Yesterday was the Nebraska State Road Race. Last year this was my first road race and I did not perform very well and ended up getting spit out of the pack and riding most of the race alone. I had different plans going into this years race. I did have some concerns of how I would do cause of last weeks poor performance on the MTB. But I was actually feeling pretty good so I was confident that I would at least be able to stay in the pack.
Our team was hosting the race so I had to get to the venue which was at Branched Oak lake. The course we did was around the lake which is part of my Sunday morning 50 miler that I do in the off season so I was pretty comfortable with the route but I was still there at 6:30 am. When we got there we got busy setting up the tents and registration and then we were off to clear the course and get the signs up.
After I we had everything done we got back and started getting ready. I had Rick racing with me this race so that helped ease the nerves I had going in. I knew I was going to be being watched in the race. I'm still not used to being one of the marked guys or the guy people are keeping an eye on.
When it was time to get lined up I really realized how big the field was. There was 52 riders in my category plus the women 3's and 4's which left the field a group of about 65 riders. That is a way bigger field than I'm used to riding in. When we got going we had about a 1.5 mile lead out and I was stuck in the middle and there were all sorts of unnerving riding going on. Lots of people grabbing to much of their brakes and not holding lines. I was sure I was going to end up getting crashed out and came real close a couple of times.
We had to do three laps around the lake and I was waiting for someone to attack the field but nobody did. I was really itching to get going but I stayed in the pack not wanting to push to early and not sure I would get anyone to come with me who would actually want to work and not just have me and Rick pull them through the race. So I just kept in and kept on eye on the front to make sure that any of the guys that I knew were fast didn't take off.
At the beginning of the each lap there was a huge stair step climb that we had to go up and on the last time up it a group attacked off the front. I barely was able to see them going but they had established a little bit of a lead and I decided to make a break and bridge up but the only problem was when I went so did everyone else and I put in a huge amount of effort so and ended up getting on with the break only to have the rest of the field catch back up. So at that point I decided to stay in the group until the end.
When we finished our final lap and made the turn in to go back the 1.5 miles to the finish I was able to move myself towards the front. I knew a couple of guys who were up there and me and one of them said lets go and we took off and tried to get a gap. We weren't able to establish much of a lead and then I made a move to make a break on a climb but when I got to the top I realized I wasn't as close as I thought and I didn't want to try and go by myself the rest of the way with everyone closing in on me so I let the leaders catch back up and we were going again. Next thing I know I hear Rick come blazing up on the side saying let's go and a friend of mine Jeremy Cook went with him. Rick drove me up to the front and we were rolling towards the final turn into towards the finish line. As we hit the turn I got pinched to the inside corner and was barely able to keep my bike on the road so I had to make a huge surge to catch up with the leaders. When I saw the line I was sitting in 4th place and I made my sprint for the line. I had so much force in my bike when I was sprinting that I could hear the wheels flexing and rubbing (I need stiffer wheels) I made it around the other two guys but ran out of space to catch the leader ending up in 2nd place.
As I sat and thought about the race I started to think about what I could have done at the end to get the win but then I think back to how I performed last week and say "I'll take it". Not a bad way to end my road season. I ended up 2nd in State also leaving me as the State Champion in Crit racing and State Runner up in Road Racing for Cat. 5 in Nebraska. Now I'm looking forward to next season when I make the move up to Cat 4. My overall goal is to end up as a Cat 3. I ride with some Cat 4's and think I'll be able to hang next season. We'll See. Now I got to start thinking about next weekends race in Council Bluffs it will be the last MTB race of the season and then it's time to get ready for "cross" the following week. Later.