February 23, 2010

Lago Vista, Texas

Saturday’s race started mellow with nice temperatures.  The course was six miles long and we were to do 15 laps.  Every lap consisted of a long grinding hill and a screaming fast 50 mph descent.  On lap two one of my two teammates decides to mix it up on the front and pulls the entire pack along with him for almost an entire lap.  He was redlined after this huge effort and was dropped on the next lap and pulled out of the race.  On the next lap, lap 4, my other teammate decides to take a flyer and gets about a 40 yard gap on the field.  The field decides to leave him out there to suffer for a bit.  Needless to say a lap later he is caught and spit out the back which leaves me once again by myself with no teammates.  (In their defense at least they made the start, unlike Zach Martin the week before.) 

About halfway through the race I was sitting about 10th wheel next to the reigning British Pro National Champion Kristian House, when Heath Blackgrove of team San Jose attacks on the hill and opens up a large gap with a few other riders.  Kristian then says to me that that is the move and that we need to get across to the break.  So being the rookie and obeying the commands of the champion of our eternal allies the Brits I oblige and bury myself bringing Kristian up to the break.  Once I get to the break another attack happens which I cannot answer and am later swallowed up by the pack.   I stayed in the group to the finish and end up getting 30th.

The next day is the same loop without the top part of the course.  It is 4 miles long with more laps.  Sundays race is usually harder because you do not have as much time to recover before going up the hill on every lap, and also because you have to do the hill more times.  The morning was windy and as the day went on the wind picked up even more.  By 12:30 the start time the wind was gusting 30mph.  Everybody knew the race was going to be a gutter ball nightmare.  The gutter balling started on the first lap with Team Hotel San José taking to the front and setting a very fast tempo.  Every lap people were shooting off the back on the hill to later drop out of the race.  Eventually a break happened with all the right players and ten people were up the road.  The peloton that I was still in was quickly diminishing and towards the end of the race was down to only eight people.  Every time through the start finish line I would look at the lap counter and cringe, thinking that there was no way in hell I would be able to finish.   The wind was blowing so hard and the hill seemed to get longer and longer every lap.  Finally the bell lap sounded and it was a beautiful sound.   I was felling awful on the last lap and was beginning to get cold and very light headed.  I was honestly getting scared of the decent coming up for fear that I might pass out.  I managed to finish 21st place.  One spot out of the money.  Out of 120 starters only 25 people finished the race.  It was honestly the hardest race I have ever completed and was happy to have finished.

-Kris French