Background: I am one of the assistant captains of the team, a junior at Carlmont High School, and this is my third year racing for the team. My freshman year I finished in 26th overall in the freshman category, I trained really hard that off season and placed first overall in the sophomore category with a second place finish at State championships. I am a climber, the longer the better and this year I will be racing with Cameron Adams on the Bear Development team.
Going into this race I knew that I had the best fitness I’d ever had but since I had never raced in varsity before I knew that I would be starting from the back and would have a lot to learn about my competitors, high-level tactics and the nutritional needs for races that were over twice as long as my races last year. The course was an extremely fast, flat course with a few short, very steep climbs mixed in. With four laps for the varsity field, these would be crucial sections for gaining time and would be choke points for attacks. Due to the style of the course and competitive field I had planned out passing spots and knew that I could only hope to catch up to the front group in the first half of the lap, due to the second lap being mainly windy fire road and double track. I also talked to my coach beforehand and we decided that I should only try to pass on flats or downhills because passing on climbs would waste too much valuable energy.
Starting from the fourth row next to my high school teammate Blaise, I was able to execute on my plan perfectly; passing most of the field on the first flat section of the race and catching up to the front group by the top of the first climb. Unfortunately, before I had time to recover, Nathan Davis from Monterey put in a strong attack on the front group splitting it, with me still in the back. They quickly put twenty seconds on me with only sevens minutes until they hit the fire road; I knew that I was going to have to dig deep if I wanted to catch them in time. I put my head down and hammered for the next seven minutes, picking up the stragglers of the now destroyed pack as I went. I wasn’t able to catch the final three riders by the time the fire roads had started but I had pulled it down to only a few seconds and we had cumulated into a chase pack of five riders which was more than enough to battle the wind and catch them with a couple miles left in the first lap.
For the rest of the first lap and the entire second everybody sat in with only some slight change in positioning between the eight of us who were now in the front. On the start of the third lap I felt amazing but had a miscommunication about my feed so I had to drop to the back of the group in order to open a GU, this was the start of my downfall. On the first climb, the 7th place rider started to fall back and a gap started to form in front of him, I decided to go against my race plan and go for a pass to fill the gap. Right as I did this, the 6th place rider goes for a pass well, causing the 7th place rider to surge forward and blocking me from moving up at all. As we crest the hill none of the positions had changed but the back three of us had all burned matches. This is also when Nathan decides to attack the group which causes my worst fears about a gap forming to become a reality as I watch the pack get strung out with me too far back and not enough energy in my legs to bridge up immediately. For the second time in the race, I put my head down to bridge up. Even though I get within a few seconds, I had no help from the other riders with to make the final push. The rest of the race was just a blur of pain as I continued to try to close down the gap with the front group as it continued to grow. The other rider with me was toast but still managed to beat me fairly easily in the sprint causing me to be pushed back to eighth.