Johnny Cake Three is unique among the JC races since it has a hill. Its not very big or steep, but compared to the pancake flat course used for the first two weeks, it does provide a chance to shell riders and split the field. It was also unique because, it was my birthday. I was planning to bring some birthday cake with me during the race, but at the last minute I opted for powergels instead. Its hard to put a candle in an energy gel.
Right from the gun this guy in black attacked and was never seen again. He got so far ahead they stuck a 2nd "pace car" in front of the rest of the field. Which was sort of confusing, since we didn't realize it was a 2nd car. For half the race we discussed where the guy in black must be, because if the pace car is here he can't be any further away.
"Did he pass the pace car? He's DQed then, right?"
"Did he flat? Go the wrong way? Crash himself out?"
"Was he actually an A group rider who stopped to pee and he took off like that to catch back up to the As?"
no. In fact he was just really fast and the rest of us were really dumb. Needless to say he won.
Eventually Steve pointed out that the pace car we started with was a black Subaru Forrester. The car we were following now was a black Honda Fit. Shortly thereafter a marshal yelled "1 minute to the break!" Futile chasing ensued.
On lap four Eric Schou, Matt, Danny and I went to the front and hammered it. We actually gapped the group a little and as we rolled over the top I took advantage of my prime descending weight and sped down the hill. I was the first one to the right turn at the bottom of the hill, going 35+ mph. I didn't really brake and tried to rail the turn at max speed to keep the heat on the group behind. Awesomely, I over cooked it and narrowly missed going off the road. Just as I exited the corner I heard "Wa, AAHHHH!" I looked behind and see DG in the field next to the road on the other side of a large ditch. Amazingly, he was upright and riding. Where I barely kept it on the road, Danny took the "why do I need to stay on the road at all" approach to the turn. Instead of crashing he just had his own personal CX race for 30 seconds.
So this combined effort on the hill and cornering with utter recklessness managed to separate the race down from the 75 starters to about 35 riders.
At that point we were got a time check to the solo superhero up the road - 1.5 minutes. Okay we really need to chase now. A bunch of half hearted cat 4 style chasing ensued, that somehow actually caused the gap to go up to 2 minutes. With 2 laps to go CBRC went up and actually chased, sort of- with 1.5 laps to go the gap had gone up to 2.5 minutes. Who the hell was this guy anyway? Do we really suck that bad?
So we gave up on the chase with 10k to go figuring we'd rather race for second then destroy ourselves not catching Lance Armstrong's doppleganger.
The last time up the hill Matt attacked with a brutal acceleration. He gaped the field and took off. The other teams in the race sort of looked at each other and Matt kept hammering. I thought he might stick the move, especially since CBRC was off the front and the remaining riders weren't exactly looking super organized. Finally at about 5k someone figured out how to ride fast and the group sped up. We caught Matt in the traditional spot right around 1k. At this point Jimbo and Eric Schou rolled up in front, I got on Jimbo's wheel and we started lining up for the sprint. We got a little blocked in, but as we made the left turn onto the finishing straight started moving up.
That straight is a lot longer then people realize, and with the headwind, you really have to get pretty close to the finish before you launch. A lot of people don't realize this and just sprint right out of the corner. Jimbo and I were all the way to the right hand side of the road in the gutter, with all these people sprinting into the wind on our left. Jimbo towed me right up to the 200m line and I jumped from there. As people cracked in the wind I went to the line passing a silly number of people. I ended up throwing the bike at the line and getting 3rd in the sprint.
Timing is everything in the sprint. I was still accelerating at the line and may have caught the two riders who beat me in had I hit it just 3 seconds sooner. The nice thing about the JC races is since the course finishes on the Pretty awesome.
Its amazing how much teamwork makes the race easier at the end. The work we did to break the group up mid race, and Matt's late attack made it easy for me to roll right up to the finish as fresh as possible. Eric and Jimbo brought me right up at the end, and Jimbo's last 300m push meant all I had to do was kill it - no thinking required.
Clearly we're getting it down more this season and I'm sure we're gonna score some more good results for everyone now that we are getting the team dialed. Its pretty exciting!