Beautiful day for a race in Pescadero. Clear skies and cool temps, but not too cold or too warm. At the starting line, no one was wearing any extra clothing except Michael Hernandez who had a long sleeve wind jacket on. I joked that I would attack when he started to take it off & the race ref told the whole field to do the same. The field had 57 starters with 37 1/2/3s and 20 4s. This was the first time that they combined the 35+ 1/2/3s with the 35+ 4s, but the 4s lined up at the back and for the most part just rode their own race since they were picked separately.
The IronDataThirstyBear squad was the best represented with 4 of us. Joining me were Ken, Brenon & Greg. Safeway was 3 strong with Martin, Theobald & Glerum, with several other teams with 2 such as Pen Velo & Arts as well as many strong individuals.
We didn't wait to start racing, and as soon as the neutral ended the attacks started with Marcel Appelman (Appel) from Dolce Vita trying to get something going before the climbing started. But there were too many others willing to go, so it was just a fast series of attacks up to the sprint prime taken by Jan Weissenberger (Gnar!). The 4 of us stayed near the front and were taking turns jumping on everything. By the second climb on stage I took a look back and saw the field all strung out with guys already getting dropped (cool!)
The attacks didn't stop on 84. I went with Jan on one, but we were quickly chased down. A few minutes later Jan gave me the "let's go again" look, but I shook my head knowing that we'd get chased down, so he went solo and no one did anything for a while. Poor Jan was just riding by himself about 20 sec up the road before a few guys went to bridge. I think it was Theobald (Safeway) who went next with Brenon on his wheel. A couple minutes later they were joined by Josh Dapice (Kryki) and Robert Britt (Studio Velo) and the 5 of them were off and building their lead with no one chasing too hard.
We were given a time split at the end of the feed zone of 1 minute. I told Ken that I thought I could bridge up on the Haskins climb, so he went to the front and led the pack through the first 2K of the climb at about 600 watts (at least that's what it felt like). This pretty much blew up the race and by the top of Haskins I had caught the breakaway 5 with Matt Carinio (Arts) and Jeromy Cottell (Pen Velo) joining me. The lead break was now 8 & we were the only team with 2. Our group worked together nicely & this looked like it would be the race, but by the time we got to the stage road climbs we could see what was left of the pack about a minute back. Brenon drilled the twisty descent to 84 with the 7 of us in tow, then as we started our pace-line again, I could see a 3 man group with Dan Martin leading in his distinctive Canadian National Champ jersey, slowly pulling us back. I couldn't tell who was with him and had no idea that Ken was one of the 3.
The 3 of them caught us about a half mile before the turn to the feed zone and a demoralized Josh Dapice says to me "they all caught us again" (see Hamilton results). But I told him that it was only 3 and that we were now 11. Josh set a hard tempo up Haskins the 2nd time & we broke into a few pieces, but everyone was able to rejoin before Stage except Jan & Trevor White (Squadra) who had bridged with Dan & Ken.
For the final lap, we had 3 of 9 so things were looking pretty good. Cottell, Britt & Martin all tried attacks, but Brenon & Ken took turns at the front bringing it back. At one point on 84, Cottell attacked, then I chased & countered solo, but Martin pulled the field back to me. That was dumb, I know & Ken scolded me and told me to just sit in until the final climb. They did an amazing job of keeping it together until we hit Haskins, at which point I sat behind Carinio & Dapice until the 2K to go mark, then launched a 30 sec all out attack to get a gap. I probably went a little to hard, but I had a gap & it looked like no one was bridging up, so I put my head down and rode as hard as I could to the finish to win here for the first time! Dapice held on for 2nd, which I was happy to see since he was in our all day break that got caught 1K out at Hamilton & Nick came in next for third. Ken & Brenon held on for 8th & 9th.
I was very happy to see Greg outsprint Appel for 10th (even though Appel is a good friend).
All 4 of us in the top 10!
Great race guys and thanks!
Also, just figured out that this race was my 50th bike race win since I started in 2005 with the Mt. Tam Hill Climb (35+ 4/5). Wow, time flies!