By Dennis Pedersen
DNF. Oh well, no big surprise though. I'd done well at San Ardo in the past, but my entire season has revolved around training for track sprints; races usually under one minute. So this 63-mile road race (three laps) would be tough for me, despite lacking any major climbs. I'd hoped to race for teammates in the 50-54 age group, but in the end it was just me and Detlef against 29 others.
Exactly at the end of the neutral rollout, literally right by the sign, Hunter Zeising and Dirk Himley (Hammer Nutrition) attacked. I knew to expect that and was right behind them, so I followed and caught on (nobody can accuse me of not being able to predict some things in races anymore!), then everyone else caught on too.
The next 10 miles they took turns attacking until Dirk broke away by himself. I took a few pulls to close the gap, but the others decided to let him remain 20 seconds ahead, thinking he wouldn't last. Last year's road champion was one of those saying that. I was having a hard time just holding their wheels at times, so I was not sure what to think of that plan. And I know well that Dirk is a beast.
On the second lap, on the longest climb, we were flying uphill in single file, then I blew up just a few feet before the top of the hill and a gap opened that I couldn't close. I finished the second lap, but my hips, feet and triceps were hurting, so I stopped. Turns out Detlef got dropped later that same lap, so I guess it must have been fast.
Dirk won, solo; I guess they underestimated him. I had hoped the pace would be slow, since the lack of big teams usually has that effect. But Hunter and Dirk worked together really well. Dirk going solo for 2.5 hours is amazing. So I rode hard for 2:07 (I think our first lap was about 0:58, and my second lap about 1:09), and I think it was nice prep for State crits two weeks later.