I have been thinking about Page Valley all week. I even borrowed a set of wheels a week ago and FedExed them, but they did not get here in time so I had to ride my trust old heavy Cosmics. I wanted to do well at Page Valley because I could secure the MABRA BAR and it is the Virginia State Championship Road Race - where I live and the MABRA Championship Road Race, where my team is from.
The news said it was going to be hella hot so I busted out my cooler for the first time this year and packed it with 10 water bottles and ice to hand off to Michelle, Jose's wife. Thank God she comes to the races!
On the 1st lap, Kevin Long, the moto ref who probably moonlights as Santa, pulled the whole field over, and he was pissed. Although there was not a yellow line on the road, we were all violating the center line rule. I had always thought that when there was not a center line, the center line rule was not in effect, but judging how angry he was, not only did I not say anything, I started scooting to the right side of the road in a way not to bring attention to myself. When you think about it, the center line rule when there is no center line makes perfect sense because we are not out there to block oncoming traffic or worse run into it.
On the second lap, I drilled it for a while and I was hoping others would do the same to make the field smaller, but when I pulled off, a pretty good group rolled off to include Evan Fader, Mike Githens, Brian Vaughn and a Kelly guy. Who was missing was Harley, DC Velo and NCVC. If this group would have stayed away I would have been the catalyst for their escape and that would have been a huge mistake. Luckily Brian Butts set tempo and we flew by them a lap later on the long climb like they were standing still.
Later that lap Nate Wilson and I got away and were joined by Ramon Benitez, Chebacca (Jason Meidoff) a ABRT guy who could climb well and later by Jeff Brandon - who decided to go straght into the grass when everyone else was taking a sharp left. We never saw Jeff again.
I think we got a good gap because all of the teams were represented, except for NCVC. Going up the climbs we went easy and waited for the guys who fell off the pace a little. At one point we got 3 minutes.
When the moto ref told us our gap dropped to 1 minute and 40 I took a long pull. At the base of the climb the moto said we had 2 minutes and 30 on the pack and 45 on the chase. What chase? I looked back and only Nate Wilson was on my wheel so I realized the chase was the other 3.
The last lap was the hardest. I tried half hearted to get rid of Nate in hopes he would just pop, but he hung strong. Right before the long climb he suddenly stopped pedaling and I had no ideal why, but he later told me he was cramping. He clawed his was back. I sat on his wheel up most of the climb because I pulled the last one, and as we crested I could see a Harley Jersey on it's way. The moto said there was one guy coming across, and I did not tell Nate it was one of my teammates, I just sat on him (we were going very slow) looked back and waited for which ever teammate it was of mine to catch on.
When it was obvious the rider behind was not going to catch on I pulled up next to Nate and we began sprinting. About half way up the hill, I unclipped and thought it was over - but I could see the finish and hear just about everyone cheering for Nate. I think all of that cheering is what I needed to click back in and kick it past him to the line. I know this may be one of the last times I beat him because he is on the rise and I am getting older.
The rider behind us was Jose Escobar, who just recently upgraded to a cat 1. Every race he is better and better and is doing well be it crit or road race.
After the sprint I felt like I was going to die and every muscle in my body hurt. I could barley ride back to the cars.