EVENT - William & Mary Tidewater Classic Road Race
DATE - 22.February.2014
AUTHOR - Brooks Mershon
CATEGORY - Men's D
TEAMMATES - Grant Oakley
RESULT - 1st
COURSE DESCRIPTION - 10-mile loop with one moderate (0.5 miles at 3%) climb in the middle. Flat run-in to the finish with an uphill sprint.
PREVIOUS RESULTS - 14th last year; Duke's Steven Boyd took 3rd
WEATHER - Sunny, 45 degrees
The race got off to a slow start. All of the riders were quite timid, with only one or two trying to pull on the front before tuckering themselves out after a minute or so. The race stayed together through all of the first lap with no attacks on either of the two hills on the 10 mile loop. I stayed near the front through the first lap and lept out of the pack to stop the one or two attempted attacks that I saw. Overall, the first lap was very smooth, and everyone had lots of energy stored up.
The pace quicked for the second lap, with about five attacks taking place. I immediately hopped on each attack, staying near the front of the pack for nearly the entire second lap. About 3 miles from the finish, we still had most of the riders with fresh legs and shaky bike handling. I made a big mistake in letting a few riders slowly push me out of the way as they made their way to the front of the field. Everyone seemed to feel strong, and everyone seemed to think they could win the race at this point. I realized a dangerous situation was developing because the 10 or so riders immediately in front of me were jostling each other and tapping breaks. A few riders crossed the yellow line to pass and immediately squeezed themselves back into the field causing a severe crash just behind me. I felt a knock on my rear derailleur and wheel and looked back to see 5 or so riders go down. One bike frame appeared to have become foldable from the quick glance I took. My teammate Grant narrowly avoided flying riders and bike frames as he sprinted to keep up with the 10 or so riders who were in front of the crash.
I entered the turn off to the finish line around 5th place and struggled to get my damaged rear derailleur to shift up. As a five-rider train approached the bottom of the descent before the hill finish, I moved out of the train and hit the bottom of the hill about 3 bike lengths behind the lead of the train. Lucklily, I had a clear shot to accelerate up the hill for the win. Grant stayed strong and took 4th place after having to sprint in the last 3 miles to catch up after avoiding a crash.