ABD/Gear Grinder Report: Carter Gets Rolling in Texas

Last week I was working in Corpus Christi, TX so last weekend I put my feet in the water and did my first race of the season in Copperas Cove, Texas near Austin on the way home. I'm still weightlifting and have done very little outdoor riding ... basically I'm still in winter training mode.
The race was just a local, barely a prize-list race so I was surprised to encounter a completely full field and approximately 10 pros! The flyer advertised an 83 mile road race, but it turned out to be 95 miles instead. The weather, which is usually very nice at this time of year, was about 40 degrees ... a little colder than I'd have enjoyed. The terrain was a little more hilly than I'd expected too, some of the climbs were 3 miles long.
I was a little antsy and made the first 2-man break; I knew I should not have gone in it as soon as we began. I still worked equally hard as the other rider and we stayed off for a few miles. Then a group of 6 riders slipped off the front. Still relatively early in the race, as I was climbing one of the bigger climbs, I decided to take off my leg warmers ... of course, while I was riding at the back of the group another group of 9 riders pushed themselves off into a chase group. (I always know it's my first race of the year when I make all sorts of rookie mistakes!) Knowing that the race was up the road I decided that I needed to bridge across and get myself back into the race.
I found my opportunity to bridge when there was a big talewind with two consecutive, long climbs. Myself and two pros pushed it in the talewind and took some serious momentum and speed into the climbs and separated ourselves from the bunch. We brought the 1 1/2 minute gap down to about 30 seconds just in a few minutes. The three of us saw that the two groups ahead of us had joined to form one big group. We quickly joined up with them to make a big group of 20. I guess the other guys didn't like the new mix after we joined because as soon as we caught them, they sat up. It took a few miles of us riding very easy for the field to catch us. When the field caught us there were only a total of about 75 riders left ... about 3/4 of the origin field.
There weren't any more moves until about 20 miles to go when 2 guys just noodled off the front. Then another 2 guys noodled off the front to form a chase group. Then the same two pros I'd made the bridge with earlier, myself, and another rider attacked and got away forming a 2nd chase group. Our group caught and left behind the first chase group so that we were the new chase group out on the road, fighting for 3rd-6th. On the last big climb with 7 miles to go one of the guys in my group attacked. We all reacted but there was a limit to my reaction ... and I got popped. I was able to stay close once we got over the top of the climb but I was never able to catch back on. With a flat/downhill the rest of the way to the finish I was able to hold off the field and finish in 6th.
Overall it was cold, hard, and way too early to be racing ... but good to see where I'm at. I'm looking forward to seeing everone this weekend at the Indoor TT!

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