By Dennis Pedersen
As many of you know it is not often that we get to race together as a teammates. But this last Saturday, at Fort Ord, there were four of us from Spokesman Bicycles racing together... and I do mean together. This race was the first time in my recent memory that we had enough teammates to have tactical options, agreed upon a plan for the race, executed that plan, and not only succeeded but almost swept the podium. It was awesome!
We had Dan Perry and Matt Wocasek as climbers and for breakaways, and "Captain" John Pollard and I for blocking plus for the finish if it came down to a sprint.
On the very first lap Matt attacked hard up Eucalyptus Road's stair-step climbs, from the very front of the pack just as I had hoped he would. I was right behind him so I was able to let a gap open up that others would have to close, after having to pass me first, before they could even try to catch him. One rider from San Jose Bicycle Club went with him and soon they were trading pulls off the front. Over the next two laps they slowly increased their lead and I was really optimistic that they would be able to take the win.
A few times there were guys who tried to bridge up to our duo but none of them succeeded. John and I were very careful to keep an eye out for such attempts and would quickly grab on to their rear wheel as they leapt ahead. This had the effect of discouraging them from continuing on up to the break. After all that would have merely pulled us along and either given us a numeric advantage in the break or brought everybody else along too.
As we raced along I made sure that we didn't chase down Matt and his partner and their lead increased quite nicely. The trick is to ride hard enough that it tempts other riders to merely follow us, but not hard enough to reduce the gap to our teammate ahead. I was optimistic at Matt's chances to finish strong.
Just after two laps to go, on Parker Flats Road's gradual climb, Dan flew by me from several bike lengths back and went roaring up the hill. It was impressive. It didn't look like anybody had the legs to follow him, and he looked over his shoulder several times to check (I had been pulling everybody along the flat section before that expressly to tire their legs out... I like to think it helped Dan get away alone).
While the general rule is never to chase down your teammates, Dan's move made sense as it turned out nobody could (or would) follow him. They may have been too tired, or hoped somebody else would follow him first and let them draft behind. So this meant we'd have two guys up ahead with just one other rider to contend with. Though Scott Calley, a nice guy on Don Chapin, decided not to wait for a sprint and started to chase on the last lap. But I was pretty sure it was too late for him to catch any of the others unless they completely blew up. So I stayed behind and kept watching the main pack.
Sure enough Dan met up with the break and worked with them for a bit but then went off the front by himself and soloed for the win! Matt took 3rd from the surviving break, Scott 4th (I was happy to see that!), while I took the last podium spot (treating it like a sprint for the win, as practice) with John directly behind me in the field sprint.
Dan had been worrying that the pack would catch him and swarm him before the finish line but I had to remind him that the times that has happened in his past races he had no teammates to block for him. Just another reason why having teammates is so awesome.
It was a blast!