For those who are not aware Mount Pleasant is a three day stage race that consists of a 4.1 mile prologue on Friday, a criterium on Saturday, and then a 54-mile road race on Sunday. I competed in all three stages in hopes to use the weekend as preparation for Tour of the Valley, which is a stage race in July that is one of my target races for the season.
Despite the fact that Mount Pleasant was really just preparation for later in the season, I was going into the event with high expectations, particularly for Friday’s prologue. Things did not get off to a great start at no fault of my own. Without going into detail, the race director made a last minute decision that totally contradicted information posted on their website, which left me scrambling at the last minute to change my bike setup from a rear disc to a normal aero wheel. Due to a shortage of time I was not able to do my normal warm up, or much of a warm up for that matter. To make things worse I nearly rode off of the side of the start ramp. So I found myself 2 minutes into the effort with my insides feeling like they were being torn out and my legs feeling like they were going to explode. After backing things down slightly on a couple downhill sections I was able to recover somewhat and get into something that resembled a normal paced effort. I came across the finish line at 9 minutes 35 seconds, about 30 seconds slower than I wanted to be, putting me in 6th place. I hate saying I was disappointed with a 6th place finish in a strong field, but with everything that went on, I was.
The criterium course was a nice course through downtown that contained a couple of tight technical corners. Shortly after the start of the race two guys went off of the front, with things being so early in the race the field did not respond and I was not overly concerned, that was until I realized that the two guys off of the front were 1st and 3rd in the prologue. The gap quickly grew to 40 seconds and I knew unless I could bridge the gap the race was over, so I made a solo effort to get across. After a couple of laps of being out on my own I managed to bring the gap down to around 30 seconds. On about my 4th lap out, a points prime was called, and while the field would not work to win the race itself they worked pretty hard to pull me back for one lousy point. I managed to stay out long enough to get the point, but the field closed the gap and swept me up, at that point any sense of forward progression was over. I set myself up for a solid sprint for 3rd, but was forced into a curb on the exit to the final straight and only managed to grab 8th.
After the previous two events 1st and 2nd place in the GC were pretty much locked up and I was sitting in 5th at the start of the road race. With all of the events I had done this season and the only win being in a time trial, I was beginning to feel as if I had a monkey on my back and really needed to win. With temperatures well into the 90s, heat was definitely a factor, this combined with endless attacks from the start of the race made for a very difficult first 20 miles. After a mad scramble to contain an attack at mile 25, I could sense everyone in the field was hurting, myself included, so naturally I dug deep and went. I quickly found myself putting a large gap on the field, to the point where at times I could not even look back and see them, so I wrote the “big check”, put my head down, and dug in for the long haul. After about 10 miles into my solo effort the two guys who were sitting 1 and 2 managed to bridge up, I jumped in with them, but our trio would be short lived as the field had responded to the threat of them joining me and were not too far back. What followed was a furry of attacks that I really don’t remember to well, as all I was doing was hanging on for dear life, but at some point the guys sitting 1 and 2 in the GC got off of the front. I could not let that move go and put in a solid effort to make it across the gap. After such an intense race I was starting to get tired and overheated, and began having trouble getting back on after the modest pulls I was taking. On top of this the field seemed as if they were just letting us sit out, one of the guys even commented that they were just screwing with us (he actually used another term, but we will keep this PG). That comment stuck in my head and when I finally lost the wheel in front of me and had the option of trying to dig through the intense pain and dehydration to attempt to make my legs put out the extra effort to get the wheel back, or give in and let the field sweep me up and hopefully eventually sweep them up, I gave in and chose option B. I later found out that the field was being driven by efforts from Ventus and Priority, who had guys in 3rd and 4th in the overall and since the guys in 1 and 2 had such dominant efforts the previous days they were out of reach, even for the guy sitting in 3rd. So once they saw me falling back, the chase began to fall apart and the field slowed. By the time I realized what was happening I was too far dropped to get back on, but it didn’t stop me from trying. One of the worst experiences I have felt in racing was sitting in the peloton, watching the wheel I was once on, ride away into the sunset. As we were closing those final miles, the combination of heat and the intensity of the efforts that I made for the day left me questioning if I even had the legs to contest the sprint. A last minute attack by two guys from the main field left everyone sprinting for 5th and I somehow managed to fight my way to the front and take 3rd in the field sprint for a 8th place finish.
I did get finished in time to watch Scott Hunter take the win in the Cat 5 field, congrats to Scott!!
With three consistent finishes, I managed to finish 4th
overall for the weekend and while I left Mount Pleasant with enough cash to foot the bill for my entry and gas, I am still lacking a win in a mass start event for 2012. The monkey on my back is turning into a gorilla and I am really hopeful that my three peak weekends from June 30th
until July 15th
bring about at least one win.