To kick off the season this year I raced the Santa Barbara County Road Race, an event near Santa Maria California put on by UCSB Cycling. The race takes 6 laps of a flat course with a small hill followed by a long descent to the finish line. Conditions on the day were very hot, with a little bit of wind.
This year I have been fortunate enough to spend most of the winter training here in California since the beginning of December, and have built a pretty good base, and I was pretty excited to line up at a race for the first time since September. I had injured my knee in a training crash three days before the race, so I was a little bit nervous about how it would hold up in competition, but it did mean I had 2 days off the bike before the race, and was feeling fresh.
The race started pretty hard with a lot of attacks, and on a course that usually sees a break win, I was eager try and make sure I got in the right move. It didn’t start out as my day though, I expended a lot of energy trying to get in the break, and when it finally did go I missed it. The pack didn’t seem interested in chasing, but would jump on anyone attempting to bridge. I had noticed early in the race my front brake was twisted, and had opened it up to stop it rubbing. After a few fruitless attempts to bridge to the break I dropped to the back of the pack to fix the brake and take some fuel on board.
By the time we went up the climb on the 4th lap the pack had completely given up on ever catching the break, which at this point had a 3-minute advantage, and the pace had slowed to a crawl. Jesse Anthony of Optum Procycling appeared to decide to do some interval training on the hill, and pinned it. After he pulled off at the top of the hill he had broken a small group of 6 riders off the front, and I pulled through hard, and we were away. Our small chase group started working well together, and I was happyto have something to direct my energy at. We pulled hard for a lap, and actually brought the break back to 1:30 by the start of the 6th lap, and were starting to pass dropped riders from the original break.
On the last lap people were starting to get tired, and the pace slowed. As we approached the last time up the hill everyone was either too tired to pull through or thinking of the finish. We weren’t sure how many riders were still up the road, but it was possible that 6th or 5th place was still up for grabs. I attacked early on the climb, and when I looked back at the top I couldn’t see the group and just kept the pace steady to the line, for what turned out to be 7th place, just out of the money.
Overall I’m happy with the race, my knee held up well, and despite missing the winning move I was able to still be active in the race, and my form was pretty good considering I hadn’t yet done very much high intensity training. Lastly I would like to thank Sarah Lynch for transporting Alex Cataford, Ben Perry and I to the race and feeding us, and to congratulate Ben and Alex for their win and third place.