A whole bunch of IC riders headed out to the far, far suburb of Leland for the Leland Kermesse. I'm not sure what Kermesse means, but I'm pretty sure it is Flemmish for crappy roads.
Before the race Jason Meshberg offered sage advice to get to the front before the gravel because those at the front will put minutes into the rest of the field right away. I told my teammates to mark the strong guys, especially the cyclocrossers, because I had a feeling they would be the ones drilling it in the gravel. I also had a feeling the first break to get away would stay away for the rest of the race.
About 2 or 3 miles into the race, before we get to the gravel I'm talking to Larson. He drops back behind me to get a better draft and then I the sound of metal and carbon I pavement. I turn around to say, "hey Larson, did you see who crashed?," but I see no more Larson. Damn, taken out by a pot hole.
In the first gravel section, I'm not in great position in the group but I'm on Russ's wheel. I know that even if we get gapped here we can work together to move up. Next thing I know, a XXXer crashes for no apparent reason other than sliding a little and takes out Russ. I swerve into the ditch and save myself. This race is so chaotic. Where are my teamates at?
It seems like the group stayed together after the first gravel section. I move to the front and sit on Ben Popper and Mike Hemme's wheel. Sounds pretty weak, but this was my race strategy. I figured they would get anxious and go soon. Once we got to the gravel sections with a tailwind they went and I went with them hitting speeds over 35 mph. We exit the gravel and look back, there are just five of us left. I can't believe everybody got popped that easily, but the guys in the break are exactly the guys I expected to be in the break, Mike (CXer), Ben(CXer), John(CXer), and Patryk(Rookie).
John is the captain of the break and he organizes us into a paceline and we go to work putting time into the field. The first two laps were so hard I thought I could blow up at any time. Hemme fell off the pace and then Ben. Two laps to go and it is just the 3 of us. A chase group was no where in sight.
Knowing Ben and Mike are behind us I know they could catch a second wind if they can get some recovery when a chase group catches them, so I keep drilling it everytime I take a pull. Patryk flats about 2 miles from the finish and then it is just John and I as we make the last turn and cruise in to town.
It's a gentlemany sprint where John rides next to me and says that he doesn't want to sit on my wheel and then go around me at the end. I tell him it's all good, and do what you gotta do. I gauge the crosswind and go to the right side gutter and start riding hard leading out. John comes around me and I hope to get a nice draft on his right hip. It would have been a good strategy if I had anything left in the legs, but I get nipped by a wheel and take second.
It was a pretty good day for IC. Russ was 9th and Jordan was 10th. Tim was 10th in the 1/2/3 and Katie was 5th in the 4's.
I wish there were more road races like this. Big thanks to the Flatlandia crew for hosting such a great event.