In my first race as a Cat 4, teammate Jim and I were the only IDTB's in the 25 rider field and agreed on an ambitious race plan - DON'T CRASH. I proceeded to f-up that plan at mile 2 with a spectacularly un-Hoorgarland style fall as we slowly......like really slowly inched up towards Patterson Pass. Somehow I got my front wheel in the gravel off the edge of the road and went straight down hard on my left elbow........and then I got run over. I don't remember getting run over but after the race I noticed chain grease across my jersey and chainring divots in my back. I popped back up quickly, straightened my left brake lever and took off after the pack which had sped thousands of centimeters up the road.
Now, as the resident pelaton dufus I took my place at the back of the pack and tried to get my stunned and frozen little fingers to work again. With the stiff headwind nobody wanted to lead so we proceeded up to the pass in leisurely 25ish minutes. The rest of lap 1 was more of the same - nobody wanted to work so we came by the start/finish line with the original starting group intact.
After passing under the railroad tracks Jim took the lead and began to pick-up the pace. As the group strung-out I moved up into the top 5 riders to be ready if anyone attacked. No attacks came but a couple other stronger riders came to the front to push the pace. I continued to suck wheel until 100m from the pass when I moved off the front to ensure a clear (safe??) road for the descent. As we turned onto Flynn I saw the group was down to 8 riders but unfortunately Jim was not among them.
I stayed at the front and pushed the pace up Flynn hoping to spit out any weaker riders. We lost only one on the ascent and a Mike's Bikes rider who over-cooked the downhill hairpin left on Flynn Rd. The remaining all moved the pace along pretty well for the next few miles. Nobody wanted to do a ton of work at the front but all wanted the pace fast enough to keep any stragglers from re-joining.
As we turned right onto Midway Rd the cross-wind struck and a little jockeying ensued. 1 rider finally put the hammer down as we passed under 580 and it was game on. I found a good wheel in 3rd place sheltered from the cross wind but started to get dropped as we neared the crest of the hill. Seeing a possible win slipping away I sprinted like it was the finish to catch the two leaders before the downhill. A fourth rider also bridged up and we stayed out front until the final 2 corners. I was well positioned in 3rd as we started the sprint but just didn't have the legs to "meep, meep bitch" or even keep up with the first 2 riders. The 4th rider came around with 50m to go leaving me in 4th overall at the finish line.
Regardless of the 4th place finish and crashing, I had fun and got another road race under my belt. Thanks to Hans for the birthday cake for me (42) and Eric (41). IDTB was looking good on the roads of Patterson Pass and hogging the podium.....as it should be.