasing. I thought I knew what to do after my failed attempt last June. Sam was not going to close that gap, but at the same time there was no way I was taking him to the finish with me. I sat on and attacked him in the crosswind section. I looked back and had a gap on him and had to be all in. I bridged to Chuck and my mistake was not coming around him hard enough. I just thought he was dead, but he got back on me and 100 meters from the line he came around me and 10 meters from the line so did Sam. I screwed that one up…big time. By me not jumping Chuck hard enough, he just made the gap for Sam smaller, and was able to use me a lead out.
I look back on the race and am so grateful for Team Mike’s Bikes. Everyone was in the race making a difference and I got to experience being a Team Leader getting to play my card for the win. I doubted myself before the race, but Steve’s confidence in me was contagious and I am one race closer to my first P 1/2 win.