After last week’s dehydration incident, I prepared for today’s race by drinking about 2 quarts during the day, and had a water bottle on me. This week was back to the White Church course. I went for a short pre-ride of ~3 miles to warm up my legs just a bit, and headed up to EHP to start the ride out.
I wanted to conserve energy on this race, so I stayed close to the back once we got racing. It was a pretty large group this week, so even in the back I was on and off the breaks often. Every slight downhill the leaders would get going faster and the group would elongate, and then any slight incline we all bunched up into a tight group 4 or 5 wide stuck in a jam. It got really annoying after a few miles of this, but the group was taking the full lane and I couldn’t move up. I gave in and just rode the back for most of the first lap.
On the last few hills, it was still the same story of every so close together that nobody could move. I was getting ready to jump off the pavement and try to pass on the side, but I decided against that. Finally, getting towards the finish a car went by and the group thinned out a bit and didn’t blob back up too fast, so I shot up the yellow line and got close to the front.
The last hill came, and Sam kicked up his pace and was off the front. Peter was right up there too, and I was behind him. Sam looked back, and unintentionally swerved a tiny bit and slipped off the pavement onto the gravel. Now it was just Peter and I, and since he’s pretty tall, I drafted him until he slowed a tad and I sprinted to the finish for first!
The second lap started with the group going really slow, and Sam and I started faster and created a gap without trying. We got about 20 seconds up, and we just kept up a good pace there for nearly a third of the lap. Although it was more effort to stay up there, it was much easier than being jammed in the pack hitting the breaks all the time.
The pace seemed a bit higher, although maybe I was just more tired and perceived a different pace. In any case, the group spread out a bit more towards the end, and I was with a group of 10-12 near the final stretch. I didn’t have the energy to sprint around them, so I let up near the finish to let them fight it out. I’m still pretty happy that I was able to keep up until the very end, especially considering the beginning of the lap breaking the wind with just two of us.