Henleyville is on the outskirts of Corning up by Chico. Drove up late Friday night and spent the night at the Corning rest stop. Got about 4-5 hours of sleep and headed over to the course 5 minutes away around 6:30am. Checked in at Reg, kitted up, ate breakfast, prepped the bike, drinks, food, and was ready to go at 8am. No teammates at this race and most of the fields were pretty small which was probably due to the location and how late in the season this race is. E4 was supposed to start at 8:10 but there was only 4 of us in E4 so the official gave us the option to combine with the M35+4s which we did. The 35+4s were 12 strong so much better then 4. Since we combined with the old guys we’d only do 3 laps(54 miles) instead of 4 laps(72 miles) and started a little later at 8:30.
Race started and we were off. The course is super flat, 18 mile loop on farm roads(a bit bumpy in spots and a few potholes), one small hill(more like a roller) where the feed zone is. The start/finish is flat. They originally had planned to have the finish on a hill on one of the side streets but they ended up changing it to just be at the start line. The whole race was pretty slow except the finish. There were only 2-3 occasions where the speed picked up higher then 22-23mph. A few guys got dropped but caught back on when we slowed down. Didn’t seem like any one wanted to work except one or two guys. I ended up at the front a few times. I wasn’t going to put too much effort into pulling the pack around so I pulled at around 21mph for a few miles and then went to the back. We passed the Women’s P/1/2 field on the 2nd lap, got passed by the Mens P/1/2 and M35+ 1/2/3 fields right before the finish. We got neutralized once after being passed and for a while were only doing 18mph after getting the green light again.
Heading into the finish we were still going pretty slow on the finish straight. The finish straight is about a mile and a half straight stretch. The last group that past us was still visible in front of us and some of the guys were saying they might interfere with our finish. It almost felt like we were riding neutral because of it but as the finish got closer that group sped up and was a none issue. Since we were heading into the finish pretty slow around 21mph i was able to move up to the front. I was third wheel when we hit the 1k to go and then all of the suden everyone swarms to the front and starts to take off. I lost quite a few spots but was hanging on to the pack. The 3 other E4s had huge sprints and moved to the front. I could not hang. I found myself on the outside of the pack. The guy next to me really wanted to get out and almost crashed into me. I let him out since he seemed a bit dangerous and he proceeded to crash into two other guys at about the 200m mark. Pretty scary mid sprint probably doing about 32-35ish. The pack blew up after that, I made it around the crash safely and rolled through the finish 4th(unfortunately it was out of 4) in E4 and i think 7 or 8th in the group.
I was pretty satisfied with the race(got a nice T-shirt out of it) after DNP in the last couple of crits. I know i’ve been getting stronger all year so I just really wanted to have a decent race before the end of the season. Had the finish been on the hill I think I might of had a better shot as I am not much of a sprinter. My form seems to be coming together more as a climber so i’ll probably be training more towards that during the off season. Other then seeing guys crashing while in an all out sprint the race was enjoyable.