Friday, September 11, 2009

Fabrice wins the Giro, Ryan 5th!

The team had a great finish to CalCup this past weekend. Parnes took second at Esparto Time Trial and Fabrice won the series ending crit in San Francisco on Labor Day. So, that makes 3 wins in CalCup and numerous podiums. On top of that, Fabrice, Parnes, BP, and Rand teamed up and won the district team time trial title this past Saturday. Great work guys! Below is Fabrice's report from the Giro.

Some photos from the race (From Veronika Lenzi's site):
Fabrice in the break, bay bridge in the background
Fabrice taking the win

Now that CalCup is over, most of the guys are calling it a season. It's been a really good one for the team. Thanks for following along this season and thanks to all our sponsors for the continued support this year.


Giro di San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Weather: Sunny, windy
Teammates: Rand, James, Rob, Ryan (5th), Neil, Graham, Bruce, Billy

Finish: 1st of ~110

Much like every other street in San Francisco, the roads used for the Giro contain numerous pavement seams, potholes, and railroad tracks, making for some technical racing. Add the brutal winds that picked up in the afternoon, the small hill on the backside, and the strong 110 man field, and you have the makings of a very hard race.

This race was an objective for me after being off the front for most of Vacaville and finishing in second place at Winters, I knew that the form was here.

The team plan for the race: stay up front, be represented in moves, and try and get me, Rand, or Ryan into a good position to the victory, if possible.

The race started very fast and Rand took the first move with 4 other guys, included Roman Kilun from Team Ouch, but after 3 laps we were all together. During that time, I moved on the front of the pack to stay in good position.

Just after the junction with that first escape, Jared Barilleaux from CalGiant team made a counter attack, I followed him with the idea of creating a group of 4-6 guys. But after few pulls together, we realized that nobody joined us. At that time I was thinking "this is not good, this will be a long day".

From the beginning of that escape we settled into a good rhythm. I took the lead from the finishing line to the top of the hill then Jared has to finish the lap.

We quickly gained an advantage of 15 seconds but we had still 50 laps to go!!! We managed to stay very smooth and tried to increase our little advantage, but it was very suspenseful for the entire race because our maximum advantage was only 20 seconds and sometimes less than 10 seconds. I think the gap was still 15 seconds with 10 laps to go because all the Webcor team worked together to protect my advantage off the front. In all the moves we were able to see a green jersey sitting in the wheels.

With 5 laps to go our advantage was still under 15 seconds and the big teams tried to stay on the front and worked together to close that tiny gap. But we pushed harder and harder on the pedals and with 2 laps to go the advantage had not changed, still 15 seconds.

Our adventure still had a chance to see the victory but we had to stay together and work as hard as we could.

With one lap to go, the gap was under 10 seconds. I had very bad feelings from the week before at Vacaville where I was caught in the last straightaway after staying off the front during for the entire race, so I pushed harder on the last climb and let Jared to be on the front for the last straightaway. I didn't look back but I was able to hear the noise of the field so I decided to launch my sprint from a long way. Jared didn't react and I sprinted to the line and took the win, I was afraid to see the same scene as Cat's Hill (so many close calls!), that's why my celebration was very subdued. Anyway, I think my legs were so sore that I would not be able to do a big celebration. As I didn't look back, I was not able to see that one guy (Sterling Magnell, formerly(?) of Rock Racing) succeeded to close the gap between us and the field in the last lap. He passed Jared in the last straightaway to take second place, Jared held on for third ahead of the charging pack. Ryan took a very good fifth place, which meant two Webcor guys on the podium. Awesome!!!

For the last race of the Season that was a very exhausting race but a perfect team race!!! Thanks for the entire team for all work they did in the field!!!

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fabrice's Winters Road Race Report

Event: Winters Road Race, Pro 1/2
Date: 8/29/2009
Result: 2nd of 70
Team: Rand, Billy, Bo, Greg and Thomas

Course: 4 laps, 24 miles per lap, mostly flat, a few rollers, one short climb with a technical descent and good pavement. The climb, which comes about half-way through the course just past the feed zone, is mostly shallow, tipping upward a little toward the end.

