Spring Stage Race I- Wind and Suck.

In retrospect, I don't know how to feel.
The Spring Stage Race was this past weekend. Three days and four stages of racing, omnium scoring, and a indication of early-season form ahead of the Tour of Fairbanks.
It kicked off Friday with a shortened hill climb. Instead of the planned Super Potter climb, we stopped at the traditional Potter Valley finish. High winds would have made the most exposed and steep sections near the top somewhat dangerous. As it was, the gusts made things interesting on the lower slopes, sometimes swirling in a manner that battered you from all directions at once. I was happy about the lower finish, because the pain would stop that much sooner, and the GC situation wouldn't change because everything was based on finishing order rather than time. If 2nd place finished a half hour after 1st, the scoring would be the same as if it had been a photo finish. Once the pack strings out, as long as you hold your position there's no reason to kill yourself. Doesn't mean you don't. I pre-rode the course (slowly) to see where the wind was bad, stretching the legs and ensuring my kit choices for the night were appropriate.
On the first ramp I went to the front, riding tempo to discourage a nervous pack from blowing everything up by the first switchback. Everyone seemed fine with this, and left me up there. After the first turn, I slowed to drift back to hide from the wind. Nobody came around. The wind made my fat rolls slap together. I bled energy. Eventually the group came by and I latched on. Then a few of the stronger riders upped the pace. It wasn't an attack, they were just tired of riding at Gran Fondo pace. A gap opened, and I didn't respond. The gap grew, and I kept chugging along at the slow pace. Some riders fell behind. I eventually drifted back to Chris Wyatt's wheel to use for pacing. There was no hiding from the wind or the hill for either of us. I tried a couple surges to see how my companion would respond, then settled in. Chris Knott teased me up ahead, trying to burn me out. I surged at the last switchback, opened the gap, then eased up once the GC position was secured. Fifth on the stage, fourth on GC- one step off the Masters Men 45+ podium, behind riders far stronger than I am.
It wasn't a personal best for that climb. The wind, field, omnium scoring, and my own fitness ensured that.
All things considered, it wasn't a bad start either.
On to the next stage.


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