Heading up to Reno I was feeling pretty good coming off my win at Lodi. With John Novikoff and Marty Cunningham joining there were 3 of us in the 35+ race. Marty had just raced the 45+ category so he came in a little tired.
This was one of the bigger races of the year, with 48 riders and many big names showing up to try to win the Mighty Tour de Nez “Headstone” they give to the winner. 7 minutes into the race I was thinking that the headstone was an appropriate trophy.
I spoke with Justin Rossi before the race and he said he was going to “warm up” in our race before he raced the pro 1/2 field later that day. Basically what he meant was, (to quote Larry Bird), “Who among you is going to get second?”
Anyway the race started hard and the 4500′ elevation started to take its toll on my lungs rather quickly. I started having serious thoughts of pulling out of the race. Knowing I had good fitness I was wondering why there was a pack of 20 riders in front of me that started to get a gap. This can’t be right?!?! However, with Rossi and Buckley being hometown favorites and used to the thin air, Mike Sayers and Chris Phipps (who is a known freak on a bike) pushing the pace it started to make sense. About 15-20 minutes into our 50 min race Novikoff gave one last effort to bring our second pack back to the group, and it was then that I knew pulling out was no option. I went deep for a half a lap and bridged up, and spent the next 20 minutes trying not to get spit out the back again. Buckley kept attacking and trying to split the field and the field was cut down to the eventual 18 that managed to finish the race.
It was encouraging to know John was having a good time after he popped off the back:Inline image 1
With 3 laps to go, Rossi decided he was done riding tempo and needed a proper warm up. He turned on the style and rode away from the group, taking the win and leaving the rest of us to watch what a “real” bike racer can do.
With 2 laps to go I mentally “girded my loins” and forced myself into a top 5 position, knowing that once again, position is key to a good placing. Final lap, 2 turns to go and I have 3rd wheel, right behind Sayers. My Dad always told me,” He who hesitates, loses”. And I proved him right by waiting for someone else to attack. Jan Weissenburger jumped and I followed Sayers for 3rd wheel into the last turn. I hit something in the last corner that caused my rear wheel to rise about what felt like 3 feet, and I did everything I could to not go over the bars. I lost all momentum, and lost a place to the hard charging Dean LaBerge, leaving me with 5th place and the last podium spot. Thanks for reading!