So, we all spend much of our off bike hours chatting with one another hatching various schemes to employ during a race. When it comes right down to it during the race, it never happens. Oddly enough, prior to the Wheaton Masters Crit the XXX contingent made absolutely no plans……enter Mike Kirby and Brian Stockmaster.
Flash-forward. We cross the start/finish with 2 laps to go and the group strings out to find Brian in 1st wheel and Mike in second wheel. As we approach turn one I hear Mike ask Brian “where’s Joe?” Right out of turn one I let Mike know that I am on his wheel in 3rd position. Mike immediately takes command and yells out to Brian, “Joe is 3rd wheel. THIS IS A LEADOUT FOR JOE! Drill it, and DO NOT fail!!”
With that we are off.
We have two full laps left to go and I am trying to gauge whether the two of them can pull it off since they are the only two in the train for XXX. And then they do something that we have never practiced before that I thought was shear brilliance. As Mike begins to take his pull he tells Brian to pull back into second wheel and rest. Usually we practice our lead out so that the lead goes until they pop then they drop off. Mike made a brilliant move by setting it up this way rotating 1-2-1-2 and the two of them drilled it down the back stretch with 2 laps to go at 29mph. No one was going pass us.
The bell lap. I am starting to plan where I go. I don’t know if they can get me through turn 4. If they do I jump regardless of if they have anything left. But I am also thinking these two guys are looking so strong they might just pull me up to 50 meters!!!! If anyone jumps before that I go with them. Out of turn two Brian hammers it again. I look down at the computer and now the pace line is a doing a blistering 31mph…..( I would later learn from my father who was watching the back stretch that we actually had a gap of 3-4 bikes down the back stretch going). NO ONE is going to pass us.
Out of turn 3 there is an imperceptible slight lull for only 1-2 seconds. Just enough for a South Wheelman to launch and I see him scream past me on my left. I go. We come out of turn 4 and he is 6 bike lengths up on me and I am in second place now. NOOO!!!!! I jack it with everything I’ve got, catch him and go screaming by him. 200 meters still to go but uh oh, my move has now made me the lead out man for some other guy. Just as I realize that he jumps me and gets a winning gap of 6 bikes.
I look back and see a LOT rider on my wheel. 50 meters to go. Downshift, and all I could hear in my head was Randy saying to us ALWAYS throw the bike. I beat the LOTrider for 2nd place by half a bike length.
Not the finish Mike or Brian deserved for an incredible, heroic, epic effort, but they alone got XXX to the podium. It was the kind of thing we always talk about, but rarely get to be apart of and Mike and Brian pulled it off flawlessly. Amazing guys!