Weather: very hot (110 degrees) and dry

The start was at 8:00am after an early wake up (4:30am) and a long trip to Winters. Just on the top of the major climb I felt that my rear wheel was flat, I looked on the back and didn't see the neutral car, I was thinking that this race was starting very badly for me. But when Billy caught me, he offered me his wheel. So we made the exchange and I started again, leaving Billy in a bad situation. After 2 miles of pursuit I caught the field. I was little bit anxious to know what happened to Billy. After the race, he told us that the neutral car asked him the number of the guy who put wheels in for the team (Bo put the wheels in), but Billy didn't know Bo's number and he had to argue with the guy to finally get a wheel!

During the second lap, a group of 2 or 3 guys succeeded to take an advantage on the field but the real race was not really on. On the climb I saw a little group which was creating so a jumped on it and tried to take a big pull on the descent with the help of Rand. We got a gap but CalGiant was not in the break, so we were caught after a few miles. Then the race was on, attacks on attacks, we tried to put each time a Webcor inside. After 10 miles I succeeded to get in a good move. All 6 were motivated to put that escape on the way. In the feed zone our advantage was around 1min 30sec, and on the descent we were very surprised to see a guy closing the gap alone, so soon we were 7 in the group. We worked all together and the field was not able to catch us. The heat was very high and I think that I broke my record of bottles consumed in a race. Thanks Amy for the feed zone support.

After the descent our group was beginning to play. There were some attacks and after one of them we were 3 in the front, and the two most dangerous guys where not there, so I took some big pulls in order to stay in the front with that group. The thing that I didn't know is that the two guys had a flat at the same time, so the victory would be given to one of our 3. Maybe I've made too much work until the end but for the final sprint, the two guys attacked me all the time. With 500 meters to the finish line one guy attacked and the other looked at me, so I was obliged to launch my sprint from too far away. I caught and passed the first guy but in the last 50 meters the other guy passed me. So, 2nd place for me. Rand was close behind for a top 10 finish as well.

Thanks for reading,

University RR: Overend Schools Fabrice!

University Road Race was a couple of weeks ago, sorry for the late report. The course is really tough and most people avoid it for fear of getting dropped within the first few laps. It's basically a several minute hill interval followed by a short descent, which repeats lap after lap. Only the truly strong and/or crazy look forward to this race. Sounds like one for Fabrice! Below is his report.

Event: University Santa Cruz Road Race, Pro 1/2
Date: 8/23/2009
Result: 4th of ~40
Team: Billy and Myself

Full Results

20 laps of the 3 miles circuit, which was a loop with basically a 1.5 mile uphill and a 1.5 mile downhill. The climb was gradual in parts, moderate in others, and steep at the end.

Cloudy, Foggy and cold at the beginning then clear and warmer.

On the start line, I saw an old guy like he could be my father, with grey hair and with a complete specialized setup in the middle of our field. I was thinking that he made a mistake; the masters race is later. But he seemed to be motivated to start with us.

Anyway, the start was given and my goal for the race was to do as well or better than last year, a 4th place. The race was started very quickly because on the second lap, one of the favorites, Scott Zwizanski from Kelly Benefits was in a 3 man group on the front. I decided to join them in the third lap. On the top of the climb Neil Shirley (also Kelly Benefits) had felt the danger and joined us. In the descent we worked all together and I was surprised to see that the old Specialized guy was there and worked too! The gap between our group and the field was increasing all the laps but the race was long.

At mid-race, we were only 4 guys after an acceleration from the Kelly Benefits guys. The old guy was still there. With 4 laps to go I was in a difficult situation because it seemed that the Kelly guys didn't want to finish with me. Every time they attacked and I was there, they stopped, maybe a thought from San Luis Obispo Road Race where I beat Shirley in a sprint!! Anyway with two laps to go after responding to many attacks I felt a little bit tired and I didn't respond to an attack from Shirley, but the old guy was still there and he jumped in his wheel. I felt very miserable to see him dropping me!!

The gap between these two guys and me with Zwizanski was just increasing, and I knew that would be very difficult to do better than last year. I did all the work in the two last laps, and I was dropped in the last climb and finished at the same place as last year, so 4th.

After crossing the finish line, I was very curious to know who the hell was that old guy. In fact it was Ned Overend, world MTB champion in the 90's, and always on the top of his shape. At 54 years of age still so motivated and strong, congratulations!!!!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

W/AV Wins NorCal Crit Championships!

This past weekend was a good one for our team. The CalCup series continues on and the team is racing hard toward the end of the season.

