Having completed one crit and adjusted to racing in circles, I was ready for my first American road race (also in a circle!) at Baraboo. I am more accustomed to road races in the 50+ mile range, but like the crits the shorter distances ensure loads of action from pretty early in the race.
My goals included staying with the bunch and just seeing what the story is over here, and being at the front in the wind up for the finish.
The weather was reasonably miserable, but fortunately we were spared a torrential down pour and were left to contend only with wet roads and a bit of wind. The wind slowed the start of the race and guys were pretty touchy heading away from the start before the first hill. I hung around in the middle of the pack and waited for the fireworks.
Things opened up on the first hill and from that point on I tried to stay near the front third of the bunch to ensure I was in touch with any action off the front. There were plenty of guys willing to sit on the front, which only became an issue later as they would not move over to let someone else take over pulling (and thus maintain the pack's speed).
Unbeknownst to me, a rider got away somewhere. We saw him on the first hill of the second lap. A chase ensued and we eventually caught him and then a couple of others. By the time we crested the second hill all the escapees had been reeled in, and the paced eased a bit as everyone took a collective breather.
Things were going steady as we went into the descent towards the finish. I checked my odometer. . .there were maybe two miles remaining. . .I was on about the 5th wheel or so, and feeling rested. The pace had eased off, and I reckoned everyone would be rested for a huge bunch sprint, so I gave it horns and took off in an effort to take the bunch sprint out of the equation and reduce the size of any finishing pack.
I was caught and then hung at the front for the last 0.5 mile or so, waiting for someone to jump. Not sure when they jumped---I was finished and could not hope to contend---but when it happened I just tried to hang in there and finish as high as possible. A finally saw a few teammates pass me, and thank goodness there was the line---I was stuffed!!!
I thinked I eeked out a 13th or so, which I was quite happy with. Many many thanks to all the guys who came up, and shame about all the mechanicals and punctures. Hope to see everyone again at Monsters this weekend!