Not racing French Broad in Asheville this day, so stayed and rode local. Bike South is only 2 miles from my house and too convenient to pass up for a 7a slugfest. Although on this day it was pretty tame and not far in there was a crash. I had just gone to the front to set a blistering tempo up one of the rollers and heard the crash behind. I called off the surge and circled around to check out the damage. I heard one "Fred" overlapped a wheel and went down causing DKessler to go down on his new bike. He was pretty banged up, but a tough guy so after a few minor adjustments and new tube we were on our merry way again. The pace remained calm. I tried to keep it active and strung out on a few sections, but knew where the flurry would begin and where our two sprint points were, so there is no doubt that these will self instigate.
Coming up Doby Bridge, guys always sit in, take fewer pulls and/or shorter pulls to reserve for the climb and sprint at the end. And since Preferred Parking has 15 guys there, most others expect them to do the majority of the work. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Not many of their guys were rotating through on this day, but enough finally did to get us to the bottom of the climb. No fireworks. Steady and coming on the sprint of course guys started posturing for position and the speed amped up. Rafik offered to take me to the line, but it was too early and I knew Marcus would jump right on my wheel as I was marking him. As soon as he jumped out of line to start his maneuver, I followed. He did a look back and knew I was there so he jumped right and around one of his guys to start his sprint and create a distraction. I jumped left and accelerated just as quickly without distraction. I had the acceleration on him after a few seconds and I saw him ease up, so sprint one checked off.
Again, back down 521 the pace was moderate, but enough to have split the group in two for a few hundred meters. It came back together and we started back down Dorman where the fireworks would surely begin. Diego, Hathcock and another guy went off the front pretty early. I almost didn't realize, nor did I really care at that point. But once we got a few miles from the final sprint, Andrew and M Hill started to create separation. I saw and was willing to let it go since Mark is my teammate, but when Marcus bridged across it was my turn to join in. Another guy tried to bridge and after sitting on his wheel and realizing he wasn't going to make it, I jumped him and finished over to the trio. We were steady going and starting the assault. Mark took a turn on the last hill, which is typically an eye opener and leg breaker if we are going hard. He put in a solid effort and rolled off. I took over and put in another long dig. I rolled off and of course Marcus attacks us. Andrew had been dropped. Marcus put a 100 meters on us easy and had killed my spirit since I had just worked my tail off. Mark wasn't about to let that move go unanswered, so he started again. I jumped on his wheel. His effort was almost heroic as he pulled him at least a quarter to half mile to close the gap considerable to Marcus. Enough so that I was able to jump hard from his wheel and close in on Marcus. Of course I got another look back, but Marcus didn't respond. I jumped to his wheel for a half second and had a chess game ahead... Hathcock, Diego and the sprint finish. I jumped each and realized RMasset had latched onto my wheel somehow with the help of his team. I blew him off and passed Hathcock and Diego for the 2nd and final sprint. Mark deserves that win for his efforts on my behalf. Teamwork!
Unfortunately the next part of the day consisted of Matt Goezler's funeral. Matt was a friend that I had met through our days riding for Moto Velo and me knowing his brother Tim. The first time I met Matt was at the Ride Around Wilkes cookie ride, which he won. He was a superior mountain biker, a very good roadie in his day and a wonderful person. Last year, we went to the mountains a few times to train and Matt's sense of humor defined him. He had a zinger for everything and everybody. Just seemed to enjoy life and loved the sport of cycling like nothing else. Would give the shirt off his back. But in the end, he took his own life due to what we think are some issues stemming back to his 2000 bike crash and head trauma injury. We'll certainly miss Matt, his pranks and all the wonderful nicknames, stories and butt whoopings he unleashed. God speed!