Smuttynose

Going to the show.

Making my way onto the course from our tent was surreal. A crowd had amassed to watch myself, and two other riders master rollers... Asking questions, taking pictures, wishing us luck. I was one of the first to hit the road after the women's race had finished. The crowd applauded, and I looked around to see who they were responding to. It was me. I was in the show. I took two preview laps before I remembered I hadn't put air in my tires. So pro. I went back to the tent in a hurry. Butler and Mike were there to pump up my tires and give me a few last confidence boosters. One more lap, and it was time for staging. After the call up, they unleash us, and it's straight up to 30mph, where we stayed, forever seemingly.

I would steal glances at my speedometer down the back stretch. 35, 36. Every time. I do my best to settle in, and move back up to the front. It's hard. I try and get my bearings for where I am in the peloton. When It's strung out, I could be 20th wheel, but 6 seconds off the front. It's crazy. They ring the bell for the midway prime, which I can't believe has come already... which in retrospect, was a good thing. There is a break up the road, so my hopes of winning a big prime are all but dashed. Skip foley blows by me on the back stretch, and I jump to stay on his wheel. He brings me straight to the front at turn 3, and pulls off at turn 4. Uh oh. I am first wheel chasing down a prime/ breakaway, up hill, in the wind. I decided I would pull through and do some work for a change. I did my damnedest to keep it at 29. I nearly exploded afterwards, but I was at the front, and that was where I was going to stay.

Whenever the break gets pulled back, there is a slight hesitation in the field, it fans out, people grab a drink, and then there is another attack. Immediately and unfailingly. There is never a point where someone isn't trying to escape. It's incredible. It's what a peloton should be. It's a pleasure to be a part of. It's like watching the tour from the best seat in the house. At 5 to go, I am excited for it to be over. I am hurting. Or so I thought. At 4 to go there is a break of three away. At 3 to go, there are two away, with a chase group of four just off the peloton. 

People are scrambling. "Sprinters" screaming at their leadout men. GO. Move me up! NOW. I bounce from team to team, stealing their work. I arrive, unharmed at the front with 2 to go, in a very familiar place. "Oh shit. I'm gonna make a go of this!" Down the back strech, Gavin Magnion bridges to the four away, and I go with him. its now a chase of six, with the peloton close on our heels. Turn three, 29mph, final turn, 29.

Lift off.

We close on the 2 away, and blow by them. I am near black-out and I can't feel my legs. I see the finish-line and get that feeling: no way do I not win this race. I taste blood. Gavin breaks left. Issac Howe of Mountain Khakis moves right just as I do... and there is the curb. Like a cruel joke. I am hard on the breaks, and have to duck back behind him. I'm in my biggest gear and there is no turning back. I feel like I am jumping on my pedals and nothing is happening. I feel someone come up on my left, and a rider for CCNS pips me at the line. Instantly heartbroken, my only thought is that I could and should have won my very first Pro race. It's a feeling, that to be honest, I won't soon forget. The cooldown lap is amazing, everyone applauds as if we are soldiers coming home from battle. We joke, and heckel, and call Gavin an asshole. My disappointment melts instantly when I am greeted by my entire team (who had somehow made their way onto the course) as If I had just won the Tour. Honestly one of the best moments of my life. 

I'm coming away from this race not with the win that I would have liked, but with a very important affirmation: I can do this. I can be competitive at this level. Maybe I don't win every race. But I will sure as hell win a few. And that is exciting. 

My goals for the Mayors cup are unchanged. I am gonna win us a prime. I am gonna get our name in lights. I am going to rip everyones legs off. 

Thank you for a tremendous season. And thank you for staying. It meant a lot.