Colorado State Championship 05/31/2015 - By Brett Wachtendorf

Deer Trail Road Race

May 31, 2015

 

Deer Trail, CO is about an hour east from Denver located in the plains. The day was less than flat though as the course was over constant rolling terrain. The race covered 87miles with a total of 4500ft of elevation gain. The route was an L-shaped out and back consisting of 4 laps. This was the Colorado State Championship Road Race and the field consisted of 60 riders. The day was hot and there was no respite from the sun as there were no trees to provide shade on the course...not one.

 

Within 10 miles of the start, a breakaway of 3 riders had been established and opened a 2-minute gap. The field continued to chase in a yo-yoing fashion with the pace constantly changing from fast to not so fast. Slowly the break began to be pulled back and the real action of the day was about to begin. When the break was within 30 seconds of the peloton, a group of  6 or 7 rolled off the front. At the time I was at the back of the peloton (not a place I should've been) so I began to move up, very quickly. 2 more guys rolled off the front and at this point I was 7 or 8 guys back from the front. I waited briefly to see if the field would react but after realizing that the field was either satisfied with the break I made my move and bridged to the 2 who had just fled 30 seconds prior. Now, at this point in time in my life I had just moved to Colorado 2 weeks ago and the acclimation was just about "complete" but this bridge was no easy feat and they rarely are.

 

After bridging a 20-25 second gap I was hurting but I still had more work to do as the group of now 3 still had to catch the front group of 11. We worked together taking even pulls and after 5-10 minutes we were in the front group where I then proceeded to skip a bunch of turns to get a much needed rest. The group worked fairly cohesively, with people skipping turns here and there, and we had established a 2-minute gap. The gap fluctuated anywhere from a minute to 2 minutes over the next 20 miles. At mile 50, a rider rolled off the front group and was soon joined by 2 more riders. Their largest advantage was 1 minute and with 12 miles left in the race they were down to 30 seconds. Our group was slowly deteriorating. Riders were dropping from the group one by one until there were 5 of us left. With 7miles to go, the break of 3 began to fall apart as well. Everyone was on their limit.

 

At the final turn around point we had 3 or 4 miles left in the race and a rider attacked out of the turn and we dropped one more. We then caught a rider from the break and the group had the final two riders (now each riding solo) in sight. Keegan Swirbul of the Axeon Racing team put in a hard attack with 2km to go and I knew I had to follow if I wanted any chance at the podium, so I jumped on his wheel and hung on. We had created a gap and now it was time to think about the finish, which was rapidly approaching. I pull through once to ensure the gap sticks. I pull off, Swirbul pulls through. 1 km to go, 750m to go. He pulls off but I stay on his wheel and he knows I will not pull through at this point. He continues to drive the two of us. 250m to go he begins his sprint and I follow still on his wheel. 200m, I pull around him, now I'm in 3rd but 2nd is still obtainable. I'm sprinting, giving everything I have left, closing in on 2nd . 50 meters to go, I move to his left. I continue to make up ground and I give a last effort bike throw to snag 2nd at the line by the narrowest of margins, 4 hundredths of a second separated 2nd and 3rd and I came out on top. In the end we averaged just shy of 25mph and finished in 3.5 hours. Quite a day in the saddle, and the end result was well worth the pain and suffering.

 

After the previous month and a half of illness, the stress of graduating Penn State, and my lack luster performance at collegiate nationals, it was the result I needed to begin rebuilding confidence as I prepare for U23 nationals June 24th in North Lake Tahoe, CA.