A few of the lads went up to Hood River last week to mix it up with some new faces. Brian Cadman originally sent this out to the team email list but I felt like it was worth sharing here. A lot of people even long time racers just don’t get the concept that road racing is a team sport. Even if you don’t ride for a team this is an important concept because you will be competing against teams so understanding how they work is crucial if you want to compete with them. A lot of MTB guys come over and get super frustrated because they just don’t get it. If you want to race to win you need to understand what you are up against, if you want to grind on the front all day that is fine too. Just don’t be pissed when you get smoked at the end.
Team riding is great when it works out. Yesterday at the Queen Stage of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, it worked out almost perfectly.
Nic Sells and I started the day 10th and 5th on the GC respectively. We did not talk about a race plan at the start, but we both knew we had to take opportunities when possible. Nic created an great opportunity by drilling it up the first big climb of the day to create a select group of 5. Included in this group was the 1st on GC, the third on GC, 8th on GC, Nic, and myself.
Because we all were improving our virtual position on GC, we had strong incentives to work together to gain a big advantage on the field. It was really great having such an excellent Big Ring representation in the break while also putting our stamp on the race. (As a quick aside, Nic and I both made it into the 8-man break on the the first stage of the race on Friday).
Finally, as we approached the last climb of the day, the 5 of us had gained a 3 minutes advantage on the field. When the leader of the race attacked at the bottom of a 10k hill and took with him the 8th place on the GC, neither Nic nor myself panicked. We rode tempo up the hill. with about 5k to go, we found that we had dropped the third on the GC. Nic selflessly worked his hardest to ride with me up the hill to help secure what we had hoped was a podium finish on the GC, while also securing a podium finish for Nic on the day. Nic, took third on the day. Unfortunately, the guy from 8th took enough time on us to secure 2nd on the GC, while the guy we dropped squeaked in just in time to hold onto third.
I think individually, and as a team, we did the best we could on the day. It was an experience I will remember, made even better by sharing it with my teammate, playing team tactics, and representing the Church of the Big Ring on one of the bigger stages in the US.
One other side note, I was fortunate enough to get a call-up at the criterium race in downtown Hood River and the announcer gave a lot of love to the Church of the Big Ring. Many remarked that racing in UT must be tough.
I am writing this to remind us all that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Racing with Nic this weekend made me better. Training and racing with the team has made me better. Pulling on the black fleece makes me better. I hope you all feel the same way.