So this years Cat's Hill played out well for the Kodak Gallery - Sierra Nevada Cycling Team. While, we were low on the numbers with only 3 riders, we managed to take control of the race and earn some good prizes doing it. We ended up with a win, a 5th place and I believe we won every prime and the king of the mountain prize. We canâ€™t complain with that!! Here is my recollection of the race:
I didnâ€™t know what to really expect this year as I hit the start line. I had missed the 2004 race because I was racing CapTech on the same day on the east coast. But, I did recall other years which usually consisted of a late attack that ended up forming the winning move, so I planned to expect this.
The race started out pretty fast. The reason I remember this is because within the first lap I found myself tailing off the back of the pack with no one behind me, not realizing how far back I actually was. In previous years I would hit Catâ€™s Hill hard early on and want to race hard from the gun. The reason behind this is because in previous years I always remember that there was a killer vacation package prize for the king of the mountain but, this year they didnâ€™t have the vacation prize. Another reason for my lack of early motivation was that I didnâ€™t believe other guys would be aggressive that early and if they were, I was confident they would be coming back.
As I sat in the back and tried to move up lap after lap I was watching my teammate Ben Jacques-Maynes constantly covering every move on the front. He did a fabulous job keeping the peloton at bay for the first half hour. When Glen Mitchell and I finally got to the front it was just about that time for the expected move to go. I felt bad at first because we both let Ben hanging, marking all the early moves but, he seemed to be doing fine without us and the extra time he bought us gave us a chance to get the legs going.
I canâ€™t remember the actual play by play move but, I do remember a lot of negative racing in the moves that were establishing. It was like the other teams were not happy with their numbers in any move that established. Glen worked like a mad dog for me. He told me he wasnâ€™t good for the day in the middle of the race and that he was going to work for me to make the winning move. So he repeatedly brought up the pace to launch me either into Catâ€™s hill or over the crest. Glen launched me several times and none of the moves were sticking, I guess they just didnâ€™t have the happy chemistry. I would have expected Glen, not feeling good on the day, to drop after doing all this work. But, later I found Glen again launching me into a move and then getting into the same move. This move was initiated by my good friend Zac Walker. It consisted of Zac, a webcor rider, Glen, and myself. We thought this move would be golden but, we were not working together and the clock was ticking as we noticed that Erik Saunders, and 2 other riders were drilling it hard to get across. With the pressure on, Glen mad dogged it on the front without hesitation. Glen knew he had to pull since we had two riders in the break and with Erik (Mcguires-Langdale) chasing and another webcor rider coming up with him the pressure was off of Zac and Ben Haldeman (Webcor) to work with us until their riders caught on. Glen must of pulled for 7 or 8 laps until the chasers cracked (by being on the front so many times Glen had the king of the hill competition wrapped up). Finally Glen had had enough and dropped off at about 5 laps to go leaving just three of us. Zac and I were rolling threw to keep the pace up but, we were worried about our third wheel Haldeman. I felt strong on the hill but, I knew Zac could motor if I gave him the chance. I decided to wait for the sprint since I was more confident with the sprint than a late attack. However, with 4 to go Zac and I were still nervous as Haldeman was still sitting on and we hadnâ€™t seen a pull from him the whole break. We expected him to launch a big move for the win so we kept the pace up and with 2 and 1 to go Zac lit it up on the hill and over the crest to try to disadvantage him. I knew Zac wanted to win his hometown race badly, and he knew I wanted to win at home also. So, we were not about to give the slightest chance to our third wheel. On the last lap Zac had ripped it all the way to the park where we notice a gap from our company and I took the front for the last 2 turns confident with my sprint and knowing Zac had dug deep. I ramped it up slowly and drilled it to the line and held of Zac for the win. While I was very happy to take the win I think I would have been just as happy to give the win to my best friend. However, when your team works as hard as Ben and Glen worked for me, I felt obligated to give it my all.
Afterwards, I found out, after all their efforts in the race; Glen still managed a 5th place and got the king of the hill while Ben won every prime in the race. It was a pretty good day.