On Saturday, Fabrice was heavily marked at Winters Road Race but still managed a 2nd place finish from a small breakaway group. Sunday was the Northern California/Nevada District Crit Championship race at Vacaville. Fabrice again was in a break for most of the day, which was brought back on the final lap. Our Ryan Parnes launched out of the pack to take the win with a nice margin over the charging sprinters. With that, he gets the honor of wearing the Elite Crit Champion jersey for the next year. Below is Ryan's report from Vacaville.

Some pictures from the race:
Fabrice in the main break of the day: 1 2 3
Ryan crossing the line: 1 2


Sorry everyone, I tried to get Rand to ghostwrite this for me, but he didn't go for it.

I had never raced Vacaville before, but I'd been hearing great things about the race for months. Everything they said was true. The course is an amazing 1.1 mile figure eight that manages to fit every cool crit feature into one course, including a solid power-climb, a ripping descent, a chicane before the finish, and last but not least a banked hairpin. Throw in about 6,000 bots dots and an endless row of cones and it makes for one crazy ride.

The team Sunday was Billy, Bo, Fabrice, James, Rand and Rob. We tried to have a bit of a pre-race meeting to hammer out a strategy, but we ended up mostly talking trash and making lewd comments. Maybe we didn't come out of it with a brilliant plan, but it does sort of put you at ease before a big race. (for more on pre-race meetings see Rand's Suisun report).

Things started fast and before I knew it Fabrice was up the road with Aaron Olson (former Pro-Tour rider) and two Berry Boys (Patrick Briggs and Jared Barilleaux). I figured that wasn't ideal so I launched myself on the climb and somehow managed to get up to them. We worked decently together for a number of laps, but I was suffering like a dog, and hurting all the worse because Fabrice looked like he was just noodling to the coffee shop while I was trying not to throw up. So when Aaron opened a gap and Briggs was on the wrong end of it with me I figured I wouldn't be the one to close it. Briggs didn't seem too fired up either and when Aaron jumped to get across we looked at each other and let it go. So there I was, head down, tail tucked, rolling back to the field.

I spent the middle of the race sitting in, licking my wounds and feeling generally horrible. That climb was really hurting and I was wondering if I had it in me to fight it out and contest a crazy sprint for 4th. Cal Giant was blocking and Rand and James were up front marking moves so I just sort of floated around the pack in bewilderment. Then with 7 laps to go I started feeling a bit better. 5 to go: not bad. 3 to go: glimmer of hope. With 2 to go it looked like the break might be coming back and I was in decent position. As we came through with one to go Cal Giant had some guys up front driving the pace and I was sitting maybe 6th wheel or so. Thats when Keith Williams, wheel-ninja and radioman extraordinaire, piped into my ear with some of his patented last lap wisdom, "OH YEAH! YOU'RE ON THAT TRAIN, BABY! RIDE THAT TRAIN! RIDE IT!", which despite his suggestive tone of voice was the most PG stuff I've heard from him at the end of a race.

In the end, Keith's crazy yelling, a lust for the state title and the fear that my sprint is just not up to snuff all came together in some magical way that made it feel as though someone had smacked me in the ass with a hot iron. I attacked into the climb with everything I had and it was an incredible sensation. Then it was anguish, absolute tortured, gasping anguish. But it did the trick. I swung by Fabrice and Aaron with one corner to go and managed to stay clear of the field and not collapse in a heap before I hit the line. I might have gone a little nuts as I finished, and I'm still feelin' high as a kite as I write this.

As always, huge thanks to the team. You just can't have a great result without a ton of help from a solid team and I'm so lucky to be racing with great guys in a great organization. Also, thanks are due to my strategist, Scott Rodamaker, who pointed at that if my sprint sucks, I probably shouldn't save it for the sprint. Brilliant.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Catching up

Yes, the Webcor/Alto Velo Men's Elite Team has been busy racing. Too busy to keep up with posting the reports to the blog, so it seems. My apologies for not getting these up more regularly recently. We've gotten a lot of good results isince early July. Below is a summary of our recent top-5's.

5th (Miller), Lodi Crit
1st (Parnes), Idaho Crit Championships
2nd (Miller), Watsonville Crit
4th (Badia), Colavita NorCal Crit
3rd (Dubost), Fort Ord Road Race (District RR Championships)
3rd (Buchholz), Timpani Crit
3rd (Parnes) & 5th (Morenzoni), Warnerville Time Trial
3rd (Miller), Dunnigan Hills Road Race
1st (Miller), Suisun Crit
4th (Dubost), University Road Race

Reports for theses races and others have been posted below. Read on if you're interested in the blow-by-blow accounts from the races.

