I'm going to sacrifice detail for timeliness for two reasons: 1) I'm pretty beat; and 2) I don't want to steal any thunder from what I hope will be a very detailed account by SDC about today's race. Oh, and another reason: I wanna post the few pics Mrs. SOC was able to get ASAP along with a GREAT finishline video.
The two main highlights of today's race: 1) LARGE team presence - 8 guys total, including 2 racing with us for the first time (one in his first Cat 3 race in a long time, one in his first Cat 3 race ever); and 2) BIG team win - SDC pulled out an awesome sprint to be the first over the line.
It was probably the coldest race so far in this series - even colder and more raw than the rainy races a couple weeks ago. But our turnout shows that EXPO doesn't mind the cold - (L to R) Paul, SOC, Drew, Dennis, Mike, Steve, and Lance. True to form, SDC was finishing up promoter duties and hadn't arrived yet - this time not even getting his usual 19 second warmup, since he walked his bike over.
This race was the team's biggest opportunity so far to move SDC up the standings, the race leader racing elsewhere today. IRS/Medic was well-represented to help their 2nd place GC and, like EXPO, preferred to keep things together for a sprint finish.
SDC made up for his lack of warmup by going almost from the gun. After that leg-opener, the attacks kept coming fairly regularly, but nothing stuck. IRS/M and Expo were doing their job chasing stuff down - probably frustrating to guys not having a team helping them.
With lingering fatigue the past week, I'd only ridden 20 miles all week (Saturday) and my stomach was giving me trouble this morning. So I had no illusions of being able to help out as much as I wanted. Thankfully, having more teammates took a lot of pressure off. I was still able to do a little though - photographic evidence above. I launched at the top of the hill, bridged to a break, and led for a lap.
And promptly cooked.
I spent the next bunch of laps trying to recover. Fortunately, the rest of EXPO worked hard to keep it together.
I saw every one of them doing their part, though unfortunately Mrs. SOC was only able to get this shot of Lance all-too-typically off the front, keeping the pace high. I often found myself near Mike in the pack, and was impressed he was able to keep pace in a Cat 3 race. As a Cat 4. On junior gearing(?!). (Mrs. SOC regrets that it was just too blasted cold today to get as many shots of the team as she usually does and promies to do better as it gets warmer!).
After 29 laps of chasing, bridging, slowing down, speeding up, and one close call with a guy in the final couple laps where his right hand, forearm, thigh and hip rubbed my left bar as he went by (notwithstanding that, today's race was a lot better than last week's squirrel fest), everybody was all together and the pace kicked up to its highest for the final lap.
It all came down to this:
Be sure to stay tuned to his blog for what I'm sure will be a much more exciting description from the FRONT end of the race.
Next weekend is Easter, so the Bethel series is on hiatus until April 11. There are only two races left - two more chances to move SDC up the GC for the win!