I had put out there early in the year. The Blue Island race during Superweek was my target on the road. Being a southsider, I had figured that no one on the team would use this as a target, and that I would get some good support during the race. And what support I got. This being my first year of real racing and not fully understanding the way a race can unfold, I tried to make a plan. I rode the course earlier in the week and got a good feel for it and came up with some ideas. As I have said before, I like the communication between teammates before the race. It helps with calming the nerves, learning the about the course, and finding out what everyone wants out of the race. I guess then this becomes ‘The Plan’. What scared me here is that I was the focus of this plan. Loukas, Tom Briney, David Dokko, Jared, Alberto, and Nathan Gayeski were all in the race and were ready to work for me. So now I felt a little pressure. Not only that but I had a great cheering section of about 20 family and friends at the finish along with other teammates. Oh no More pressure.
So the race starts and goes out fast thanks to Jared and Alberto. After a couple laps, I want to test the field and take off on a break. So against the wind after turn four I go, and no one follows. This lasted for only a lap, as I didn’t want to tire myself too much being by myself and was only good for some photo ops. After this Loukas, Alberto and Tom really worked hard up front covering breaks and also pushing the pace. As I sat back to recover, I felt very confident with the help of my team. Everyone worked hard. Not much happened with the pace except the normal rotation of riders. Our plan was to get the lead out ready from about ¾ mile out. There is a slight up hill and we wanted to be at top speed by the top, and at the lead to take the down hill and hold it thought turn 3 and 4. Having sprinted with Loukas at the practices, he being faster than I, he was going to be the final leadout. But as the race progressed, both Loukas and Tom sacrificed for me and let me know that there was nothing left. So it’s up to me for the final lap. Right at the spot we wanted to hit it, three riders took off. I was about eight back and slow to react but got to their wheels after the third turn and just before the fourth. This is a great position I am thinking. When I approached the three, I was gaining fast and after the turn did not want to be facing a headwind by myself, so I eased up ever so slightly. Then it happened. I had lead the rest of the field to the three and was now getting boxed in. I wanted out and was impatient. So I tried to ease up more to get out and around the three the sprint started. And I was stuck. Slowing while everyone is speeding up. Just that split second mistake. So I hit it hard but see 4th place disappear, then 5th, along with 6th and then 7th at the line.
Disappointment sent in. But not for long. I know I am inexperienced and it was a tactical mistake I made. I saved myself for the finish and I did not push myself enough earlier. I had too much left. I was not that tired after the whole thing. I relied on everyone else and expected it to be handed to me. If I am going to Win, I have to fight for it, not just in the last mile. I have to make it happen. The disappointment in my finish came more so for and great xXx Racing Teammates. They worked so hard for me and I did not produce. I can’t say enough about the help I got that day. I learned more about team tactics, support, and sacrifice today. Wow. Thanks to everyone that put it out there for me in Blue Island. My vow as I said before was to help out the team, so that is what I am doing for the next three days of Superweek and then again in Evanston.