As some of the hardest races of the year have come and gone, I still find myself screaming out loud and reaching down to my legs to try and soothe out the cramps that are forced onto my aching legs even a day later. With the EPIC Walburg/Pace Bend weekend of racing behind you, it's known to be expected.
Once again, the Walburg Classic blessed us with unpredictable weather and some real tough racing. For the first time in years it looked as though the weather at Walburg would be perfect for a long day in the saddle. I rolled out of the parking lot with the rest of the Cat 2's (the Pro 1's were racing by themselves today) at around 8:00 AM with the temperature at around 60-65, the sun peeking through the clouds, and no wind at all. It was going to be a good day. By the time we had rolled ten minutes out of town it was raining steadily and the winds had picked up to about 20+ mph with gusts over 25. It was not going to be a good day. For the first lap I just sat in the pack to try and conserve as much energy as possible, and watched as small groups of about 2-3 riders roll up the road to create a dangerous move of about 10-15 riders off the front. With a little less than two laps to go, of the 24 mile course, I saw an attack go with some of the strongest Cat 2's in it. I quickly jumped on to the back of the train and found myself in a group of about 10 with a large gap back to the field. The ten of us worked well together and coming up the 800 meter finish line hill with one to go we had a minute and a half deficit on the leaders. Near the same spot that I had gone on the attack the previous lap I attacked again. No one from the break reacted and I found myself riding by myself for the next mile or so until Erick Benz, Dan Opdyke, and John David Coppin bridged up to me. Over the next seven or so miles, the four of us worked evenly until Coppin suddenly cramped up. This was a huge setback to us, seeing that he was an extremely strong rider and the chance of catching up to the lead group without him was very slim. After another mile or so Brian Jones bridged up to us as we got onto the 20 mph tailwind section. With my junior gears I just tried to stay on and keep the same pace when I pulled through at over 30 mph and 110 rpms. By the time we had pulled onto the smooth highway with a pretty strong tail/cross wind the gap had gone down to around a minute. The four of us worked extremely hard until we caught a group of four about 2 miles before the finish. With huge cross winds by this point, Benz got to the front an really drove the pace, putting me deep in the pain cave. By the bottom of the hill, I was really hurting, and by the time the sprint opened up I cramped really badly. The gap between the group and me widened very quickly, and I just started focusing on getting up the finish hill still conscious. I completed my goal, and came across the finish line 12th while puking no less than six times (including one spew that narrowly missed P1 4th place finisher, Travis Burandt). I then collapsed on the ground for about 10 more minutes before heading to the car for my chocolate milk. Mitch Comrado ended up winning the race from a two man break ahead of Chad Haga with Joseph Schmalz taking third. Heath Blackgrove ended up taking the win in the P1's ahead of Bill Stolte and Dave Wenger
I'm working on the Pace Bend race report and should have it up in a few hours.