This was my third time racing the Snelling Road Race. I raced it as a 5, a 4, and now as a 3 for the first time. After last year’s crazy wind I was mentally preparing for the worst. When we got there I was surprised that it was relatively warm and not windy at all. Perfect! After reg we took a warm up spin up the road and talked strategy. We all lined up out front for the rollout and it was time to race.
When the moto dropped us on the course there wasn’t much of a surge and we cruised along for a bit. I mentally marked the chicane on the front stretch as a spot where it usually strings out and breaks up. Also the bumpy road on the backside…especially if the wind picked up later on in the race. I tried to conserve as much as possible and rotated through the pack. There were definitely some early season jitters as people lost their bottles and had near crashes for seemingly no reason (not paying attention to the road). When we came around for the second lap everyone slowed down substantially so I took the opportunity to eat. I managed to split a sandwich with my buddy Jonathan mid-peloton while still “racing.” I hope someone with a GoPro got that.
Every lap the peloton would go harder on the backside and ease up on the front stretch. Jump through the chicane and up the rollers, then ease up again. Over and over. I kept marking Naveen and did whatever I could to spin up an easier gear into all the rollers and stay seated. Lots of racers would hit those in a gear too big and try to stand up and power through it, wasting a lot of energy. I used that as an opportunity to keep moving up and up through the group. There were a few break attempts, but nothing stuck. On one of those mid-race, Naveen and I set up Bangor perfectly and blocked the whole peloton for a bit which was good practice for us racing as a team. Jaffa and Benford were motoring the whole time. I don’t think Jaffa shifted out of his 15t the entire race.
When we hit 1 to go I started focusing on holding a higher position and finishing my water. The pack was getting jumpy as more attacks went off. Nothing would stick. Unfortunately, this caused what was left of the group to yo-yo a lot. I was wasting myself holding a good position and I started to feel it about halfway through the last lap. I was getting closer to Naveen and I wasn’t going to give up now. We were passing up the left side before the bridge and started to lose the shoulder a bit. I hit some sand and lost my front wheel for a few seconds going 30+ in the pack…SKETCHY! Fortunately, I was in the drops and saved it. The little adrenaline rush from that pushed me over the edge and I powered up the hill after the bridge and caught on Naveen’s wheel.
We were approaching the final turn into the bumpy stretch together, right behind Bangor, in a decent position but not as far up as we needed to be. In retrospect, this is where I should have taken over and wasted myself to position and then deliver Naveen through the last corner. Instead, I waited on his wheel like we planned and hoped we could somehow weasel our way up 20 slots. At this point seemingly everyone who hit the front would take the pack to the gutter resulting in a big wall of people riding inconsistently towards the final turn. We were approaching the downhill before the final turn and hadn’t made up enough wheels. The only way one or both of us could have contested was if we came through that turn top 10. We might have been top 40. I’m not sure where I placed but I just jammed it from the last corner and followed Naveen across the line.
It wasn’t the result we wanted, but I’ve never finished Snelling feeling relatively ‘good’ so that was a huge personal improvement. It was also great racing with all of our 3s together in a field for the first time.