Rand Wins Suisun Crit

Suisun Harbor Criterium
Suisun City, CA
Weather: Warm, windy
Teammates: James Badia, Rob MacNeill, Ryan Parnes, Bruce Wilford (?!), Billy Crane, Bo Hebenstreit
Placing: 1st of 60

Those of you who have met me will likely agree about two things: 1) I am extremely short, and 2) I am long-winded. Where am I going with this? Well, it turns out that the Suisun Harbor Criterium and I have a lot in common.

This criterium course is most likely the shortest of the entire year, about a half-mile in length, and the narrow, tight streets are always buffeted by a strong Central Valley wind*.

After spending all of Saturday exposed to the wind, heat, and hyponatremia of Dunnigan Hills, I was not mentally prepared for another day of punishment; however, there seems to be a severe disconnection between my mind and my mouth.

"Whatcha thinkin' boy?" asked Ryan Parnes, as we donned our kits.

I should have replied, "Ugh. I feel terrible, and I just want to sit in the pack all day." That's truly how I felt. However, as I just mentioned, what I say out loud rarely reflects what goes on inside my head.

Instead, my response was, "I think we should just get FUNKY!"

Now, many of you might wonder what that means. Frankly, I'm not sure. However, I believe the loose translation is something to the effect of, "Let's attack like rabid, aggravated howler monkeys!"

Of course, Ryan and I are not the ones dictating the race strategy; we are mere pawns. The real shot-caller is Rob, along with his sidekick Bruce; both dole out the orders to the minions during the fabled "pre-race meeting."

In case you're wondering, here's how most of our Elite Team pre-race meetings proceed:

Dude Macneill starts off with, [monotone voice] "So what's the plan?" and stares around the circle at each of us, daring us to match his nonchalance.

That's when I chime in with a string of overly dramatic, expletive-ridden descriptions of the dismemberment of the fundamental life-force of our competition. It's all quite R-rated, abstract and unnecessary.

Cheery Bruce then responds calmly with, [British accent] "Alright, well, that's all dandy, but is it tea time yet? I've got to stay hydrated, right? How do you like my headband, Rand?"

James typically adds a few comments that are actually relevant (he's usually the only one), chides me for botching the finish of the previous 10 races, and flips his rock-star-esque hair back. His attitude matches his tracksuit, which also happens to match his flip-flops.

Ryan will then moan, grunt, and proclaim that he "feels terrible" and hasn't "been sleeping at all." He often laments that his legs are unshaven and that his bike is falling to pieces, a mechanical reflection of his whole life's descent into dishevelment. Then he flashes the crazy-eyes and smiles, and you know it's time to party.

Billy is pretty quiet, but that's only because he's too busy polishing his shoes and adjusting the angle of his helmet and sunglasses. He's very professional about his style, which is why we keep him around.

Bo says even less than Billy, and usually stares off at the mountains in the distance. You can tell he'd rather be on a 200-mile deathmarch in the wilderness than at a ridiculous half-mile criterium.

While most of what we discuss in these meetings is complete and utter nonsense, they are team-building exercises. They are a large part of the reason we're all so happy to be teammates.

Alright, let's get back to the Suisun Harbor Criterium proper.

Frankly, I don't have a whole lot to say about this race, so I'll keep things succinct.

I attacked on the second lap, and was brought back. Billy countered, and was brought back. Ryan countered again, and was brought back.

On lap 10 (of 72), the officials rang the bell for a prime. Tim Granshaw (Sierra Pacific) attacked, and I jumped a few seconds later. We rolled around for a lap or two before we were joined by Evan Huffman (Lombardi).

The three of us drilled it. Trust me, it hurt.

The team raced like champions back in the group, keeping the chase from gaining enough momentum to bring us back. I cannot thank these guys enough for all the work they do, each and every weekend. Steve Jones was on the radio, and deserves credit for guiding the team through the race.

Tim Granshaw, who had raced the Masters race just prior to starting the P/1/2 race, began to falter about halfway through the event. He shortened his pulls to remedy the problem, but with 20 laps to go, he cracked. It was hot, he had a lot of miles in his legs, and we were really giving it full gas. The probability of a victory for me went up, but I still felt bad for the guy.

With 1 lap to go, I latched onto Huffman's wheel. He's a former Junior National Road Champion, and I know he has a killer sprint, so I needed to play the finish carefully.

