The Hellbender road race was just outside of Rolla, MO in a very rural part of the state on very good winding roads and two very hard hills.The turn out was very sub par as numbers go but some very tough fast racers and I always feel that smaller fields make for harder racing. I don't know why the turn out was so small, I would that that on fathers day all the racing dads would say "I wanna race", guess thats why I'm not ready to be a dad yet.
We start out with a neutral role out, turn left and start climbing. The first lap this climb isn't too bad, it is long but not too steep and there are a couple sections where you can rest. The whole pack seems to stay together and we role pretty easy until mile 21. This is when the real climb happens. At the top is a KOM where you can pick up some omnium points. I want and need some points but I have a good gap on the two guys behind me so I think don't kill yourself going up this, there is a lot of racing left. I stay in third wheel about 3/4 of the way up and then the big guns start to push it and I can't go.......shit! I am still within my ability but I can't go for the points and I am able to latch back on to the lead guys in short order. The next 10+ miles are nothing to really talk about, there were some short bursts of effort but no one was hurting from them. Getting closer to the feed zone I asked one of the big guns of the group, BJ from Momentum cycling, if it was ok to role off the front and get a lead so that I could get my feed and not drop behind. He thought that was ok and off I went. I picked up my bottles and the pack came by right as I was getting back on the bike, and up the first hill again. Well this time this hill hurt, and it hurt bad. This destroyed the pack and I was just only able to catch back on after a mile or more of chasing. Gideon Bennett, a young rider from CBC caught up to me and we worked our butts off to catch the group. Turns out we caught on just in time too as the group just started to move into a rotating pace line. This was great once we got into the group but not great for those chasing as they would not be able to catch. The pace line did start to hurt me soon though as well. We were pushing the pace hard and it was difficult to get some rest in. There were a few times that I tried to skip, some I was successful, most I was not. When we got to the big KOM climb I knew it was going to be hard but I thought that I would be able to dig deep and hold on. I was wrong. Gideon was behind me again and we started to work together to try and chase again. This time though we didn't have the power, and after a few miles we were caught by two Dog Fish riders who happen to be brothers. At this point was when I cracked and hit a wall, I wasn't able to keep the pace and I was on my own. For the next 8 miles or so I was having a very hard time keeping my vision straight and was hurting bad. The rest of the race ended with no real racing just getting to the line. I finished the day in 9th and was able to hang onto enough points to tie for 3rd. I was given 4th though because the rider I tied with won that day.
I was really worried that this was going to really hurt me for the next week and I was going to suck in Wisconsin. Tuesday almost made me think I was right. More to come.