Thanks so much to my teammates and MRI Endurance for not only the amazing support, but also the trust in me to deliver up a win on their efforts. The competition was fierce today, and every team rode smart and strong. It was very satisfying to know that even with a divided squad between multiple races, we were still able to raise our hands at the end of the day and honor our sponsors, teammates and staff.
The NOW Energy Crit was already shaping up to be a great day for a race. Chris and CBR’s reputation for putting on excellent races that are well organized meant that the many of the Southern Calfornia’s toughest masters riders. I could tell from the earlier races that the conditions were ripe for constant attacks and small break aways, and since MRI Endurance did not have a full squad this was exactly what we were going to do. Whether we had the legs or not, we were determined to get into attacks and create some of our own. This was especially important considering that Surf City had brought a stacked squad and we are going to have to play it smart if we were going to win with our smaller number. The last thing we wanted was for this to come down to a field sprint.
I attempted to couple of attacks and small breaks early, but the wind was picking up to the point where nothing stuck. Eventually, we were able to send Jamie and MJ off the front in a break that actually stayed away for several laps. However, the peloton decided they were not going to let any breaks stay away and it was closed down with 5 laps to go. By the last lap, we were all together. While we didn’t have the numbers of Surf City, our team trusts each other and sometimes knowing each other is better than numbers. I knew MJ would be there for push to the front with me to try and disrupt the formation and take control of the Surf City lead out. Dan Reback jumped hard on turn 2 as expected, and I was right there with him. It was enough to create a small gap coming out of turn heading into the final uphill into turn 4.
Knowing what would happen if we hesitated even for a second and allowed the peloton to regroup I immediately sprinted up and through the final turn hoping to extend the gap. I was so worried that the group would power the up into the turn and overtake me out into the flat. I finished my first sprint out of the turn, recovered for a half second and immediately pushed for my second and final sprint with nearly 250 meters to go! I could hear the crowd yelling at me that we was too early and I was going to fade. But sometimes hearing that is all you need to dig even deeper. I laid into the pedals with everything I had was able to maintain my gap straight through to the finish. It was by far the longest, solo sprint I have done in a very long time.