Cow Country Classic 2014 1/2/3 Race PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jesse Vernon   
Monday, 09 June 2014 09:33

Weather at the start was maybe 69 degress.  Perfect.  Landen, Orion Berryman, Josh T, Matt Seeley, and Scott H. were in the 1/2s along with some other guys I don't know.  Bracken Spencer was in the 3s and David Coletta's brother, John (3), who races for the Amgen Masters team out of Boulder CO was there as well.  I went in thinking I would work against the 3s and see what happened.

I have to say, the level of the 1/2s is pretty awe inspiring.  Those guys, Matt Seeley, Josh Tack, Orion Berryman, can turn it up and leave you on the side of the road in a heartbeat, but not too long ago our "A" team was mopping the floor with them. I'm always amazed by the range of ability in bike racing.  Just when you think somebody's fast, there's always somebody faster.

The course starts with a 40 mile out and back that was fast, but flat and not too taxing.  Both of my bottles popped out of their cages going over the bridge at the turnaround; one going out, then 5 minutes later the other coming back.  Not good.  I got one handed back up from the car, which calmed my nerves a bit.  Alan Adams, hearing my angst over the prospect of 45 more miles light on water just said, "don't worry about it. (pause for effect) No, really, you have the water you have.  Stop." Exactly what I needed to hear.

The "big hill" was insane.  There was a lot of scrambling going on, as you might expect, for better position.  I had to touch the brakes at the bottom and then sprint up to a group of maybe the strongest five 1/2s, Josh, Orion, Matt, Scott and Landen.  I went again with Landen when he jumped (stupid), and again when he jumped again (more stupid).  At that point it was me and the five 1/2s, all guys I was deathly afraid of, but we had dropped the rest of the field.  Unfortunately, while I was chasing Landen the other 4 guys knew enough to chill out and keep him in their crosshairs.  A little cooked (OK, a lot) from the surges I fell back into no persons land and got joined right at the crest of the hill by Bracken and another Cat. 3.

- Good news: still at the pointy end. Bad news: didn't stay with the lead 1/2s and get an armchair ride to victory in the 3s.  Had I stayed attached, the other two 3 wouldn't have caught back on either, because they wouldn't have had me helping.-
John Coletta (Cat. 3) then somehow got back to us too.  Damn.  We then started working way harder than I thought we would and kept the lead 1/2s in sight.  Somewhere around 60 miles in I got a bad cramp in my right leg and sat a couple of turns out.  Not a good sign.

To my shock, we caught the lead group of 1/2s.  We worked toward the finish and pushed through the climbs.

With 2 or 3 climbs to go it got real.  Out of nowhere a nasty wind starts blasting us, then rain.  Attacks went, eyes crossed, there was weeping, and Josh Tack (NRO) and Matt Seeley (MT Velo) were away.  Then Scott Herzig (MT Velo) and Orion (NRO) were off and behind them.  When they went Bracken (Cat 3) and the other 3 were already gone and I just made the call (read: couldn't go with them) to stick with John Coletta (Cat 3, Amgen) and Landen (BMC Development Team).

On the last hill, about 5 miles out from the finish I maneuvered behind John with Landen hanging around getting ready to attack John.  I went to stand up and both legs seized.  Dang.  John kept a strong pace and now my legs felt like paperweights. Really Dang.  I ended up going over with them, barely, by just moving my whole body weight from pedal to pedal.  Not fun, but whatever.  I went from agitating on the climb and thinking I would distance them to being completely on the back foot.

John and I were able to spin the legs in Landen's draft as he chased hard trying to catch the 1/2s on the last descent.  We weren't helping.  200 to go and John and I went around Landen.  We both stood up and I seized again.  200 watts less than my already poor sprint, even at max, and 500 watts less than my 5 sec average.  Needless to say, not gonna get it done, especially against a guy probably faster than me to begin with.  Pretty damn frustrating, but happy overall, and John was an annoyingly nice and gracious guy; even if I do have to now stew over the close miss for the rest of the summer.  2nd in the 3s and 6th overall.  The overall placing was pretty gratifying.  We dropped four other 1/2s, including Alan A. and Geoff R. with Rockford (both super strong, super experienced), and I placed ahead of Landen, so I should probably just retire now.

Best part of the race: Scott Herzig said I looked like Brad.  Not looks-wise, I'm obviously way hotter, but in my setup, style and the way I was racing.  Way cool compliment, even if it's not accurate.


1) Didn't get dropped.

2) On the out and back guys were attacking from the front of the field.  I assumed in the A field there would be less of that.

3) The out and back really wasn't THAT bad.  Almost like a good a warmup, and overall the 87 felt shorter than 87.  Ask me again when it's 80 degrees...

4) 5 lbs less, or a larger brain (much larger), and I go over the climb with the lead guys, maybe get top 3 overall.  Maybe.

5) Bummed it wasn't the State race after all.  If it were, I would have won the Cat. 3 State Champ jersey for GAS/Instrinsik (John Coletta is an out of stater).5) As always in MT, the field was really strong but not a whiff of the elitism you find in other states, and from riders with much less to be elitist about.