It’s unbelievable! The field had close to 60 riders at the Crank Your Heart in Opelika, AL. I’ve done bunches of sportives, club things, and such, but I’ve had this circled on calendar for a loooooong time. The race is a 22 mile circuit race with two laps of 11 miles. At the end of each lap, there is some stout climbing.
Looking around at the start line, I think I was one of the older dudes in the field. I had a plan. I worked hard all winter and knew I had a least a shot at a top ten. Maybe. Coming into the end of the first lap I was sitting on the fourth wheel back and feeling calm with good breathing and heart rate. Before the climbing section, the speeds were floating between 21 and 26 mph. Like I said, I felt good and stuck with my plan. For most of the second lap, I drifted around 4 or 5 in the bunch, and my confidence started growing. At the base of the final climb, a bunch jumped out and came around us, but we keep them in sight and . . . they faded. Now, there are only four of us at the top and starting our descent. The guy I was most concerned about began to hammer down the climb that bottomed and rolled into two pretty good little hills before the finish. I took off. I checked once about half way down and found that it was just the two of us left. I made his wheel on the second to the last hill and held. Down again. On the way up the last climb before the finish, I saw him glance over his shoulder to see where I was . . . I hit it. My jump was good. I had about 500 meters to the finish, and I knew, by the way the other guy’s bike was shifting under him, he was spent. I emptied the tank.
Crossing the line first, for the first time, I threw my hands in the air and almost . . . almost starting getting teared up with my sweet wife and family screaming at the line. I know this sounds kind of ridiculous, but I know without a doubt I have worked so hard for this day. I want to scream it from the roof tops! Could it be possible to get an interview from Velonews? Okay, I need to calm down. So the ceremony wasn’t anything close to UCI standards, but it was awesome to hear my name called over the PA system and receive my first place medal for overall top male rider. I also received a $100 gift card and a gift certificate to Road ID. It is a day that I will probably never forget . . . with my Valentine right there by my side.