As I arrived in Lone Pine on Friday evening, I started to prepare myself mentally for the extreme temperatures I was about to put myself through for the second weekend in a row. The next morning, the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. to give my brother and I enough time to have breakfast before getting ready for the 8:00 a.m. start to the Alabama Hills Road Race.
The race did not have a huge turn out, but everyone who showed up was very strong. All categories started together and from the first lap, the pace was very high up the initial climb. The main climb is very pitchy and not gradual at all which makes it hard to keep a good rhythm. Every lap, a few more riders were getting dropped on the climb until there were only a handful of us by the final lap.
Each lap as we went up the climb, the temperature seemed to gain 5 degrees until the last few laps where the heat exceeded 100 degrees at points. With two laps to go, my body went through a tingling sensation from the blistering heat that I have never experienced before. On the final lap, a couple more riders were dropped on the hill, and the rest of the riders started attacking each other repeatedly. I stayed patient and responded to a strong attack by Chris Walker. As I came up towards his wheel, everybody else was tired from responding to harsh attacks. I took advantage of this moment and instead of sprinting out of the saddle to make an obvious move, I went around him as if I were taking a hard pull. At this point, I dropped down another gear and started to ride away in TT mode. I quickly realized I was really starting to establish a healthy gap.
There were 5 miles to the finish and all flat with some wind. All I could do was go all-in to the finish. I approached the finish line completely spent but happy with the win and ended up gaining 30 seconds on second place. I was happy with my ride, but really what I was hoping for was that it made my fathers day as it was his birthday.
Sunday morning was a similar routine as Saturday. Only this time, we drove down to 9 Mile Canyon Road for Stage 2. It was already starting to warm up fairly quickly before the start and we were all prepared to ascend 6200 ft. within the 30 mile race. As the race started, Chris Walker went to the front and set a blistering pace until him and another rider named Jansen both rode away from everyone else.
I struggled to stay with the four riders chasing them and was dropped from them as well. I had paid for my efforts the day before and was losing some ground. As I kept the chase group in my sights, within a few miles of the first summit, I was a minute and a half down on the lone leader, Jansen who had dropped Chris. At this point, Jansen had a good lead over the chase group, where I followed within sight. Over the hardest climbing of the day there was a plateau with some rollers for a few miles. This is where I started to feel stronger and drilled it until I soon caught the chase group of only 4 riders. I then attacked them and began to chase the lone leader on the road.
Over the summit of the climb, Jansen, (an ex-motocross racer who is incredibly strong) took the K.O.M./record on the climb by 4 minutes! I followed behind him over the climb about a minute back and started the descent. Going down the descent I took a few risks reaching 50 m.p.h. through bends and spinning as fast as I could until I caught Jansen at the end of the descent. From there, I held on to his wheel going into the final climb which was close to 4 miles to the finish.
Both of our computers read 29 miles and we thought the finish was at 30 miles. I saw a sign and cars parked on the side of the road and realized the finish was within 100 meters, so I put in an acceleration to the finish. Jansen didn’t realize that was the finish and only thought I was attacking so it was not the type of fight to the line that I wish it would have been. Otherwise It was quite the animated race overall as I went from being a minute and a half behind to a winning position.
Overall, it was a great, tough experience and a fantastic event put on by Steven Barnes of Anti Gravity Cycling. Thanks to my father for getting my brother and I up to the race and Happy Birthday to him!
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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