I love this race, but hate the descent. Somewhere in the process of getting old I have become a chicken...
Anyway, as soon as the climb started Chris Phipps attacked. It looked like a case of stravacide (Stravacide [strah-vay-sahyd] verb. The action of ruining a training ride in the pursuit of pointless Strava Leaderboard advancement. Definition courtesy of @MTFU_Training) Josh Dapice went with
Chris and Dan Martin bridged up a little later. Behind we rode a hard tempo. We rode the first section of the climb at threshold and the second
section at just a bit under. All the while the guys up front were slowly riding away from us. I tried to ride a hard tempo on the third climb to
keep the gap from getting too big and to try and whittle the group down. I got some help from Harlan Chapman, Andres Gil and Matt Carino. Matt's pulls towards the top were particularly painful.
Towards the top we saw Dan Martin up ahead coming back to our group. At about the same time Ken Gallardo attacked our group. It didn't seem like
much of a threat at the time, but he railed the descent to close a 1:50 gap to the leaders. I on the other hand rode my usual abysmal descent and ended up in the second half of our group when we got to Isabel Creek. On the plus side I didn't crash this year! Chris Lyman though rode an excellent descent to make the front group. After a relatively short chase our group came back together and we started cooperating to chase the three leaders.
We ended up with a group of about 12 and though not everybody worked, the guys who were inclined to work were smart enough to know that the non-workers probably couldn't work as opposed to wouldn't work. For the most part our group worked well together without too much of the starting and stopping that can kill a chase and let the gap balloon. Dan Martin in particular was tireless in the chase. I also worked a lot hoping to set Chris up for the finish. My legs were tired from the climb and chasing and I thought Chris would be fresher at the end.
Somewhere around 10 miles to go I was able to look ahead and see the leaders. I make a time check that had them about 1 minute ahead. We were
getting there, but still had some work to do.
That last 10 miles was really fun. The road twists and turns and we were pushing the whole time. On the last descent into the short, flat valley
before the finish, Dan Martin really pushed it with me on his wheel. As we got to the flat valley I could see the leaders just ahead. It was going to
be close, but I thought we could get them so I buried myself pulling across the valley. We caught Chris and Josh at 200m to go. Ken was just ahead. I took one more hard pull to set up the sprint and Dan Martin came by just as the road started uphill with Dan Bryant and Nathan Parks behind. I had done my job and was blown so I started to sit up and then look behind, but there was only one person there so I gave what little I had left and barely held off what turned out to be Chris Phipps for 5th.
As it turns out, our group split on that last descent and Chris Lyman got caught in the second half of the group.
After milling about for close to an hour and collecting prizes we started our ride back to the start in San Jose. I had to chase for about a quarter
mile to catch the group and I swear that was the hardest part of my day! My legs were NOT happy with me.
We had a huge group and for once we rode more or less sensibly back to San Jose. Usually there is at least one person that obviously didn't go hard
enough in the race that can make things uncomfortable, but this time it wasn't so bad.
Now here is the interesting part. Using Strava.com and Paul Mach's new site raceshape.com you can see how the race develops. Follow the link below to
see the data. As you use the mouse to move along the course you can see Chris and Josh ride away from the group (represented by me, Chris Lyman and
Ken). Then Chris drops Josh towards the top and you can also see Ken attack our group and watch Chris, Ken and Josh come together at Isabel Creek.
Meanwhile behind watch Chris Lyman drop me on the descent, then we come together and sloooowwwwlllly bring the leaders back. If you add in somebody
from the pro race, say Chris Stasny you can see how they rode a much more tactical climb, but rode the rest of the course much faster to virtually
catch and pass our group towards the end.
Race Shape data