Last year's Poolesville race was pretty much over for me from the word go. Sitting dead last was not the place to be, and I found myself having to pass people and close gaps in the dirt section, which took a lot out of me. Lesson learned.
This edition was going to be different for me, so I decided to stay towards the front this time. No sooner had we gone through the neutral roll out and a DC Velo kid had the group single file. I wasn't completely warmed up yet and could feel my knees popping, but the effort kept the group in check on the approach to the dirt section. I entered it and took the right lane, which turned out to be, in my humble opinion, the wrong lane. It became littered with flying bottles and the "holes", looked more like trenches, which put an end to several riders' day. The rest of the first lap was without incident for me, other than having to give one of my bottles to Jose who had lost his onboard water supply. NCVC had a lone rider just off the front.
At the start of the second lap, the group picked up speed through the section of rollers at the beginning of the course, when all of the sudden the breakaway NCVC rider was laying on the road and it didn't look like he was getting up any time soon (hopefully you are OK dude). On the start of the third lap, the group picked up steam and we went through the roller section quite fast, and on the approach to where the NCVC had gone down, the motorcycle referee almost came to a complete stop, trying to warn the group that we had to slow down due to the EMT trucks attending the NCVC guy and Rayman who had also tasted pavement in the 40+/50+ race. Because of the sudden breaking, a crash almost happened, and Jose ended up having his front wheel hit someone's rear deraillieur, which caused two spokes to bend and his front wheel was pretty much out of commission. He kept going though, but his luck was about to run out.
Entering the "rider/waterbottle/flats/crash graveyard", two riders went down hard and everyone had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with the two who had gone down. I got through it just fine, but Jose's momentum carried him in a different direction and he was on a collision course with a girl and a tree. Thankfully, he picked the tree and came away with a bruised lower arm and his day was now officially over. The size of the group coming out of the gravel section was now about 25 riders, and we faced one more crossing before heading to the finish. Teams were playing their cards now, sending riders off the front, which caused the pace to stay a little high, but nothing too uncomfortable. That's until the beginning of the last lap, when a group of about seven riders went off the front and quickly got down to business. All of big teams were represented (Artemis, Capitol Hill, AABC) and it was left to the rest to close the gap. A Haymarket guy, on his way to the front, was pretty much on the yellow line and almost took me and another guy down. He made it there alright and then he went on to tow the rest of the group back to the leaders. I'm sure he paid for that one at the end.
Artemis then went on the offensive and sent a rider off the front, with a NCVC guy in hot pursuit. The two stayed out there through the feedzone when the last two Capitol Hill guys went to the front and ramped the speed up. It was time to find a wheel to follow and I went with a AABC guy on a Cervelo, but next thing I know, Jorge from Artemis came by and I got on his wheel. I knew Jorge was on good form because I saw him sprint on the Sunday ride and he was strong. And it was no different today, because with about 150m to go, he jumped hard and quickly got a gap. I reacted and went after him, but I wasn't going to get him, he was by far the faster sprinter and crossed the line first, just ahead of his teammate and I came in third.
A fantastic result for myself and the team, which is now sporting the new colors (mostly black, with some red and a touch of white), a very nice look if I say so myself. Now, I'm down with a cold, but things should be just fine for next week. Guys are going to be out for revenge for sure, but all I need to do is continue to ride with confidence and be aggressive.