Grant's Tomb 2/3

Throughout the week leading up to this race, the forecast changed from 90% chance of rain to 100% chance of rain. That meant the forecast changed from 90% chance of Belgium to 100% chance of Belgium. I LOVE 100% chance of Belgium. Despite the miserable weather conditions, I was beyond excited for this race. Most of my trainer time this winter I visualized this crit, one I've raced early season since I got into this awful sport.

On the start line, it was Kyle, Mike Heiss, Steve, Smith, Emerson (who had just spent the 3-4 race in the break) and myself. It is 40-something degrees and raining. I am fired up.

The first few laps passed uneventfully, with the rain, wet manhole covers and general garbage conditions shelling a few racers. An early break went, which Mike Heiss began to bridge to. Nobody was chasing, and Mike Heiss is a total freight train so I thought that maybe this could be the one. I bridged, and we began driving. A few gaps opened up, and I told Mike to let gaps go as I rolled off the front with 3 or 4 guys. We were working well together for the most part. Coming into the finishing stretch a lap or two later, I didn't realize we were pretty much back together with the field and (im)politely informed someone that the pulls they were doing were not going to be sufficient.

“I'm really trying! My fitness isn't good enough yet!” was his response. I turn around, and see the field. I shrug and fade back into the field. A few laps later, I take a dig through the finishing stretch and into the few 90 degree corners. Someone on the sidewalk informs me that there is a gap, and bingo. We DRIVE. WE DRIVE HARD. It's me, Alex Sanborn from Foundation, and Thomas Detwiler from the PA Masters club, and one other guy (who wouldn't take a pull if his life depended on it). I try to dispatch him and move on, but to no avail. In retrospect, I should have been more focused on the guys who were actually capable of taking a pull.

Coming into three to go, we are already playing games, taking soft pulls and hesitating. Coming into one to go, I chance a look back and there is the field. Our gap has come way down. Someone by the finish yells, “Don't blow this guys keep working!” so I attack through the finish line and try to go for the long game. Historically, I don't have much of a sprint anyway. As I do so, I hear from the sideline “Be smart, Dom!” and realize that this is not how one stays smart. I pull through the turns and sit up and jump on the guys wheel who couldn't take a pull. Poor choice.

Coming into the U-turn, Foundation puts in a lethal attack, and two guys have a second or two seconds on me. I come around the outside up the hill, put my head down and stomp on my stupid pedals. At this point, I have accepted third place, but keep going. Suddenly, with maybe 150 meters to go, I catch the whispers of a draft from the two guys drag racing for the win, drop a gear and open up full gas. It isn't until after I cross the line that I know I got it. I get one fist in the air and spent the cool-down lap trying to not pass out. Someone came up to me after and informed me that Mike Heiss is "so [redacted] good", and his chase control was the best he has ever seen. So, thank you Mike. It is a huge relief to get this win after the darkest winter in my memory. On to the next one.