by Buzz Wright
The TBC time trial is my favorite kind of time trial. A short one. There are some things that I hope they will change about this TT for next year though -- removing the climb, making the course a loop instead of a point-to-point, changing it from a distance-based event to time-based and having multiple laps of the loop done, switching it to a mass-start style and allow drafting, and for fun including a few special laps in there to sprint for prizes.
Ah yes, now that would actually be fun. The opposite of riding as hard as you can, puking nonstop for a couple hours, and then learning that you placed 40th, almost 2 minutes slower than the leader. Yuck.
My legs hurt and I was tired, but at least the road race allowed drafting. The plan was to stay near the front, conserve energy for the first two laps, and then work hard on the final lap to help Gary and Jimmy finish well. Gary dropped a bottle on the first lap so I told him to let me know if he needed fluids and I would share. The first lap was pretty tame until we got to the climb, where the pace pushed me into the red. I was able to fall back through the group though during the climb to minimize the pain.
We were going through the rollers section prior to turning back down Helmet Peak when I realized that Gary was off the back of the group. I looked at him and then looked at the front of the group, then back at him and tried to quickly decide what to do. I opted to fall off the group a bit to give Gary a sort of bridge to get back on. He wasn't too far and I felt a short strong effort would be all that was needed for him to make it back. I sat up and motioned for him to jump up to me. After about 30 seconds I looked back at the group and realized that there was a bit of a surge and the gap between the group and me was growing. I got nervous and looked back at Gary, then back at the group. I realized that my better option would be to get back in the group and try to help Jimmy, but after about a minute of chasing them I decided to sit up and wait for Gary so we could work together to try to catch them on Helmet Peak.
My indecision during that period essentially ended my race. Once we turned on HP I got to work trying super hard to regain contact with the group. We could see them up the road about 20 seconds ahead of us. My hope was they would take the descent somewhat easy (like we did on the first lap) -- but even though we were 30 seconds faster than the first time with the group on that segment, Gary and I were unable to catch them. The gap before we turned on La Canada was probably around 10 seconds. Once on flat land I was pretty gassed and told Gary we wouldn't be able to catch them. We continued to work hard together for the remainder of the race, making sure we stayed away from anyone who was behind us and hoping to be able to pick up a few guys as we went along.
It was pretty hot and with Gary missing a bottle we were in need of more fluids. When we passed through the feed zone on the final lap I yelled out for neutral bottles and was able to get three (thanks Jelly Belly). Turned out that Gary wasn't able to get any bottles so it was a good thing I grabbed three. We hydrated and pushed on, finishing in the same time as the race last year (but doing so without the assistance of the main group) -- the competition this year is definitely stronger.
The circuit race is a lot of fun and I was looking forward to it. Plan was the same but my legs were pretty much dead so I focused on conserving as much energy as I could with the hope that I wouldn't lose contact with the group. I moved up when the pace was easy and slid back with things got hard. This worked pretty well but on lap three I had trouble holding wheels and ended up about 3 bike lengths back during the rollers leading up to the finishing climb. I knew the pace would be hard up the climb and I was going to blow myself up trying to jump back up to the group so I looked back to see if there was anyone else I could work with. Turned out Stephen with Carlos O'Brien's was there with another rider. I sat up and waited for them and then the three of us traded pulls for a lap to attempt to get back in the group. Stephen and I ended up dropping the other rider and continued working together but without much hope of reaching the group.
Despite being dropped again it was a fun day of racing. Stephen and I worked hard and finished strong, though our placings weren't that great. Michael held onto his 3rd place spot on the GC so that was very cool. I look forward to this race next year and hopefully will have enough fitness next time to be more of a help for my teammates.
Buzz in the circuit race (photo by Damion Alexander)