After spending a few weeks away from road racing and instead suffering through a few crits, I was super excited to head up to West Green High School for the ABRA Green County Road Race. So, after getting lost somewhere in the hills of PA and having to stop and ask for directions at quite possibly the scariest convenience store I have ever encountered (insert banjo music here), I rolled into the parking lot of WGHS about 30 minutes later than I had planned, got my gear together, and headed out for a quick warmup.
Rolling up to the line with teammate Robbie L. about 2 minutes before the start, I made it just in time to catch the tail end of Nick’s prerace speech and we were off. As I got situated and grabbed a quick Raw bar followed by some water, I looked around to check out the field. I noticed a few of my WVU teammates from the collegiate season had shown up. I knew that they were both strong riders and would be excellent to work with if we got into a break.
Things rolled pretty easy up to the first climb but then things started to get a little crazy and much faster. Not bothering to look at another rider’s bib number as he passed, I assumed he was in our field and was attacking so I raised the pace and countered him. As we motored up the climb, I heard Kyle K. from WVU yell up to me so I slowed up to see what was up. It was then that I learned that that rider was not in our field…oops! Oh well, at least now the pack was strung out and maybe a few of us could get away on the ridge.
We cruised along for another five minutes or so and that’s when Michael Appel decided to attack. Watching him go down the road, no one in our group wanted to chase yet but we did raise the pace enough to drop a few guys off the back and leave us with a group of about eight. After chasing Appel at a moderate pace for what seemed like an eternity, I started to get a little nervous about letting him sit out there since the roads were getting more and more winding. I kept thinking about the old “out of sight, out of mind” adage and did not want him to get away simply because we just forgot about him. So as we approached the next climb, I decided to go to the front and raise the pace a little in an effort to bring Appel back by the end of the downhill. I was kind of surprised by how much I gapped the group I was in on the short climb but figured the would be working harder to get up to me and then we could finish reeling in Appel.
After the quick decent I found myself rolling up to Appel’s wheel where I hung out for a minute little to his knowledge. After towing me along for a few miles he noticed I was back there, realized he had been caught, and sat up to let the chase catch back up. From there on out we worked together with everyone taking short, efficient pulls and really working well with each other. I was honestly really impressed with how well everyone cooperated with one and other and how fast we just kept motoring.
Approaching the last climb, I knew this would be my only chance to make a move considering I am no sprinter and am just not big enough to motor on the flats. Not waiting for any grass to grow under my feet, as I knew the climb was not too long, I attacked at the bottom. After getting a decent gap on the group, I settled into a tempo pace and cruised up and over the top.
The first turn out of the decent gave me a good view back up the climb to see where everyone else was. I realized that I had really opened up a big gap and, in the process, broken the group up pretty much entirely. The only thing I could do now was get aero and make myself hurt for the next 4 miles to the finish. For the next 2 or so miles, I just buried my head and tried to really focus. I looked back with about 2 to go and saw Appel starting to close the gap on me. I stood up, trying to loosen my screaming legs some, and then sat back down to try and squeeze every last bit of effort I had out. As we approached the “1 mile to go” sign, I saw Appel coming up on me like a freight train and thought I may be able catch a wheel as he went by and then duke it out in a sprint. He came by and……dang it…he was gone! I have to admit that I was instantly disappointed that I couldn’t hold him off but, of course, didn’t quit considering I was still racing for second which I ended up taking by a minute or so. Well, I guess all I have left to say is thanks to ABRA for yet another great race and a big thank you to Jim Cantore for being wrong.