Mayor's Cup M2/3 2016

It’s not fair that I won this bike race. No, no, I didn’t cheat. It’s not fair to those who have spent more hours on the bike, been disciplined in interval training, or been strict with their diet to be as fast as they can be. In many ways, I didn’t deserve to win. But hey, life’s not fair. Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know.

Mike Heiss Mayor's Cup

Photo Credit: Angelica Dixon

Three years ago, I had never done a road race in my life. I watched AJ, Cole, and Dave sweep the podium at Mayor’s Cup and thought to myself 1) that looks like fun and 2) wow these guys are superheroes. Since then, Mayor’s Cup has been a target of my season. Year one, get my Cat 3 upgrade in time so I can participate (and hang on for dear life just to not get pulled). Year two, go in with high hopes to get a teammate the win, but come out unsuccessful. Year three…this is it.

Leading up to the race was a love-hate relationship with that nervous, anxious feeling before the main event. Normally I hate it, suppressing it by lowering my expectations and telling myself it doesn’t really matter. This time, it was clear we expected to win, and my teammates were counting on me to deliver. While it’s hard to say I love the feeling the pressure creates, without it everything can feel routine and boring.

Even though I knew I wasn’t at peak fitness and haven’t stood on a podium since my Cat 2 upgrade, I had a strange confidence that I was going to win. I owe this all to the “who you know.” For one, it’s from being mentored by teammates who have created a legacy of winning crits in New England. Second, it’s from having 9 teammates willing to bury themselves and sacrifice their result to get the team a win.

Mike Heiss sprintsFor me the race was fairly uneventful. I’m sure I missed a lot sitting in, knowing the team had everything under control. Smith followed dangerous attacks in an attempt to break away, but per usual nothing would stick. When we missed a move, Gerry would turn screws at the front until it was brought back. If I ever started drifting back, a teammate would dutifully move me up to the land of no brakes and smooth wheels, making sure I never felt the harsh blow of unsheltered wind.

With 2 to go, Travis Kroot (Downeast, spent the entire GMSR RR off the front) was off the front in a dangerous move. I saw Emerson, forgot to ask how he was feeling, and immediately told him to bridge. Without question he went, and in less than half a lap brought it back together. Someone attacked through the bell and lined it out into turn 1. I was in the top 5 wheels and feeling good. Vivien Rindisbacher (KMS) got away solo with a decent gap, and Steve Cullen (MMR) was at the front chasing him down. I knew I wanted to go early, so after turn 3 I attacked the downhill to be first (of the group, still behind Vivien) to the last corner. I took it as fast as my wheels would carry me, saw Vivien look back knowing he was caught, and cranked until I couldn’t see much of anything anymore.

After two seasons following training plans to a T, this season I wanted to take a step back, give myself more freedom, and simplify. I only had two goals in cycling this year: have fun riding bikes with my teammates and win Mayor’s Cup. Mission: Accomplished.