By Oli Ryan
Leesville/Lodoga RR - 35+ 1/2/3
Saturday July 5
'New course due to a 13-mile gravelling of Leesville Road. A 70-mile out-and back course using the second half of the old course, with one major climb up Grapevine Pass (the old downhill) instead of Leesville Gap climb'
Started out warm, got hot.
Get in some good training miles, help out Jacob if there was an opportunity
Not much planning, but we had a quick chat before the race and agreed that, given the course, the only way me/John could probably help would be to a) not let safeway roll off the front and b) potentially get into a break that takes the pressure off Jacob.
We lined up with the 45s and it looked like both Safeway and Studio Velo had numbers (Safeway split between 35+ and 45+). We rolled out at a pretty casual pace, and about 10 miles in Rob Britt goes off the front and is joined by another guy, just dangling. Its a bit of a blur as to exactly how it happens, but I ended up putting in a few digs with Nick Theobald and next thing he says we have a gap, turn around and there’s 6 of us, me, Nick, Rob, Lucas Paz, some giant from roaring mouse and another guy in an orange/white kit. It took us a couple of miles to get into a good rotation, eventually we settle into a decent rhythm. We get what seemed to be a pretty good gap (could not see the group behind us at this point) and hit the main climb. A couple of minutes in, Nick starts to ride away from us, I tell him he can either do that and the 5 of us will reel him back in on the other side, or he can just continue to work with us. I was pretty much expecting him to continue to ride away but he actually backed off a little, still keeping the pace solid. We dropped Rob and the guy in Orange/white towards the top, and ended up with 4 who continued to work well together.
Over the top you have about 5-6 miles until the turnaround, and it’s absolutely shitty pavement (if you have ever done this race you’ll remember it, totally bombed out potholes etc). Nick skips a few pulls, as does Lucas as we near the turn, I’m feeling great and want to stay away so do a bit more work than I would usually. We hit the turnaround and I’m happy to see Jacob and Pasco about to bridge up to us (Pasco racing 45+ so was a perfect situation), they catch and the second they do, Lucas stops taking pulls and it becomes really ragged. Jacob and I talk, and do a good amount of the work to keep the pace reasonable, we can see another group chasing about a minute back that has 4-5 guys in it including Kyle from Safeway, so we keep working trying to stay away.
Somewhere we dropped the roaring mouse guy and it ends up Nick, Pasco, Jacob, Lucas and me…if we stay away, worst case is 3/4 for TMB with one 45+ rider, so things look pretty good. Nick and Pasco are still working, not as much as in the first half of the race. With maybe 10-15K to the finish the group is pretty ragged, I’m cramping off and on but able to ride through it, and I see the group behind us chasing hard…they slowly pull us back and catch us with about 5K to go. I suck it up mentally and start preparing for the finish, still feeling like we’ll get a good result between the two of us, we’re a mile from the finish and I flat and that’s all she wrote.