Just before the second-to-last turn, I jumped to the inside, railed the corner, and sprinted down the short straightaway with a clear gap to Evan. I settled into the saddle for a moment through the final corner, and then gave it everything I had up the final straightaway to take the win. It was nearly a carbon-copy of James' winning sprint on this same course, two years before.

Thanks again to all my teammates for their work. My constant idiotic attacks would be nothing but a laughingstock if it weren't for them.

*I realize I'm grasping at straws here, comparing "long-winded" to "Central Valley wind." My apologies.

Rand's Dunnigan Hills Race Report

Dunnigan Hills RR
Yolo, CA
Weather: 512 mph winds, 234 F temperature, no exaggerations.
Teammates: James Badia, Rob MacNeill, Ryan Parnes, Billy Crane, Matt Beebe, Neil Harrington, Greg Gomez, Matt Morenzoni, Bo Hebenstreit
Placing: 3rd of 60

I'm sure you're kindly attempting to hide your astonishment, but I can still sense it from here. I feel remarkably uncomfortable writing this report; we all know I'm no road racer. Nevertheless, I'm contractually obligated to compose a report, so bear with me as I muddle my way through 86 miles of misery.

The Dunnigan Hills RR--or any race that contains extended crosswind sections--provides a unique glimpse into the human psyche. Two facets of the mind reflect particularly brightly when exposed to the harsh elements of the Central Valley: self-preservation and desire.

Desire is an obvious and uninteresting topic; bike racing hurts, and if you lack the desire to win, you will fail.

Self-preservation, on the other hand, tends not to expose itself often in P/1/2 racing. Typically--with many frightening exceptions--category 1 and 2 bike racers are comfortable riding in close proximity, cornering at high speed, and coping with aggressive racing. However, when confronted with a stiff crosswind, only the truly confident cyclist will prevail. Criterium racing is dangerous, and requires a certain amount of disregard for one's own safety; crosswind racing, when done successfully, is sheer madness.

Of particular relevance to Dunnigan Hills is the battle between desire and self-preservation. No matter how well-positioned you are, you will inevitably find yourself flirting with the double-yellow, squinting through bloodshot eyes, pedaling as hard as your feeble amateur legs allow, yet struggling to maintain contact with the rider ahead.

You are then faced with three options: cross the centerline to maintain a draft, pedal harder, or drop off the pace. To observe your fellow racers at this moment speaks volumes about their character, and I recommend you observe carefully; you will gain invaluable knowledge about your competitors.

A weak man, one without morals, without sense of self-preservation, will cross the yellow line. This man cares little about his own safety (much less those behind him), and cares even less about the official's watchful eye. This is likely the same man that dives the final corner of a criterium, jeopardizing everyone's skin. I never trust such uncouth cyclists.

A different brand of weak man, this time with no fortitude and no desire, will simply slow his cadence and tell himself he's "having a bad day." He will unceremoniously exit the race at the feed zone.

A strong man will concede that his opponent's pace is fast, but not fast enough. His desire to win is temporarily eclipsed by the desire to simply hang on. But should he hang on, the strong man will eventually have the opportunity to gutter his opponents, to inflict pain upon those behind him. That is the truly beautiful part of racing in crosswinds: if you are strong, you can mercilessly crush the spirits of your competitors.

Impassioned, overwrought, superfluous soliloquies aside, let's discuss this year's edition of the race in earnest.

The first 43 miles of this race were controlled, predictable, and eerily calm thanks to a valiant first-kilometer attack by Billy Crane and Bo Hebenstreit. As the race rolled out of town--while I was exchanging banal comments with friends and generally running my loud mouth--my teammates were attacking with reckless abandon. They succeeded in establishing a ten-man breakaway before I had fully awakened from the previous night's sleep. Well done, lads.

Many riders, having missed this early move, were forced to frantically drive the pace; meanwhile, Ryan Parnes and I were able to stay protected from the brutal winds, safe in the knowledge that our teammates were fighting the wind minutes ahead of us.

Alas, this "calm before the storm" was exactly that, and heading into the second lap it was apparent that the race was preparing to blow apart. As we hit the first exposed crosswind section, Andres Gil (Pacific State Bank) and Kevin Klein (Klein Real Estate) attacked hard up the centerline, guttering the field. I found myself in the position described above, flirting with the centerline, contemplating dropping out or committing vehicular Hari-Kari with oncoming traffic.

