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My Favorite Race
My Favorite Race
I am by no means a stud racer dude. Those who know me know I'm the guy who sits on wheels and hopes it all stays together for a sprint at the end. I enjoy the challenge of racing and once in a while, I get a result. This story is about one such day.
There is a beauty in bicycle racing. It's dynamic and exciting. Racing tests the extreme limits of your strength and will. When it all comes together it's magical.
On a partly sunny day in March of 1999 I had a near perfect day of racing. I hit my peak perfectly. I was having an "a" day. The peloton chased down all of the early breakaways with me tucked comfortably out of the wind.
With 7 miles to go Gary put a gap between himself and the peloton on the course's longest climb. After a decent and a short steep climb he was almost out of sight. The peloton began to react and bridge groups went off the front hoping to close the gap. This decimated the peloton. A chase group of around 12 riders formed to reel him in. I jumped into that group and rode wheels. As the group rotated through I would take my turn soft pedaling and not rotating off the front to slow the pace. Gary is a friend and even though he was racing for another team, I would do all I could to disrupt the chase.
Counter attacks began to jump off the front. I would jump into these groups to disrupt anyway I could. I would create gaps in the pace line and slowing the pace when I was at the front. More counter attacks would come and my legs were good enough to respond.
Gary kept the hammer down, cruising at more than 44 kph alone with the chase sometimes closing the gap to 5 seconds. His performance was awesome and I had a front row seat!
The counter attacks whittled the group down even farther. Tempers began to flair within the chase. This brought more counter attacks but all fell short of Gary's wheel. His brilliant gamble was paying off. I just marked the attempts and got a free ride.
With 2 km to go, Gary had increased his lead to 15+ seconds. It became apparent the chase wouldn't organize and tow the sprinters to the line. This was a race for second place. ****The racers sized up the remaining of the chase and an 80 km race came down to a 6 up match sprint. The non-sprinters made fruitless attempts to escape. Gary crossed the finish line in victory more than 500 meters ahead of the dicing chasers.
When the bunch sprint began with 350 meters to go, I was perfectly positioned behind the two remaining sprinters. With 200 meters left I uncorked my best ever sprint. I managed to get a gap and ride across the finish line in second place pumping my fist shouting "Way to go Gary!"
It was amazing, as storybook as I've ever been in. Gary's daring move worked to perfection. He caught the peloton sleeping and they underestimated his strength.