This past weekend my; father, brother and I took a road trip south to historic Nevada City in Northern California. Nevada City is the second oldest race in America and one of the hardest courses I’ve ever raced. This years race was only made harder buy the presences of; Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, and Lance Armstrong. However, before I had to race with the big boys of the sport, I competed in the junior race, which turned out to be faster that I expected.
Nevada City is up in the foothills of the Sierras so, as you can imagine it’s hilly. The course has a zigzag climb up the back street of the old town, then a screaming straight descent down Main Street before a tight left hand off camber turn at the bottom. Racing this course is much like a set of twenty intervals, and you are maxed out on the climb but have just enough time on the downhill to recover and do it all over again.
The junior race commenced with around thirty riders from ages 10-18, so the difference of experience and strength was great. It didn’t take more than two laps for us older riders to get in a group of our own at the front. For several laps I went to the front and punched it up the climb but couldn’t get our group any smaller. After a few more laps I was able to get away on the downhill nonetheless, and with six laps to got I was off the front solo. I was able stay away for the remaining laps and win the junior race.
After the junior race it was time to start recovering for the day’s later race with
Armstrong and his friends. The time pasted quicker than I had thought and before I knew it I was back in my chamois heading down to the course. One the start line I waited as the three big names, along with other top riders were called to the start line.
When the gun was fired and the raced started was when it first hit me, I was racing with Lance. I worked hard to move forward in the pack, as did everyone else, but slowly moved into the top thirty. Not to long after the pace increased and riders began to drop, and before long I myself was in the red. By now; Lance, Levi, and Ben where off the front and quickly coming to lap me, as the three riders came past I jumped onto their wheel and hung on as long as I could. It turned out to be longer than I had expected, for seven laps I fought my body to hang with the leaders of the race, and having nearly 25,000 spectators cheering us on I was able to ride just that little bit harder. Riding at the fast pace with the leaders I was able to rejoin the main pack of fifteen riders, but as Lance passed the group he upped the tempo again and I was at my limit. I started to ride a pace that was comfortable and once I had recovered a bit started to ride faster.
I began catching riders one by one as the climb started to take a toll on everyone’s legs. And with three laps to go I looked back to see that Lance was gaining and about to come around me for a second time. I lifted my pace just a little to prolong the infinite catch, which didn’t take place till the following lap. He caught me at the top of the climb and again I jumped on his wheel. As we crested the top the paced slowed so I decided to give him some help. I went to the front and gave it all I had, and leading through the start/finish I heard one lap to go. The crowds were going wild. I lead him into the sharp left hand turn and accelerated up the climb knowing I only had one lap left. It was an awesome feeling leading the greatest Tour de France riders in history up the finial lap of his first victory since his seventh tour win.
Nevada City was a great week of racing, but its time again to go back east and win some races with the team. Monday I fly back to Boston where starting on Thursday Hot Tubes will defend a long winning streak at the Fitchburg Classic. Then we will travel to Kentucky to compete in a junior stage race, which will be the first UCI junior race help in the US.
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Here is a link to a video of Lance, Levi, Ben and I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdmOgG8tBoU