This week is the beginning of team camp, so to kick it off, we raced the Old Pueblo Classic in Tucson Arizona on March 9th. Old Pueblo is a standard of the early season where the fit west coasters beat up on everyone from cold climates. For the first ride of a team, it was a good test.
The race was about a mile loop with 6 corners and 2 long straights. The three corners coming into the finish were narrow and bumpy. The wind was crossing headwind for both straights. I rolled up to the start towards the back from having spun around the course to warm up. The sun was setting rapidly. It took me about 20 minutes from the start to get to the front. When I got up there, Daniel Holloway, Chad Hartley and Andrew Dahlheim were chasing moves. Chad yelled to jump when he saw four guys go. I moved to the front and went up to the second group on the road. Still more were farther up, I realized. I also saw that Holloway was in the front group, so I eased up. That came back together, and Holloway looked back and told me take his wheel. He blasted through the backside three corners with a gap behind us and smacked a sewer lid. His bottle flew out, so I went around up to the move. That was the break.
Alex Ray, Gord Fraser, and Todd wells were up setting a tough pace. There were 12 total in the break in the beginning. I kept finding myself on Alex’s wheel which was the worst draft I’ve ever experienced. He seems like he’s four feet tall when he’s on the bike. As such, I gradually felt worse and worse until I started getting gapped after pulling. I switched to other wheels but kept getting back to the world’s smallest draft.
We eventually started seeing the end of the group and that was good. When we made it across, Champion System went to the front and hammered the pace. It was everything I could do to stay in. Chad pushed me 4 or 5 times. Holloway was constantly moving me to the front. By 1 lap to go, I faded back towards the middle and got caught behind a crash. I finished towards the back of the group. Because I had lapped the field, I still finished 8th thanks to a lot of help. Good first race with the team. 27mph was a little too fast for the first race of the year. Holloway finished 12th and Chad finished 19th. Next race: Tucson Bicycle Classic stage race!