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Dunnigan Hills Road Race Men 4s August 13

Contributors: Ryan Odell, photo by Mark Nakamura--http://www.flickr.com/photos/29833755@N08/

The first lap was easy enough. Jeff Weaver, Ryan Malm, and me were staying out of the wind and conserving energy while Jason Brasel, Chris Hopkins, and Ryan Alvey were patrolling the front. There were a few breakaway attempts and it was nice to see DBC represent every one of them. We had 4-5 less guys than some of the bigger teams but still had a guy in every break. Great job guys!

Team Hopkins schaller and Odell
Chris Hopkins, Jeff Schaller, and Ryan Odell working as a team.

As we began our trek south on Rd 99W the group was all together and we were feeling great. There were some pretty bad potholes along this section and sure enough I went right through one and pinched my back tire.  This was only 33 miles into the race and I knew my race was pretty much over.  I changed the flat quickly (thankfully I brought a spare!) but soon realized my tire hadn't fully seeded so I had to waste more time and another CO2 to get it right.  By then the group was way out of sight.

I time-trialed as hard as I could but it was clear I would not be able to catch the group alone.  I looked back and noticed a break of 4 guys were approaching from the M35+ 1/2/3 race.  I jumped into their slipstream and left a small gap so that I would not interrupt their rotation.  I might have been breaking the rules here but at this point it was either a DQ or DNF so there wasn't much to lose.  Plus, we had no follow vehicle!  As we began lap 2, I could see the tail end of the E4 pack getting closer and closer.  After 15 miles of chasing (or wheelsucking), I regained contact!  I yelled out a big THANK YOU to the break as they continued on up the road.  I was now back in the race... but with a few less matches in the book.

A few miles past the feed and Jeff's back tire flatted.  Then at the second feed Malm flatted. Those were both huge blows to the team, especially for our end of race strategy.  We continued on and the remainder of our team stuck together.  As we passed the same area where I had flatted, there was another incident.  A rider hit a pothole so hard that his wheel turned from under him and he took out about 5 riders.  It was ugly but no teammates fell victim.  The chaos caused us to separate and it became every man for himself.

I moved to the top 20 with Brasel and Alvey nearby.  We tried to stay in good position without sticking our noses into the wind.  By the time we turned right off Rd 99W (~3 miles from home) it was clear that we would have to move to the front.  I moved up about 10 positions by riding the edge of pavement and slipping back into the pack in about 10th position.  The pace slowed to about 18 mph and there was no way to make up any ground.  Basically, wherever you were in the pack at this point was where you would finish.  As we made our final left I waited for the 200m sign to slide over the yellow line and start my sprint.  My legs locked up and I had nothing in me.  I was only able to maintain my position in the field.  Brasel came in just behind me.  Ryan Alvey and Chris Hopkins were in the middle of the pack.  As it turns out, Malm "borrowed" someone's powertap and finished the race alone a few minutes behind us!

This was a tough race and I am proud of how we rode as a team.  It's too bad we lost Jeff and Malm due to flats because we were poised to finish this race strong.  You know what they say, “That's bike racing!”

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