Not often do I get to do a race that is literally right down the street from my house. The Barry Wolfe GP used to be in Woodland Hills and this is the first year they moved it to Westlake Village. I was super excited to do this race because I knew all my friends would be there as well as Ashley, who could make time in between clients to come by and watch me race…finally. This was also day 2 of my mini stage race. My coach had a “wonderful” idea to make this long weekend match up with the TSS of a 3 day stage race. TTT first day, Crit second day, and a long training ride ( I dubbed it the Mountain Stage) the third day.
Got there early to get signed up as I was the first race…Cat 5 at 7:30am. As usual, signups didn’t go all that fast and my warm up was limited to about twenty minutes. I was ok with that. Having done the Team Time Trial yesterday, I was a little tired so the warm up was really just to get the legs moving again. Once I got off the trainer and did a couple circuits around the course, I felt fine.
Plan for this race was to win….plain and simple. I’m confident that with some good strategy and a little luck, I have what it takes to win this race. We took off at a rather leisurely pace and I was just sitting in the back when we took off. I even got a shout from Win from Wins Wheels to “Get going!” During these races, I do my best to hide and not be on any one’s radar. Just sit in the middle of the pack and wait for the end. I stay enough forward to be able to respond should anyone make a big move that I either want to be a part of or bring back but usually, just saving energy. This race was fairly “normal”. It was an easy pace and I was just making sure to stay safe and keep the effort level as low as possible. On the final lap I moved to about 4th or 5th wheel and just tried to stay in good position. Two turns to go and a guy starts motoring…perfect. This guy was the perfect lead out. I could tell by the way he was pedaling that he wasn’t going to make it far….but far enough. Through the last turn and I’m second wheel with about 1k to go. I’m in perfect position and about to spring my sprint when BOOM! I see a guy go and go hard right out of the turn…whoa! Good move if he can hang on. I go as hard as I can and start closing down the 10 meter gap he had created with his sneak attack. Pushing pushing pushing but it’s closing too slow….he sits down with 50 meters to go and I push harder….but I didn’t make it. I came through second and have to give him props for a well timed sprint that just got him there.
Turns out that it was my buddy Nick Cali who won the race. He and I have just recently reconnected through cycling but have known each other for years through motocross. I was really happy for him. 2nd was solid but not what I was looking for.
Next up was the Cat 4/5 race about an hour later. This race I was going to try and make a few moves and see what I could do. I knew I didn’t have much chance in a straight field sprint so I took some risks that didn’t pan out. Pace was once again, fairly easy. If you wanted to just sit in, it was no problem. About halfway through, two guys made a solid move to get away. I thought that with three, we might actually be able to make it stick based on how the main group reacted. So I made a mad dash to catch them and closed the gap. The moment I got up to them, I was ready to start sending it when all of the sudden, they both sit up??? WTF? It was completely baffling to me. We had gaped the main field really well and stood a good chance…but nope. That was really weird and sure cost me a lot in terms of energy.
Sat back in and waited till the end. Right before the final lap, about 1 1/2 to go, I made my way closer to the front when the same guy that lead me out in the first race came storming by. I decided to see how far he could take me. I sat on his wheel and we started to drop the main field. I told myself, if he can get me to 1/2 mile out, I’ll try and make a go for it. But he only made it to about 1 mile out and there was no way….so again, it just didn’t work out. I had to sit up, latch on and just finish the best I could. I didn’t have much left for the sprint.
I finished in 13th place and was the 1st Cat 5 across the line. I don’t know if that really means anything in these mixed races to be the first in your division…but I’ll take it. I’ve got 4 more races to go before upgrading to Cat 4. Next up is District Road Race Championships this weekend in Bakersfield. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, the Cat 5 race is not a Championship event 😦