Last Saturday I went out to Imperial Valley for the Imperial Classic. I raced in the category 4 and 35+ (Category 1-4) race. This race takes place out in the Imperial Valley, which is a 2 hour drive east of San Diego. So the turnouts are never going to be too good.
We had something like 8 or 9 guys in the category 4 race. With only something like 20 guys in the field we knew we had a really good advantage, we just needed to exploit it.
Our goal for the day was to try to get some breaks up the road. Myself, Alcino, Bo, Josh, whoever we could, then have the rest of us make it as difficult as possible for the rest of the field to catch back up. One of the things we said we were going to do for sure was not let one of our breaks get caught and then just sit there in the field. Often when a break gets caught, at least in cat 4, everyone slows down and takes a breather, we knew that we wanted to keep the pain coming. As soon as a break got caught we were going to attack again.
I took off a few laps in as things were going pretty slow. That seemed to liven things up a bit. After I got caught, Bo got up the road with a couple of guys. Josh soon followed with another guy. Josh and the guy he was with lived in purgatory between Bo's break and the field. The rest of us then spent our time getting on the wheels of anyone who tried to jump up to the breaks. We did a fair bit of soft pedaling on the front of the field, Wells was letting gaps form all over the place, etc. The bottom line was that we made life hell for everyone in the field.
Eventually Josh's break was caught. Then Bo and one of his breakaway mates came back to the field. Unfortunately we then made our one error of the day in not realizing that Bo had in fact had 3 guys in his break. So, there was still one guy 30 seconds up the road that we didn't know was there. It wasn't until the last lap that we heard Ralph announce that we were racing for second that we realized that there was a still a guy up the road.
Patrick took a flier with a lap to go, which made the field work even harder to catch back on. I put in a pretty good pull from there and then Alcino and Josh did their thing down the stretch. In the end, Alcino got 3rd and Josh got 4th. It would have been great to get first, but more than anything it was great to be part of a team effort where we actually worked as a team.
35+ - Category 1 - 4:
I also did the 35+ 1-4 race, which was a real adventure for me. This was by far the fastest I've ever ridden in a race. 28/29 miles an hour for a full hour. I was able to keep it on my smaller chain ring for the entire race, which made things roll pretty nicely. When you race with the upper category guys, they don't slow down for the corners, so it's really important to find a gear that you can turn at 100 rpm or so and get comfortable.
This race gave me a whole new level of respect for the guys who race in the upper categories. Even though the race was steaming along at close to 30 miles an hour, guys were still attacking off the front and I was doing my best to hold on at the back. Every time I thought things were going to slow down a bit, they only seemed to get faster. I ended up pulling out with 5 to go because things were starting to get a little squirrely and I knew that there was no way I'd be finishing near the front.
I have to say that this was one of the best days I've ever had racing, especially as part of the team. We went into this race with a realistic plan to exploit the weaknesses of the rest of the field. We worked as a team to execute it, and in the end we got a podium result. I was really proud of the way that everyone worked together and we all put it on the line to get Josh, Bo and Alcino the best results we could get them.