First off, I would like to say that any man, woman or child who had the nerve to toe the line on Saturday is deserving of praise. As others have written already, conditions were really that bad. The weather has only been worse for me in one Socal race, that being the Boulevard Snow Day of 2009.
Nathan described the first three quarters of the race accurately. The 6th time over the hill was the last kom sprint, and 5 guys were going for the points. I came over the top with a few others a little bit behind. But on the downhill a little became more and more. It was clear this was the move. At the bottom of the hill entering the finishing straight my companions began to tire, so I took off on my own to catch the leaders.
I turned myself inside out to ride them down by the sharp left hander. Once there, I recovered for a few minutes, then took my place in the rotation. The number 1,2, 8, 9, 13 and 17 riders on GC were in this move, so I knew if it stuck I would be moving up to forth.
The rain was really coming down, and nobody attacked for the remaining two laps. Coming into the finish the speed picked up and DeMarchi hit out hard on the left side. I followed a wheel, got some speed and went after him. About 100 yards out I could tell I was moving much faster and passed him with about 50 to go.
I don’t win too often, and it had been a while since I had crossed the line first. There is almost something magical about watching the finish draw close, and then all of a sudden it is there right in front of you, then done and nobody has passed. So you will have to excuse the feral scream I made. Marco has a copy of the video and some good pictures.
I was pretty well worked over for the crit. Fortunately I had Nathan looking out for me and giving out some helpful pushes from behind. Only 35 guys made the time cut the previous day and less than 30 finished stage 3. So remained 4th in GC and finally got on the SDSR podium.
Thanks for reading,
Now that the race is over, I can say I had a good time. There were MANY times I could not. Coming off yet another cold (damn kids) I took the TT a bit conservative. Yes I went hard, but not flat out. The course is never steep, but unforgiving. That unfortunately put me in 35th, but I didn’t think GC was in the cards with the sickness.
With Mark in 9th, we needed to help where we could on the RR. Starting in a decent rain is something every race should at least do once. Roll out instantly has you wondering how much better a day at work would be instead. I’d brought Rain X (for car windshields) and had most of us put it on our lenses. It worked really damn well! The water just beaded off constantly. Half way through the first of eight laps we were soaked but guys were being pretty conscious. There were hard to see pot holes, huge puddles, rivers……….you name it.
At the top of the second climb as it rolls off and into a very fast DH you snake your way over a riser and into the front straight. I made a mistake by not bombing the sketchy downhill and followed a Monster Media guy who let a gap open on the main straight. This straight is SO, SO windy, we got dropped. I really thought my day was over as I was flat out and could not get back on.
About 7 of us chased for half a lap before rejoining. A guy lost control on the same damn spot in front of me the very next lap and I got dropped again!!! I was so pissed. 4 of us chased back on a lot sooner this time though. Starting the 4th lap, the storm really arrived and it was crushing down! The wind then kicked up and we were all getting blown all over the place. VERY sketchy. But to hell with doing the same damn thing down the DH! I took the scary line on the off camber inside and road at the tires limit and flew into the front straight completely fine.
THIS is how I finished the rest. There were only about 30 of us left by now. Before the 4th climb up, it was only Mark and I from LG. I felt good other than a twinge of calf cramp. He said ! he felt good. That climb decided the top 6. He didn’t make the selection, but holy hell he chased down the entire windy front straight and all the way down the next head wind straight by himself to catch on!! This in itself is absolutely mind-blowing.
The last two laps had everyone starting to fade a bit and take poor lines, etc. I had been really cramping in my calves for a while. But last time up the climb had only 20 of us left and 6 up the road. Two had enough big power to get away on this climb and stay to the line. We started jockeying for position and I jumped on Aron G. wheel as we flew into the finishing straight. We easily sprinted for 500m. This is hugely far with fresh legs, it felt like a mile on toasted ones. A few guys pipped me at the line and I finished 14th. Mark nicely won the 6 off the front! Great job my friend.
The crit just had 35 guys left and was of course FLAT out from the gun! 40mins of going 30+mph up the riser and 27.5 aver. with a lot of wet turns. I tried my best to protect Mark (now 4th GC) and gave some good shoves to help him on a couple of gaps. We stayed out of trouble and he kept the top 5 GC placing and I ended up 20th GC (Damn TT!). A great 3 days of hellish racing!