July 29, 2012
It was a good day for racing. The M35+ 4 race started at 1135am, and after the fog burned away, it was a comfortable 68 degrees or so. I met Phill Mai before the race. He was the only teammate in our very small field of 20 riders. We didn’t have much of a plan, just try to work together as the race developed.
I don’t know why, but I felt very nervous at this race. We started at the whistle, and my mouth was already dry. Phill was ahead of me, and I figured we could ride close together for a few laps. Somehow, I just wasn’t able to keep my position, and the next thing I knew, after about 3 laps, I’m on the back of the field. The course has a very slight uphill on Thousand Oaks Blvd, and a matching small downhill on Portland Ave, so maybe that had something to do with it…
Then around lap 4 or 5, someone takes off on a solo break off the front. No one chases. He seems quite strong and stays away for 2-3 laps picking up 2 back-to-back primes. The peloton slows during the chase, and I decide maybe I should bridge. I go full gas up Thousand Oak Blvd, and get a good gap on the field. After maybe 60 seconds, I look back, and Phill is on my wheel. “Let’s work together”, he says. We stay away for a couple of laps, but were never able to successfully bridge. The peloton caught us up, and the solo break in front as well.
Just as well. I get to take a quick rest. In the meantime, Phill goes off and picks up a couple of primes for himself. He’s looking strong today. So I figure, I’ll save some energy and try and give him a good leadout with around 2 laps to go or so. The way the course is laid out, the first rider into Turn 4 onto Portland Ave has a very good chance to win. But around 7 laps to go, the peloton slows, and a rider says “Keep the speed up. Let’s stay safe.” I think to myself, screw that! I’m not going to drag you around the course!
I take off again. So much for saving energy for a lead-out.
This time, no one chases me. I’m off the front for 5 laps. I think to myself, keep going as long as you can. Phill won’t chase. He can conserve a bit as the others chase. With about 2 laps to go, the inevitable happens, and the peloton catches me. I’m able to stay within about 200 meters of the peloton, and at the finish I hear the announcer say that Phill has won the race! I was so happy, I felt like I had won myself.
Afterwards, Phill tells me that after I went off the front, only a few guys chased, and he simply followed their wheels. On the last lap, he led them all out, was first into Turn 4, and held them off to the finish. Congrats on the win, Phill! This was a very fun day of racing with certainly the most satisfying 15th place I’ve ever finished.