Red Trolley has always been a tough, tough race for me. Even when I was a cat 5 this course was really tough for me. It's got a sharp climb right before the finish, which definitely isn't my forte.
I'm not going to say too much about the "team plan" heading into this one. Suffice it to say, my role for this race was to race for myself. I had hoped to race at the front, taking it relatively easy and then see what I could do in the last half lap.
So some observations from today's race:
1. I'm definitely getting stronger. The first time I raced this course after coming back from my crash I got dropped on the 3rd lap. The second time out I didn't get dropped, but finished well back. This time I was right there at the front, actually finding myself riding faster than the pack as we crested the hill.
2. I can't sprint worth a darn. I went from 10th or 15th at the bottom of the hill on the last lap, to 25th at the line.
3. My approach of racing for the fun of it, rather than competition, this season is leading to some much happier moments.
After the race, Matt Marshall and I headed up through Fairbanks Ranch, up Del Dios, and west through Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest. Matt then split off for home and I headed back towards the coast and back to my car. 3.5 hours of riding that definitely left me drained.
Next week is a recovery week for me, followed by the Roger Millikan Crit next Sunday. This race went really well for me last year, hopefully I can really crank it up for this one before heading out of town for the Vancouver Olympics.