Bear mauling at Sea Otter Classic 45+
Once it was race time, Hans got it started with a few attacks on the first lap, which helped spring a break of 7 of us. (Gardie, Oddvar and Holger and myself meant the Bears had the numbers; plus with Gardie, we also had the looks. The others: Make-a-Wish’s Cam Birky and Bryan Hoadley, plus Core’s Eric Saltzman, who was in a bit over his head. We missed Hans, but he had drilled it a number of times to set us up, and with a majority in the break, we set about piling it on.)
It’s unusual for the first-lap break to stick at Sea Otter (given it’s a shorter race and the final climb tends to decide everything anyway.) Usually other riders/teams will at least keep a break close. But not this time. We piled it on during the first lap and ran the advantage out to about 1min. All of us were working hard and stretching the gap so that by lap 3 (of 6) we had doubled our advantage. At that point, it was clear we were going to stay away, so both Holger and Oddvar took solo flyers, staying off the front or on the front for a lap each. With those strong efforts, which put pressure on Cam and Bryan, the gap expanded out to 6mins or so.
On the rollers as we headed toward the start of the final lap, Oddvar powered away, taking Birky with him. They drilled it and got a 30sec lead as they hit the short initial climb. It’s my kind of climb (0.5mile, full power), so I hit it hard and bridged to Oddvar and Birky. Oddvar took over and pushed the pace, while Birky sat out of our pulls because he was looking back at Bryan, who was tailed off on the climb but was trying to ride back up to us on the rollers. We didn’t close the door firmly enough (the gap to Bryan never got more than 30sec) and on the feed climb, he re-joined. Well, he would have if Birky hadn’t punched it and rode away from us. All the work that Oddvar did in the break caught up with him, so he and Bryan paired up while I set off up the road to pair up with Birky.
Cam was a little fresher, and was jamming so I just hung back, 10-15secs from him. I was hoping if I dangled, Oddvar could set a target on me and come up before we hit the final climb. Just after we rounded the turn onto the 2mile finishing climb, the four of us were back together. Cam rode hard tempo all the way up the climb, which is fairly shallow at the start but then stiffens a bit around 1km and really stiffens for the last 200m. (The climb: 2.25miles, with varying pitch of 5-15%; we climbed it in just under 9mins.)
Just before we hit the 200m to go sign, I shifted down two gears and sprinted up the inside lane. Since I really didn’t have to do much work during the race (thanks to the team) I was feeling great and had a good kick there at the end. Cam came in a well-deserved second and Byran just nosed ahead of Oddvar for the final podium spot. But after that there was a herd of Bears: Oddvar 4th, Holger 5th, Gardie 6th and Hans as the top finisher from the field in 8th. It’s a great day for the team when you can stack every Bear in the Top 10.
Let’s keep it rolling.