Carolina Masters started with a 7 man squad for the Masters 40+ race. We started our attacks from the start, but the terrain and desire of the field did not allow anything to get away. The first few miles were fast and furious. Finally, I was able to start the first move along with Vandy from MOB. He said he wouldn't be of much help, but I needed his team represented, so we could take the pressure off our teams for as long as the field would allow us the room to dangle. Then Carolina Flyers sent Rick Maset off to bridge, followed by my teammate, Derek Powers. The four of us started our hour together, but the burden always seemed to be on us to drive it. Rick worked hard and Vandy took his obligatory pulls. We never got more than 30 seconds off the front, but were allowed our freedom for an entire lap, as we were pulled back at the top of the hill on the finish, where I attacked again, but only in vain, as a small but dangerous group of riders assembled for the last lap fireworks.
I kept throwing attacks and watching attacks being thrown just to see who was playing and how quickly they were being covered and who had some gas in the tank. I certainly didn't feel like I had much after that first lap breakaway, but wanted to give the team all I had and keep the pressure off of them. No one was getting away. Everybody was in cover mode.
And then on a hill Patterson launches - OUCH! Mark Jellous goes after him and I know Mark is strong and will get across. He is a savvy racer, works well with others and is just a super nice guy. So, there goes Carolina Masters and MOB up the road. Well, I know who is left out at that point... Carolina Flyers. I know who their guy is, so I am right there watching Matt Botting like a hawk and sure enough there he goes. Free ride for me until we both realize that Matt bit off a little more than he wanted to chew as Patterson and Jellous are further up the road than we thought. He was fading and we were alone, so I came around and worked with him to bridge across. We made it and Patterson was waiting with orders to pick it up. Jellous was still trying to recover by the solo bridge. And then here comes Charlie Brown solo and Aaron Frahm, who ended up doing nothing, but pissing off MOB and Carolina Flyers by attacking out of a move that would have had both teams represented by two. Chris Thomas and Rick Creed missed out and can thank Aaron for that.
So, the break gets somewhat organized with 5 out of the 6 (remember, Frahm does nothing), but Carolina Masters has 3 guys and it is obvious that we are controlling this move. A few miles up the road Patterson goes again. And then Charlie blasts off leaving me for another free ride from Matt and Mark. M & M claw Charlie back only because Charlie sees Patterson coming back and decides to save the effort for later. Once Charlie and Patterson finally make it back, I launch solo and get some distance, but not enough to be out of sight on those long straight open roads. I have about 15 seconds and am going nowhere fast. After a couple of miles and only 5 miles from the finish, Patterson comes across to me and picks me up. The two of us finish together with about 30 seconds or so. Charlie gets a free ride and some energy to take 3rd and Matt and Mark fight it out for the last two money spots. Matt takes 4th and Mark 5th. Effort well done by both. Aaron unfortunately took 6th and the field sprint up the the 1K hill to the finish allowed our rested guys to take 7th, 8th and 9th. Awesome teamwork and great results!
And nothing better than free/cold Fat Tire beer afterwards to celebrate and congreagate with friends and competitors. Excellent weather, good course and well organized by the Sandhills Cycling Club. Thanks!