I'd be lying if I were to deny being really happy about winning the Sugarhouse Crit (qualifier: Cat 3). It was one of those days when the stars were so aligned that when the cards were dealt, it was a no brainer: all in.
Part of what made the win (yeah, I like using that word) so sweet (aside from the fact that it is the only win of my cycling career) is that it was all in from the get go. I put in the inaugural attack and Taylor Hansen and I found ourselves in the inaugural break. After a couple laps, we were brought back, and my teammate Jake (who has a mullet that admittedly looks pretty cool) countered. After Jake came back, Jon put in a dig.
About 40 minutes into the race, things got hot when Ali Goulet attacked hard and opened up a huge gap -- he was going up the finishing hill when the peloton was just hitting the downhill. Taylor and Boudreau were next to flee the pack, followed by me and Mullet Jake. We all effected the bridge and formed a loose conglomerate. Of all the moves of the day, I thought that one would stick. But it didn't.
With 2 laps to go, I went to the front and did my best to up the pace so no one would attack. At 1 lap to go, we were all together again. At 3/4 of a lap, we were still together heading up the first "climb." At the top of the "climb," we were still together. And then by the entrance gate, there was a slight hesitation.
As soon as the pack hesitated, I stood up, jumped, and laid down my best finishing sprint. I got a gap. The pack didn't chase. I pedaled up the hill. And soloed (barely) across the line. Lucky!
Given that most of the times when I go all in, I end up going kamikaze, i.e., explosions and suicide, I've been asking myself why I decided to jump when I did. Mostly, it was because the DH told me to go if there was a hesitation. I owe a lot to DH for that advice. Partly it was because last year I had a gap at the top of the hill, but thought it was too early to open up a sprint, and have been regretting and wishing I would have sprinted for the last year. And partly it was because of my race at Garden Creek; since then I have been kicking myself for not being aggressive enough. Lucky for me, I had those things weighing on me, and when the opportunity presented itself, I had the presence of mind to place my bet.
Perhaps the funniest thing was that once I had opened up the gap, I rode the whole downhill somewhat confused. I looked back, expecting to see a pack of 40 killer bees swarming down on me. Instead there was a sizeable gap. When I hit the uphill, rather than sprinting, I was thinking, "man, maybe there were two laps to go. I'm going to look kind of dumb sprinting with one lap to go." Even as I crossed the line, I wasn't 100 percent certain I had won. If there are any photos, they will likely depict me with my arms outstretched to the 4 and 8 o'clock positions. Not the typical 10 and 2 or 11 and 1 o'clock positions -- positions that I have practiced so many times when sprinting against myself in remote areas (admit it, you have too!). Although I'm not complaining, I wouldn't mind having that finish all over again.
Anyway, nice job to all those who participated, and remember, when it's time to place your bets, go all in.
PS I'm going to be posting an interesting interview with Ian Tuttle this week. Stay tuned.