I guess I can't complain much since I am "used to riding in this kind of weather," being from Bellingham and all, but that was definitely some of the nastiest weather I've raced in.
We rolled out of our hotel in Madison, WI to the location of the road race course, Blue Mound State Park. The park itself is a big wooded hill, apparently the highest point in southern Wisconsin. Getting kitted and ready proved challenging with eight people piled in the van trying to stay warm and dry. 42 degrees, windy, pissing rain. Fantastic.
The race started with a long, fast, snaking downhill which was a little scary with 80 riders jockeying for position in the pouring rain at 50mph. The next couple miles, now on rolling terrain, saw a few attacks and a 4 man break formed, which included Colin Gibson from Whitman. We all thought at the time that there was no way a break that early in that tough of a race would ever stay away. We were wrong.
The course had a couple short but very steep (10-15%) climbs and one long climb (1.5 miles at 8-10%) with the finish being after an additional mile of steep climbing. Colin and the other three riders gained as much as 4 minutes on the peloton throughout the day. On lap 4 of 5 my teammate Ben followed an attack from a Furman rider and the two of them worked on bridging up to the break. Consequently, at the same time, another teammate, Steve, flatted and had to chase back to the pack for a few miles. Nice work catching back on Steve!
When we hit the big climb the last lap, the pack had been beaten down to only 25 riders. Good news for WWU though because Ryan, Steve, and I were all still there with Ben still up the road! Nice. We started climbing and Steve put a good dig in that hurt a lot of people. I kept the pace high and rode clear of any followers. I caught Ben near the feed zone and we worked together for a bit. He was still riding strong despite having been off the front the last 20 miles.
The final half mile to the finish hurt pretty bad. Felt steeper than it looked. I rolled through the finish in 6th place. Ian Crane from Whatcom CC came in shortly after in 8th, Ben held off most of the pack for 12th, Steve was 15th, and Ryan 25th. Colin from Whitman stayed strong after being off the front all day and finished 5th. In the women's race, Courtenay rode super tough to 11th place. These results put our team in 2nd place in the team points omnium after the first event. Go team!
Next up is the crit. As of now(1pm Saturday afternoon), it's still cold and windy, with occasional rain and hail showers. Could be a wild one!