OSRS #3 - Harrison's Tomb Road Race
52 miles, Cat 3/4, 80+ field. Off and on rain. This course did 5 laps of a loop that included a nice climb that had potential to split up the group. Only thing was that the hill was at the start of the loop and left too much time for chase groups to catch back up.
The road was tight with so many riders and one lane. There was a lot of attacking going on that proved to be inconsequential because of our numbers, and because the instigator, Andrew Beckman wasn't getting support. There were also a lot of people who were riding to mark others rather than go on the attack themselves.
So I was content to sit in the pack and prolong my fatigue as much as possible. 52 mi on the road is slightly out of my range, and although I can climb well, I knew I'd have to be conservative to stay with it.
So I'd sit in the top 10 - 20 and watch and wait for the climb. Each time up this hill I'd crest with a small group, but no-one really took the initiative and I knew I had sprinters in the field to work for if it came to a group finish. So I was guilty of this as well.
The rain was making the roads really greasy and a rider's front wheel slid out right next to me taking out a large chunk of the field. We were going around 35+ at the time on a down hill turn so I'm sure he got hurt - that's why you take turns on the inside so that when someone slides out, they don't take you with them.
On the last lap, the group over the top was the smallest yet, I worked to keep the pace up but things still came back together. I rolled to the back of about a 15 rider group looking for team mates and found that I was alone. I looked back, and although I could see a long way on the straight road, I couldn't make out any chase groups, so I pretty much gave up on my team mates and starting thinking about what to do for my own chances with the group.
We had about 3 - 4 miles to go, there was a lot of cat and mouse, but no-one seemed to have a plan or wanted to take the initiative. We would slow right down to 15mph at times inviting someone to jump, but no-one did. I would move up each time this happened and watch, ready to latch onto anyone's attempts but nothing really happened. We waited it out, and then I see Team WHAYNE colors out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see that three team mates had caught back on! So now I knew exactly what to do. Two of these guys can sprint really well; Doug and Steve Haulsman, and I had Joe there to help me set the pace.
We were getting close at this point, but it was hard to tell how far from the finish we were. One of the more dangerous riders on the DRT team who I would crest the climb with each time made a move, so we chased it. Joe was leading, and now the pace was high, 30mph +. This was lead out train pace, but Joe was tired from chasing and needed to rotate, I tried to let him back in but he got shuffled to the back so it was just me. I had Steve and Doug on my wheel so I tried to set a fast tempo. Fast enough that I could hold it for a while, while still discouraging anyone from making a move.
I stayed up there for what seemed like forever, and the finish line seemed like a long way away still. I was tiring and teams were lining up behind ready to pounce. A few made some moves and I dug deep to try and stay close to the front without getting completely swamped.
I still had them on my wheel as we approached the 1 km mark, guys were launching early and I was giving everything I had to keep the pace up and give them some position. Just before the 500m mark they all blew by me and I got to sit up and stroll in while trying to see what happened in the sprint.
I think we had three guys inside the top ten. Not the perfect lead out like we had last weekend, but there were a lot of positives given it was such a tough course. I'm really happy that we had four guys in the final group, considering Andrew Boyd crashed out and Greg flatted.
Big props to Andrew Boyd for crashing and getting back on his bike to finish the race. He actually came in not too far from the lead group. He also lost the ability to use his small chain ring for the climb! What a beast!
Also, nice work from the Doug and Steve H. to deal with those climbs and still sprint it out at the end, and also big props to Joe who did a lot of work to bring them back up to the lead group on the last lap. Great Team, this year is going to be a lot of fun.
Time for a break from racing for a while. Next on the calendar is Mt. Victory on May 5th. This will be a very similar course to today's race and hopefully we'll get another chance to sprint it out at the end or get Joe in a break.
Video of the race. Skip ahead to around 6mins to see the crash and Andrew Boyd's quick reflexes as he slides, regains his feet, and pulls his bike out of the way of his team mate, Doug Burton.