“STATE CHAMPION!!!! I did it!
Pretty much a perfect race. The first lap was fairly slow except for a number of breaks by guys who were not a threat and I let others pull them back for the most part. I decided not to break on the first lap. My legs were feeling so-so and the climbers I talked to before the race were not hot on the idea of a first lap break.
On the second lap, just before the first hill a guy (Mike Mueller) who I was told was a ringer who had not raced for 2 years tried to break and I pulled him back quickly. I waited until about 1/3 of the way up the first climb hitting 498 for 1 minute. I looked back after 10 seconds and I had about a 25 yard gap so I hit it again and kept up a strong pace over the next couple of long rollers, feeling good at that point with 353 for 5 minutes, 327 for 10 minutes and 314 for 20.
I built about several hundred yards on the field but saw Mueller coming. He apparently waited until the top of the first climb to break. When he came up with about 15+ miles to go, I told him we should work together and so we did. He was the perfect guy to work with, better than the other climbers who never made an effort. Each of us took even shortish pulls and he was strong. I told him we needed to really work the first bigger climb on the last leg after the turnaround. He did, but I could tell I had stronger climbing legs.
We kept about a quarter mile on the second group until about 2 miles or less to go. As we approached the final climb we discovered that 3 or 4 of them (the Crit guys) we charging hard and maybe only 15-20 seconds back. I let Mike take the lead on the power climb and towards the top of the steeper part he made a big break. I got out of the saddle briefly while he was still out and was able to catch back up. Just as it was about to flatten out a bit with less than 200 yards, I hit it and he could not respond. I won by 5 seconds.
The crit guys were next 13+ seconds behind me. They were blaming each other for not working together enough. Too bad.
That is my first real race break, and it took a fair amount of courage to make that leap. I was afraid of falling on my face, but my legs felt good and I knew you were onto something. It was also the only time other than Castaic last year I won a power climb sprint. Also, my first real championship. Pretty happy about that and the bear jersey to come!
Thanks for taking time to give me some great advice. The guys told me that they were not expecting anyone to go mid climb at that point and told me it was a great move.” – Rich Mull
PCG Coach: Ron Peterson