What a difference a year makes. Last year my first race ever was Mason 3 where I finished mid-pack after a nerve racking 3 laps around the lake. In that race I struggled to hold my position, let alone move up in the pack. With a year of racing under my belt I found Mason 1 to be a much different experience. We were 10 strong in a 75 rider field. Last year I discovered I like riding in the front of the pack a lot better than in the middle or back, so this was to be my personal approach for this race. I should mention that my goal for 2010 bike racing was to get a top 10.

To my knowledge we didn’t have an organized game plan. That said, our racing tactics seemed to develop pretty well in a highly organic fashion. Early in the 1st lap I found myself on the front with (Joe?) and recall saying that we probably shouldn’t be expending energy like this! A few minutes later after allowing a few riders to roll through I was up front again next to Tom Potter. (Thanks Tom for the pointers). He said we should push the pace a bit, so we traded going off the front to speed things up. I kept thinking to myself that I shouldn’t be doing this so early because I won’t have anything left for the finish. I was just careful to not push to hard so I could recover when back in the pack. The first lap and a half was pretty straight forward. It was great to see team members taking turns pushing the pace and covering attacks. On the first lap I got off the front once with another rider, but not enough gap, nor gas in my tank to do much. On the second lap in roughly the same place I saw 2 riders go (teams unknown) with Adam and Tim hot on their wheels. With 2 teammates on the front I hooked onto Tim’s wheel which put 5 of us in a break on the curvy rollers.
Dave Gordon and whoever else was upfront started blocking while the five man break developed a nice gap, but we couldn’t get organized well enough soon enough. My lack of experience played a part in that I’m sure. It wasn’t long before some other teams countered and the gap was closed; unfortunately just as we were caught and a counter attack could have been launch we started overtaking crash 5s (actual bikes and bodies on the road) and we were neutralized. We finished the last 1/3 of lap 2 riding easy tempo past the start finish (hence photo of Jim and I riding easy on the front) and were released after the right hander at the intersection. From here things picked up. Holbrooks decided to set pace for the early part of the riser…. a tempo that had me on edge for a moment!!!! The wind was stiffer and attacks were attempted but covered. At this point I was just trying to stay alert, do what I could and conserve energy to be able help the team at the end. It also became a lot more sketchy. I found myself looking over at a rider on my left wobbling on the centerline and thinking PLEASE FALL THE OTHER WAY. I didn’t know what was going on with him, I just knew I wanted to be someplace else. Tim later said he had hooked bars with a rider on his left and was trying to unhook, hence the wobbly wobbly. Anyway, I decided to try and move up and away from him. The next thing I know the pack slowed and now I’m wedged between 2 riders. I just stuck out both my elbows for solid contact on each side and kept my line… soon I moved up through them and it was back to racing. Whew! That was close.
I have realized I am much more aggressive this year… sometimes not afraid to take or make a spot for myself in the pack. Sometimes, not always:) It started getting crazy as we began overtaking dropped riders. I knew I wanted to be in the top 10 at the next corner, so as not to be blocked in near the end, unfortunately I let myself drift too far back. Then, at a point right near the Marina we came upon the injured rider that had hooked bars and crashed. A big SUV was blocking our lane to protect the incident, so we had a crazy sketchy time going around… another whew! and then it was on for the high speed corner after the bridge. At this point I think I was 20 or 30 back and having trouble moving up. I also began hearing this crazy squeeling sound and thinking… dude.. get off your brakes. Then I noticed it was coming from my bike when I coasted ( I know, don’t stop pedaling in the peleton!). It was a good reminder, but a little distracting. My free hub was too dry (Thanks Derik and Joy Ride for the fix!) Tim let me in front so we were inline on the centerline, well actually just barely to the right of it:)
I decided to stay directly behind Dave Gordon, figuring he’d show me the way to the line, though I was not expecting to stay with him. At 1 K things noticeably picked up and I was able to move up spots on the fast downhill. At a point on the uphill just before the left hander where you finally see the 200K sign there was a big surge and a sudden slowing. I had just started to ramp it up knowing this was it when the sudden slow sent me right into Dave Gs back wheel…tick, ting, ting, tick as I rubbed spokes (my first wheel contact and great… it’s a teammate in a race). Fortunately we both stayed upright. I held steady and we surged again and somehow in the mayhem I found lanes to move… I felt like I was just taking any lane with enough room for my shoulders, but I don’t think they (the lanes) were really wide enough!!! At about 100K my legs were near dead and my right hamstring was cramped so bad I couldn’t get out of the saddle. It was a pretty lame sprint (literally), but hey, I left it on the race course, so I feel good about it. I ended up with 9th place just behind Dave. Overall Oly Ortho took 8th – 12th plus other positions in the pack.
Really didn’t think I would acheive my goal so soon. Dang, now I have to shoot for a podium or win!
Dan J, Dave G, Jim H. Tim H, Jamie S, Roger G, Tom P, Joe E, Adam T: I really enjoyed racing with you guys. I hope I didn’t miss anyone here. Everyone worked hard, attacked and covered attacks.
Cheers! Ron