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Superstars Phil and Scot “double down” at Madera E3 Stage Race

ThirstyBear participants – Phil Hynes, Scot McLean
Stages – 3 (TT and crit on Saturday and road race on Sunday)
Field – 73
Average age – 22?  (Would have been 19 were it not for Phil and me.)
I had cleared this race with the family about a month ago using my birthday as leverage.  Getting away in March for a stage race is unprecetended for this kid.  I am looking to upgrade this year and this weekend was an opprtunity to amass some points.  Phil and I were both focused on the stage 1 TT as our opportunity to establish ourselves as GC contenders.
This ended up being weekend full of surprises: a lucky break for me the night before stage 1, an unexpected decision from the official’s relating to Saturday’s crit, and a few unfortunate occurrences on Sunday.
I had decided to book a room in Madera Friday night in order to be as fresh as possible for Saturday morning’s 9 am TT (Madera is a two and three quarter hour drive from Marin).  As I pulled into the Madera Quality Inn check-in area, I felt a strange bump on the top of my car and heard what sounded like two soft knocks on a front door.  Then I was immediately in the grip of terror having realized what had taken place – I had forgotten that my my road bike was mounted at the top of my car (TT was in the back seat), and I had just driven into a covered parking area with just eight and a half of feet of clearance.  I jumped out of my car expecting to see the bike demolished..  My God!  It looked ok.  It turns out that the front of the saddle had just cleared the roof of the structure.  The back of the saddle, however, made contact and the bike was compressed and then released once the clearance increased to nine feet – that explained the bump and the two knock noises.  My rear tubular was flexible enough to prevent any damage to tthe seat post or frame.  Disaster was narrowly averted.
Stage 1 TT (Saturday AM)
Stage 1 was about a 20 minute drive North to a little town called Chowchilla.  The TT was a flat, three turn stretch of bumpy country road (10.5 miles).  Phil and I met up during warm-up and chatted a bit.  Phil started about 5 minutes in front of me – starts were every 30 seconds.  The wind kicked up and we had a headwind for the first three miles, and then a cross wind after the first turn (didn’t really enjoy a tailwind until the last two miles).  I worked hard in the first half of the ride, fighting the wind and shifting my line to avoid potholes.  It felt slow but I stayed down and caught my 30 second guy at the two mile mark.  I caught two others later on and motored in with some momentum.  I wanted a 22:40 (based on times posted last year)but ended up at 23:11.  I was initially disappointed.  Phil and I met up – hist time of 23:02 (9 seconds faster) looked like time to beat.  Now, I felt a bit better.  If I was just 9 seconds in back of Phil, then I was surely top 5.
It turns out that we were 1, 2 by a lomg stretch,  Phil had 9 seconds on my time,  and I had 23 seconds on third place.
Stage 2 Crit (Saturday afternoon -1 hour – ended up being a 27 mile crit)

Phil Hynes going full power
Phil and I were a bit disheartened to learn that the time bonuses for top 3 crit placings were so high – 20, 10, and 5.  Twenty second bonus for the win!?  There were also two 5 second prem laps.  We had marked the four guys in back of us and watched them like hawks.  Everything was fine and it looked like our time gaps were safe until a crash on the last lap – I was and half the field were separated from the first half by about two seconds.  That was enough for the field judge to award a 9 second time difference between the first and second halves of the race.  This 9 second penalty ended up being the crucial difference for me.  Phil was safe – he cruised across in seventh.  Phil looked absolutely unbeatable.  He was the class of the field.
Power house Scot Mclean pulling at the front
Power house Scot Mclean pulling at the front
Stage 3 (Sunday – 4 laps, 64 miles)
This was it.  Having not done this race before, I was quite anxious about this rough road section. I  was told that it was worse than Copperopolis.  I had no idea.  Phil and I lined up at the start.  We both knew that this could come down to equipment.  We were still 1,2.  I was vulnerable (now just 17 seconds in front of third and 20-25 in front of three or four others), but Phil’s lead looked insurmountable.   We rolled and hit the first lap bumpy section about.  I had started in the front part of the race but was soon falling back and struggling to find a line to avoid these gaping holes in the earth.  This was like jet turblance from hell.  the stretch seemed to go on and on.  Finally, the road seemed to smooth over, but the first lap had taken its toll on the field.  We had lost maybe five on that first lap.  Oh no, there was Phil as I road by!  He had flatted.  I road on as the new GC leader, but I was sick about Phil.  I was able to stay near the front for the remainder of the race, and the bumpy road section became more and more manageable over the succeeding three laps.

Phil chasing back after flat in final stage. A long ride home…
As we road through the final set of rollers, I was in a great spot – probably sixth wheel.  One of the GC threats took off solo and I let him go a bit, waiting for the last 1k before I hit the gas.  I just need to reel him in a bit to preserve the GC win.  I think it was my fourth or fifth peddle stroke out of the saddle when I was suddenly hit hard from the back.
All this way and then full stop for Scot
All this way and then full stop for Scot
I was smacked down on the road immediately on my left side – no warning at all.  Three or four others went down as well.  I was stunned and dazed.  A few guys road over me and my bike.  I rolled off to the side of the road, hoping to avoid further injury.  I was fairly lucky.  I realized that I was cut up pretty bad and my bike was a disaster – twisted and torn at the top.

Victory vanished in a split second, but still Scot gets on the bike and finish. A true sportsman “Never surrender”.
After about sixty seconds, I decided to get back on and peddle across the line in case it mattered.  I soon learned that one retains pack time in crashes within 3k of the finish.  I still had a chance.  I waited for two hours to learn that I had lost the GC win as a result of an arcane tiebreak rule.  I wom’t bore you with the math, but I ended up second.

Congratulations for Scot stepping up on the podium seriously bruised but still smiling!

Folks, this was Phil’s race.  He deserved the win and would have had it easily were it not for the mechanical.  I merely limped in for second.  Hats off to you Phil and sorry for what happened.  You were the man!
Scot

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