Sunday, August 5, 2007

ZOAR Cat 1-3 08/05/07

My little moto to start this race story is "Never Give Up".

My team mate Tom Keller and I arrived to rain in very quaint ZOAR. We left unpacking and dressing a bit too late, but got a short warm-up in anyways. First lap was uneventful, but it allowed me to see the two climbs. Well I had a momentt when I came into a corner, noticed my speed was much higher than those in front and when I went for my wet brakes I wasnt slowing at all. I had to take a wide line around Quinlan to not T-bone him and got yelled at by a guy I had to cut-off. I apologized, planned on explaining, but I never saw him again (he didnt crash if you must know).

The only race action on the 2nd lap was a small group coming off the front. I was stuck on the right against the side of the road when I saw Batke take off and Dan Quinlan went too. I absolutley would have gone then as I knew I would work and we would have a good shot at staying away. But when I got free it would be a long bridge and also with Grimm, RGF, A&F, UPMC and so many other fast guys I figured wed have them back soon.

But the pace slowed till we hit the 2nd climb (edit: actually pace slowed on the third lap) and there gap was established and growing. Everytime up the 2nd stair step I was ok till the final pitch when every lap Tris and others would punch it over the top. The first time we hit it with 34 racers. I got dropped and on the descent slammed it into the 11 and pulled a lot of guys back to the break. Man was I flying on the descents today.

This went on lap after lap. I'd get dropped and chase back on the descent. But everytime I did there were less riders coming with me. On lap 3 or 4 I think I was dragging two guys and one was yelling at me-I dont know what he was saying. They came around and took pulls as we got close and when I had rested I blasted across the final little gap and got yelled at again. I can only imagine he was saying work together or something. I didnt know it was my job to drag other teams back into the race. Besides, I never heard anyone say "thanks" for the 3 times I dragged everyone across before.

So basically I was fine all lap long, but that last pitch got me dropped. But I didnt give up and I just hammered and hammered and hammered till I got back on everytime. Then something unexpected happened and I thought we were starting lap 4 , but the bell rings!!! We'd already done 4 laps and the field was down to 15 or so. So the last lap saw Jeremy Grimm attack a few times and the UPMC guys were turning up the heat at times too. At one point Jeremy got away with a handful of guys and I was late to move. I realized I had better bridge it and came across hard as the group sat-up. But I had such a nice head of steam as came across I decided to just go right around them.

I figured no one would chase and thats exactly what happened. I could tell they were letting me dangle as I loked back and saw themn 4 across on the tops, but I was somewhere between tempo and threshold and maintaining a nice gap with about 5 miles to go. I also got to fly through the two slow corners and figured that would help my gap as the group was overslowing all race long. As we approached the 2nd hill I started to ramp up the watts and hoped I wouldnt blow and I think I actually climbed the 2nd hill better than when I was in the group. They finally passed me with Tris out of the saddle at the top of the climb, but this time my gap allowed me to come over the top only 50' behind and I chased on quicker with the help of Matt Weeks.

Once back in the group I noticed we had whittled the group down to only about 10. A few guys flatted but all in all I think the constant rain (and a downpour for a short spell) and whicked speed over the 2nd climb and down the descent shed most of the guys.

I felt fine and almost chastised myself for trying a long flyer, maybe I'd be stronger at the end if I hadnt, but I thought my move worked some good too. But I also knew I was flying down the descents and if I had come over the top with any sort of gap I would have been flying to the finish and if anyone caught me, they would be as gassed or more than me.

The final turns approached and it was mayhem with me going from 7th to 4th wheel and back again as surges went and came back. Two or three guys sent attacks before 200m. I was lucky to get Grimms wheel in the final 200, but a guy came up flying past me and took the wheel and I was blocked in again and had to start my sprint later than the rest.

I got in a battle with Noah Metzler for 5th in the group (last paying spot of 7) for what seemed like 20 seconds and we seasawed at 36mph in the rain and as we hit the line he beat me by inches. I was hopeful that I was the first Cat.3, but Josh Halfax (sp?) from Columbus got 4th in the sprint. He walked away with a $100 gift certificate too!!!

So the old adage never give up rang true today. Had a I given up when I was dropped all 5 times on the 2nd climb I never would have made it to the final, fun, crazy wet sprint. I had even quickly planned a flyer from outside 200m or so, but never got a chance or a whiff of the open road in front. I walked away form Zoar TIRED and happy as can be!! I cannot wait to do it again next year. Heres a link to the course profile:

And now results:

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