by Buzz Wright
I didn't do the TT because I'm not a fan of them and would rather save my money for crits. I was also not interested in the omnium so my plan was simply to do whatever I could to help Michael place well in the road race. TriSports had around 15 guys in the race (plus or minus) including Kyle "The Killer", Ryan "Bitter Hatred", newly upgraded Erik "Pain Dispenser", Dan "Hammer Dropper", and Josh "Yay Crits". I've submitted upgrade requests for all of those guys and am waiting to hear back from USAC. Not sure if you can request an upgrade for your competition or not but we'll see...
I felt pretty good despite not getting a great night's sleep. I'm not a very strong climber though which was bad because we were doing eleventy laps (plus or minus) and unless I could find a non-flat-inducing shortcut through the desert that meant eleventy times up Pistol Hill. I love climbing up Pistol Hill though because it always reminds me of my "comeback" ride. https://www.strava.com/activities/119166978
The "o" in "Welcome Back Buzz" written on the Pistol Hill climb
The first couple laps were not too bad. The group split up a bit on the climb but came back together on the descent and across Loma Alta. At some point during the third lap three riders went up the road and held about a 30-second gap for a lap or two. I wasn't too worried about them because TriSports wasn't in the break and they had enough horsepower in the field to reel them back in. The majority of the race for me was simply staying on wheels, staying near the front, eating, drinking, and trying not to puke on anyone.
We caught the break after a few hard pulls during the 18th or 19th lap (I lost count). On the final lap as we were heading down Loma Alta, Kyle managed to get a bit of a gap. It looked to me like he was trying to prompt some moves so I decided to stir things up a bit for Michael. I rolled by him and told him to get on my wheel and that I'd launch him up to Kyle. I held back a bit on the jump because I didn't want to gap Michael and so while he was able to get up to Kyle unfortunately so was everyone else. I recovered for a minute and watched TriSports like a hawk. Ryan got away and Kyle did a great job of blocking on the front. I watched Ryan and waited until he had a decent gap before I started setting up to launch Michael again. When I felt it was a good time, I tried to get Michael's attention but he was busy on the wrong side of the group dreaming about German chocolate. After a couple minutes of trying to get his attention without alerting the entire field I gave up and shouted, "Michael!" and then motioned for him to come over to the correct side and get on my wheel.
Pro tip: If you don't want to surprise anyone with your attack, yell out your teammate's name when it comes time.
Once Michael was on my wheel I pondered announcing to the field that we would now be attacking, but decided to just keep my mouth shut and go for it. And of course, as soon as any movement is detected in the field, there will be at least 4 guys who will shout, "On the left!" as a sort of public service for the group. So while our attack was completely expected, it was just sharp enough to give us a little separation. Maybe a bike length. I put in a good dig for about a minute but could sense the group on Michael's wheel so I backed off just a touch to re-evaluate and think. I can't think when I'm going at 100%. Actually I have trouble thinking at 50%. So I did some math in my head and determined that since this was the last lap, there would be zero more laps to go. Then I tried to convert kilometers to miles and then miles to feet. That resulted in just 7 feet to the finish and I was pretty sure that was incorrect as we hadn't made the turn onto Pistol Hill yet. So I abandoned all that and came up with a simple plan -- push hard until about halfway up Pistol Hill and then puke everywhere. The intent would be to shed a couple riders and give Michael something to launch from. My hope was to give him a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, this meant that we, along with the group, would likely catch Ryan near the finish. I felt bad about that -- but teammates come before JKG (slightly).
We ended up catching Ryan at the turn onto Pistol Hill, I yelled for Michael to finish strong and then I sat up to the finish. When I crossed the line I asked our teammates on the sidelines if Michael had placed top 10. I was super stoked to hear that he had. Fun day of racing, and some great results for IC3!