Day 1 Pro/1 race
Saturdays Pro/1 race was a sort of preview for Sunday's Pro race. It was 83 miles, the Sunday 60 loop preceded by a smaller loop that contained a pretty treacherous super fast rocky pot-holed twisting decent. On this decent, the break away of 16 riders (including Russ) went clear and stayed away the whole race.
I flatted about halfway, got a wheel change and caught back on. The effort was welcome because I was freezing from the rain and it brought my body temp back up.
With about 10 miles to go, a BMC rider jumped away on the rolling gravel hills, and I gave chase.
I never caught him, but I did catch a Type 1 guy who got dropped from the break and we worked together for a bit, then he hand slung me over the last gravel hill and sat up. I kept the tempo and passed a few more guys who got shelled from the break.
Leaving the last dirt section, I realized I had a front flat and rode for the final 6 miles for 14th. The officials recorded me as finishing the cat 2 race, which didn't get fixed until the next day - too late for the Cycling news post (which I think would have been cool), but Russ got 8th and Keck got 2nd in the field sprint.
Day 2, Pro race
Much faster than day 1, and the hills seemed easier because we went over them quicker. My chain got twisted up and I dropped back, got it fixed, chased back up through the caravan and caught back on. It was hard, but I didn't panic and leap frogged from car to car and caught the field right before a climb.
Next I flatted my rear wheel. Same deal, drop back got it changed worked with an Ouch guy and a Bissel guy and caught back on.
My next two flats came simultaneously on either the 5th or 6th dirt road. I saw this good sized rock bouncing through the field like a ping pong ball, then like a magnet it found both my wheels. I knew my front was flat cause we were descending and I had no control and it felt like I was sliding on butter through a turn. I couldn't raise my hand to signal to other riders I had a flat as I was veering out of control at speed. I barley keep my bike up and didn't take anyone down. This time the wheel vehicles were way back because so many guys were flatting. When I finally got my front wheel changed, I hopped back on coasted for a bit and realized my rear was flat too. I got off and pulled my rear wheel and held it up. SRAM got out of the car and quickly changed my rear, and off I went. Luckily the Kenda Pro vehicle came flying by with 3 of it's guy in tow so I swung on. I was red lined, but we caught back on.
My last flat happened on the 7th gravel section. The support vehicles were so far back fixing other flats at this point that it took several Ice Ages before I saw him. While he was changing my wheel the SRAM guy asked if I thought I could catch back on again. I said I wasn't sure, I was pretty fried chasing back on the last 3 times (it is hard to catch back on to the field in a pro race). I think he said 'good, I am running out of wheels'.
This time, the caravan was long gone. Most the riders around had been blown out the back, but I gave it a dig in hopes of something magical happening. I just started drilling it. I got behind camera bikes, medical support, whoever and just focused on catching back - all the while passing tons of guys with flats and mechanicals. When I got to the top of a roller, I could see the field about three rollers away - single file.
The SRAM vehicle came flying by, but never slows to tow because of the ever present official next to him. My last hope disappeared in the distance and I finally cracked.
What I learned:
1. I have the ability to have 3 flats/mechanicals in a pro race and catch back on.
2. The 4th time I have to catch, I probably should bag it and save it for another day.
3. Clinchers are not ideal for rocky conditions.
4. Watching the BMC guy win made me burn inside. I want to do that.