The 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix on July 7-8 was a great opportunity to compete in my first two Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 fields. Saturday was a circuit race and Sunday was a criterium, both 80 minutes long in the hot afternoon sun.??Saturday was well north of 100?? F in the early afternoon, and dipped just under that by the time we went off at 4 pm. I raced alongside Simple Green teammate Adam O’Camb. Teammate Jason Francia also came down for the race weekend, competing in the Cat 3 field.
I felt the circuit race, with about 140 feet of climbing each 1.9 mile loop, would suit me better than the crit. I knew I needed to race more conservatively than I had for the lower category races I’ve done this year, so when a break went right at the start, I decided to let it go. However, I spent most of the first half of the race chasing down every move in hopes that it would be the one that stuck. Eventually, it paid off and I got in a break later in the race, but I had clearly put in too many hard efforts by that point. I did get the opportunity to sneak in a $40 prime lap win while in the break. Unfortunately we got pulled in with three or four laps remaining. I finally sat at the back to try to let my heart rate recover from a shockingly high max of 194 bpm. I was ready to sit in the ~20-man pack to the finish to see what the sprint finish was like, when I sensed a lull in the pace with about 1 km to go. I made my final move, got some separation, but it wasn’t enough and in the end the field came storming pass me with about 300 m to go. I ended up finishing 16th. Strava Results
Sunday was a crit that was still a bit lumpy and not your typical flat, four corner course. The 40-man field was stronger than Saturday???s field and included some real studs like Justin and Cory Williams; Rahsaan Bahati and some Methods to Winning teammates; and a handful of SoCalCycling.com Team riders. After reviewing Saturday???s race with my teammate Jason Francia, I agreed to sit in a lot more. I had a plan not to go for any moves in the first 30 minutes of the race (total race time was 75 minutes). After 16 of mostly sitting in, however, I found myself on the wheel of another rider that was making a push for a break. Since all I had to do was sit on his wheel, I decided this was an opportunity too good to pass up and I went with it. Soon we had separation from the field, and because I hadn???t made a push to get in the break, I was feeling fresh and ready to do some work. Eventually we were a group of six guys and we worked together fairly well to build our gap to the main bunch to over a minute. The hard pace in the heat was wearing on some of the riders, and a couple of the guys dropped out of the break as we started to wind up towards the finish. Going up the hill heading into one lap to go, I was at the back of the group and decided to carry my speed by attacking hard. Going over the top I had a few bike lengths over second place Cory Williams. I knew that he would out sprint me if I pulled him to the line, so I drilled it to the turn on the far side of the course where we turned into a?? head wind. Cory knows how to race (he is nation???s number one beast, after all) and he made sure he was on my wheel before that turn.
At this point he pretty much had a free ride to the finish. Rather than swinging off and playing games with him, I decided to keep pressing as hard as I could all the way to the finish. I did this for two reasons: 1) I could tell he was uncomfortable by how labored his breathing was and I thought just maybe he???d be too spent on our final kicker up to the line and 2) I knew there were a couple guys not too far behind that could potentially catch us if we really let up. I was assured 2nd place, which would be a great result for my first time race in a P/1/2 field, so I just went HAM for the line. In the end, he came around me with about 150 m to go, just as I predicted. Strava Results
Overall I was very pleased with my first weekend of racing with the??big boys. Can’t wait to get out there on a tough road race course and see what I can do!