Spring Prairie Report

alkickinit2.jpg6/8/2008 By Al (photo by Chris Dilts)

My attack was kinda accidental. I was trying to set up Adam just after I fought my way to the front by stringing out the pack going into the climb and making it harder for people further back to catch him. We were trading pulls at the front in the 4th stretch before the big climb. I noticed a lot of the Cuttin' Crew had moved up to the front now. XXX was either anticipating our attack or planning one of their own because they started swarming too. I started the climb maybe 2nd or 3rd wheel on the right side. XXX kept streaming up to my left and were effectively boxing Adam and I in, intentionally or not. I got pissed. I don't just let people box me in. I shouldered my way out to the left, finally got some open road, and my frustration powered me up that hill. I was still expecting Adam to attack, but when I got to the top, I had a pretty good gap. I rode tempo to see what was going to happen. Peter Strittmeyer of XXX chased me down along with a Wheaton rider. I realized between us and XXX, we would combine for some pretty serious blocking. A Tower Racing guy caught up pretty quick too and yelled "Let's go!" So I did.

I still wasn't intending to really break away so much as give Adam something to counterattack. I wasn't going to win this race. I got dropped climbing Holy Hill and in Baraboo last year. There was no way I could hold it over all the climbs. Adam is the climber. He's from Wisconsin. This is his race. But our gap increased, and I went with it. Next lap, I pushed it kind of hard on the hill because this was where the aerodynamics of riding in a big pack wouldn't matter, and we needed to put time in on the big group. But the other guys in the break faded in the climb. I realized that my hard work on my mashing a big gear and my short intervals had paid off. My plan changed to working to maintain the break, chasing down anyone who attacked, and winning the final climb. But what if that was what they wanted me to think? What if someone was hiding their talent? Sitting in just to fly by me at the end? Well, I wouldn't be able to attack on the flats anyways since my new front shifter cable had stretched enough to not shift any more. I had no big ring, just a 39. The climb was all I had.

The die was cast. The attack never came. We just rotated pretty evenly after I caught my breath. I put everything I had into that hill. I looked back near the top and had a nice gap. I still wasn't sure. I wheezed up to the line and kept my head down, sure I would get caught at the line if I sat up and celebrated. I didn't want to be that guy. But I still had enough left to carry me over the line with a nice gap.