When I crossed the finish line first at the Stanford road race with enough time to sit up and take in the moment, I hadn’t been the strongest rider for the past three hours. That is the frustrating beauty of cycling, the strongest doesn’t always win, the smartest and the one with a little (or a lot) of luck usually gets to salute.
I rolled away in the first mile with a Stanford rider and the pack sat back for what sounded like a tempo ride. Another Stanford guy bridged with the lone Santa Barbara guy in the race. It was breakaway as usual for the next few hours. I chose to lead up the climbs to set the pace and let the rest work more on descents and flat roads. I really started hiding from the wind on the hideous head wind section once we had established a 7 minute lead.
With approximately twenty miles to go we dropped the SB rider. I was initially pleased, but this lead to a barrage of attacks from the Stanford duo. I actually welcomed these attacks, because they didn’t put me in trouble and I could refuse to work after they began. One attack almost got me when both riders got up the rode, but I grit my teeth and latched back on the group. (rule #1 of breakaways, never get dropped)
Coming into the finish, the primarily downhill and tailwind ten miles made closing attacks easy. We got an update from the moto-ref that a chase group was beginning to gain on us, so we started to work together again to make the break survive. I continued to sit on the most, with one Stanford kid doing the lion’s share of the work and his teammate appearing to be queuing up for the sprint.
I seemingly ruined the parade for the Stanford twosome when I attacked on the final hill with 1.5 miles to go. I was certain that one Stanford rider would chase, and the other would pass me, leaving me with a respectable 2nd. However, once I realized that I actually had a chance, the final moments of suffering were easy. With a football field length to go, I recognized that I had struck the lethal blow and soft pedaled across the line.
I don’t think my attack or tactics would have a high success rate over time, but sometimes everything just falls in place and that is what makes cycling a beautiful sport.
Thanks so much for everyone’s support this weekend and thanks to boss man John Tomlinson for putting some unwarranted faith in me. Let’s keep notching up the W’s.