It was during this tumultuous period that I began cursing Ryan's name between my ragged breaths. Why? While I was questioning my manhood, Ryan appeared invincible. Neither the wind nor the pace seemed to faze that hairy abomination. Spurred on by anger at Ryan's apparent strength, I pedaled with all my might. After several miles of torment, we collectively looked around to find that Klein, Gil, Parnes, Evan Huffman (Lombardi) and I were alone, with the peloton nowhere in sight.

With nothing to lose, we worked well together, everyone taking even pulls into the rugged crosswind. By the time we reached the right-hand turn into a headwind, we had caught a chase group of five, and could see the lead group dangling less than a minute ahead. A few pedal strokes later, and we swallowed them up. As I passed a withering Billy and remarkably stoic Bo, I said, "Great job. Thanks guys." Now the pressure was on Ryan and I; our teammates had suffered greatly, and I would be damned if they had suffered in vain.

Now, a group of twenty riders is at least ten riders too many, so Ryan and I moved to the front. We knew we had to increase the pace and shed some baggage. Unfortunately that likely meant shedding some teammates as well; no one said the life of a domestique was glamorous, or even fair. When we first caught the lead group, Billy said to me, "I'm pretty toast, but let me know what to do, and I'll try." Knowing that he was about to suffer at the hands of his own teammates, I simply smiled and said, "Just rest up a bit, you've done your job."

Ryan went first, hitting the gas hard, and I pulled through in an attempt to imitate his display of power.

I only wanted to shred the group and inflict unholy suffering upon those who were weak, but nothing more. I swear, I had absolutely no intention of "attacking," in spite of Ryan's insistence to the contrary. An attack with 30 miles of head/crosswind remaining would be patently moronic.

In spite of my intentions, I ended up with a gap on the field. Well, #$*%. Once you're off the front, you might as well keep going. I put my head down and punished myself for my idiocy, riding alone in agony through the majority of the final crosswind section.

Thankfully, JD Bergman (Clif Bar) relieved me of my lonesome burden as we entered the long, undulating headwind section of the course. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Andres Gil, Evan Huffman, and a rider I still can't identify. Judging by the miles of empty road behind us, this group of five was destined for success, even with 20 miles to the finish.

Like my overworked oxen in the video game "The Oregon Trail," we set a grueling pace all the way through the headwind. We crossed I-5 with a three minute gap on the chasers, and nothing but flat, smooth, tailwind-assisted roads to the finish. We were clear, and I could finish no worse than 5th. Most importantly, I was confident in my sprint.

Hubris always strikes at the most inopportune times; just ask Oedipus. Now, that's an overly dramatic comparison, of course. I managed to avoid any uncomfortable encounters with female family members and didn't gouge my eyes out.

However, a left-leg muscle I never knew existed took issue with my confidence and, without warning, cramped violently and painfully. My breakmates looked on with surprise (and probably amusement) as I began to yelp frantically, coasting off the back while massaging my rebellious leg.

My race was over with only 10k remaining. I couldn't pedal, and I glanced toward the shoulder, searching for a soft place to land. I fumbled with my bottles, swallowing the last few milliliters so that I might remain alive until the EMT's arrived.

That's when I realized that I was coasting along at 20 mph, courtesy of the incredible tailwind. Reinvigorated, I continued some massaging, interspersed with some stretching, and finally loosened my leg to the point where I felt comfortable turning the pedals. I was nearly 40 seconds behind the leaders at this point, and I was very grumpy.

I wasted every ounce of willpower remaining in my body, and clawed myself back to the leaders as they passed the 1k to go sign. They were surprised again (though probably significantly less amused).

I won't belabor the finish. I was completely worked, and in no state of mind to adequately judge distances. The 5th, unidentified rider in the break jumped very early while the rest of us looked at each other. He won, and a heartfelt congratulations to him. I sprinted gingerly (to avoid cramping) and came across the line in third, behind Andres Gil.

Suffice to say, I hate road races, and justifiably so. I've not been that miserable after a bike race in a long time.

Letter Grades:

Tactics: D- (Ryan was supposed to be the leader, and I blew it)
Teamwork: A+ (Bo and Billy are studs)
Finish: C (Classic rookie move: letting someone else win)
Race Report Length: A+ (If you're still reading this, get a life)
Style: F (The Velopromo T-shirt has a photograph of Mike Vella on it)

Overall: B+ (My teammates' good work almost offsets my failure)