Has to be the fastest Orr Road of the year thus far. The first five laps seemed easily faster than the last five with Carolina Masters taking some hard and long pulls to keep everything in single file and prevent those obnoxious early attacks of guys who just want a little attention. After that there were numerous small attacks either always with a CM rider or covered by a CM rider. Granted we were missing a few of our local heavy hitters but there was plenty of horsepower there.
Excuse me for a little soapbox chatter, but I must recognize guys/teams that get out front and mix it up (whether they have any business doing so or not is just your opinion)... Harris Teeter had three guys tonight either attack, attempt to bridge or get in a move. They aren't dangerous, but a few of them try and should be given some credit. Salsaritas and the three amigos, Tom, Dan and Charles always give it a go too. And the unattached or smaller team riders should be encouraged to work together and form alliances to keep everyone, even us, honest. The dynamics could and usually are much different in a real race. Shane Martin and Scott Staley took some massive pulls tonight.
The other part of this soapbox and I must bite my tongue somewhat is that Carolina Flyers/Preferred Parking has a very large prescence in the field (although fewer of that number are on the race team), but I wish they would communicate better and work together better and they could really make some great strides in pulling moves back and keeping more folks on the defensive. There is no reason they should miss moves and they missed all of them tonight. They should be attacking at every opportunity. They have enough strong riders to be reckoned with and should be more active instead of waiting until they are at another weekly ride where it is obvious they are in domination and the sheer number, not the strength or race savvy, keeps them always in front and on the offensive. Enough already.
So, the moves that went tonight were Grant McAlister (my teammate from Winston who was riding Orr Road for the first time) and Neal Boyd (Neal is coming off an injury and has had a tough year already). Once they had some distance and CM shut it down, Charlie Brown was able to get away with Andrew Raab. Not exactly sure what happened ahead, but I am sure Andrew and Charlie got up to Grant and Neal quickly and Neal probably popped pretty soon after and somehow the screws were put on Andrew and he popped (strong rider so Charlie and Grant must have teamed on him). That left Charlie and Grant up the road for 1st and 2nd.
Back in the back, Carolina Flyers/Preferred Parking were certainly on the defensive and trying to bring it back, but I believe they finally called mercy and pulled their guys for the sprint. With 3 laps to go, Ryan Jenkins (who had been chilling all night sitting in because he is doing the Lowe's TT tomorrow night) got on the front and kept the pace high and consistent. He put 2-1/2 laps in at that pace and it was quick enough to prevent any attacks. Mike Kelly was sitting behind Ryan, but once Ryan pulled over with 1/3 of bell lap left, Mike took a 2 second pull and moved over himself. That left me on the front WAY to early so I hesitated to see if anyone would jump me and I could grab a wheel, but after only a second or two I launched and said what the hell... the furtherest I have ever launched at Orr Road and probably the longest sprint I have ever attempted. I knew there were guys all over me licking their chops and I really didn't think I could hold it that far and that long particualary going up that small rise to the finish. I knew I had to dig and hold as long as I could and figured Marcus would be sitting on me ready to come around, but at the point I knew I had it, I looked over and saw Sheehan second. We were freaking motoring!
Great job in practice CM... Grant, Charlie, myself. Time to put practice into race form.
p.s. kudos to Julian Patterson (John's son) for taking that last ditch flyer with 5 to go or so. it might not have lasted long but it certainly made a statement that somebody has arrived on the scene and is ready to climb the ladder from Cat 3 at age 15 to Cat 2 after Crossroads and racing in Belgium this summer. Great job Julian! Watch out Pro/1/2s... the kid is coming up fast.