We had a squad of about 7 today at mason lake, which allowed us a ton of flexibility in our planning. Our main plan was to begin to position up front going into the last lap and throw down out front, leadout style. We wanted to reserve energy for a pack finish, which we thought was probable.
Well that all played out…kinda.
The race started off with a weird neutral rollout, where people seemed to be jockeying for position. That wasn’t fun to deal with in a rollout. Here and there, some people were repeatedly sketchy, but I had the sense that the headwinds and all the small rollers contributed to the full-peloton accordions. The race was 5 laps, with the first 4 smelling like nothing other than melting brake pads and carbon. I spent the majority of my time near the back of the peloton, while the rest of the guys stayed near the front. They wanted to be ready for any hijinks going down and not get caught in the mess. This was a good plan, as we reeled in every single/double rider attack easily. Well, except for Will. But I’ll get to that later. Long story short, the teams represented in the peloton did very little work to get away or push the pace. We’d go 14mph up some of the dopey little rollers on the highway. I wanted to gouge my eyes out.
We pass the start/finish, beginning the final lap and we are still pretty strung out. Chad had a puncture early in the race, around the second lap so we were down one guy. Ed took control of the front once we turned onto the highway, with multiple pulls out in the very front. Then Will attacked…solo (go figure). I saw it and immediately had nightmares from last week’s carnage. I kept asking, yelling into the wind,”is anyone going to attack him OR WHAT?” I knew very well how strong he was and that if he hid around a corner just in front of us, the nonworking and mostly complacent peloton wouldn’t care. The anger welled up inside of me. Ed kept hammering it, with us yelling at him to quit gapping us! It was nuts. We were all amped to get this race done with. By the right turn going into the descent, Will had vanished just out of sight but only about 15 seconds ahead. It was something we could catch, but did the rest of Apex know about it?
Turns out, Travis and Cemanski did not know he was still out there. Scott and I did. I don’t think Connell did. So it was confusing to all of us since we really were not communicating that the lead car was most definitely not right in front of us. Anyone with a brain would have figured out that meant we were just a chase group to some guy up the road. Anyway..
Scott jumped out in front after the descent, with the pace picking up. He got a little gap and didn’t know it until looking back. Connell had a brilliant line up the left side which me and Cemanski slithered up in tow. Connell eased up and Cemanski and I drilled it, yelled at Scott to hop in, and started the most massive leadout I’ve ever seen. Travis was already up front when we got there, so he hopped in too. And there we have it. 10 minutes from the finish line and we have 5 guys on the front of the pack. Could we catch Will? Would we stay in control?
Without communicating a single bit, Cemanski and I proceeded to take vomit-inducing 300-500-watt pulls on the very front, rotating in a tight 2-man lead machine. Travis, Scott, and Connell were right on our wheels but I don’t remember the order they were in the whole time since I was blacking out. Cemanski and I were teetering around 30mph for the duration of these pulls, while Travis was absolutely yelling at us “HTFU!!” “Come on! Go! Go! Go!”. Every time I’d melt a bit, Travis would bark at me more, angering me and making me turn the screws just a little more. Nobody was passing us. It was all Apex in the front. It was mayhem. Travis was totally protected behind us, just laughing at how much work we were doing.
Cemanski took a monstrous final pull with about 2k to go and I dragged us into the 1k sign, dispatching Travis about halfway up a small final hill to the finish. He immediately took the helm, pushing past me like I was stopped, dragging all 50 or so riders with him. I saw him disappear with Connell and Scott (all still up front) around that dicey final left turn. They were hauling ass, but the pack was advancing. Cemanski and I faded backwards as everyone charged past us. I was so spent, I barely made it to the finish line.
I didn’t get to see the finish, but it looked like a 4th for Travis and a 5th for Scott! I’ll take it!
After the race, we all stopped and talked, half of us reminding the other half that one person was indeed up the road the whole time. Next race: communication skillz!
Here’s my power file from that last 10 minutes. It was bonkers.