by Michael Hast
The plan for the Bike the Bluff road race was to start our attacks early and potentially send a teammate ahead of the peloton and then to bridge to him later in the race. It all started according to plan. Jimmy and I released Gary and Evan from Tolero Racing. They got about 50 feet from the peloton, when a bunch of riders started to chase them down. I launched an attack right before the highest point of the race, Juniper Point, trying to see who would be willing to stay with me on the uphill. A junior racer from Team Winded was glued to my wheel and took off with me. I signaled him to work with me, but initially he didn't want to come around. He finally did on the downhill after Juniper Point, but due to his junior gearing, he spun out and it was hard for him to keep the speed going downhill. The peloton caught us and I went to the middle of the peloton. The junior rider was still glued to my rear wheel.
A group of about 5 riders took off after my attack. We let them go to about a distance of 200 yards before we started a pace line to wheel them back in. The pace line didn't really close the gap, so I attacked with the intent to bridge to the 5 riders on the last climb before the turn to Clay Springs. There were about 5 riders with me, one of them being Leo Carrillo. I wanted Leo to be in my break because Leo is a very strong Ironman. He knows how to time trial and can put out an immense amount of power on downhills or straights. I did not want him to chase me down. After we bridged to those 5 riders, some of them broke off and we ended up with an 8 rider break. Going through Clay Springs we had about a lead of 100 yards. I was asked if we could make the break succeed and answered with a confident absolutely. Coming out of the last corner of Clay Springs I went to the front and hammered as hard as I could to the final hill before the next 20 mile downhill. On the downhill Leo went to the front and increased our lead quite considerably. Our group worked well together all the way to Taylor, where our strength started to fade.
We climbed the finals hills from Taylor back to Show Low without any attacks. The chase group didn't get any closer and we prepared ourselves for the finish. Everybody did just enough work to get by. On the last hill where our speed went down to 10-12 mph, I was planning to attack, but because of the strong headwind I decided to wait. After the 1 mile to go sign, I launched an attack and had a little gap. But I faded rather rapidly due to the aforementioned strong headwind. Another rider attacked, but had a cramp in his hamstring. Then I remembered my teammate Jimmy's observation, be first or second on the final corner and be first or second on the podium. I saw the corner, attacked, went first though it and then pedal, pedal, pedal, don't cramp hamstring, pedal some more. Right before the finish line, I saw 2 front wheels in my peripheral vision, but I held on to win.
What a wonderful moment to be able to win the Arizona State Championship Road Race in Category 4.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph 1:3)
I wanted to thank my family for coming with me to Show Low and spending their morning with me on the race venue. Thanks to all my teammates, especially Jimmy and Gary for their support, insight and wisdom before and during the race. Many thanks also to all of our sponsors!
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