Race Report: Koppenberg P1-2
Koppenberg. This is probably my favorite race of the year. It's short, punchy, and positioning is key in the dirt section particularly headed into the hill on the first lap. Our plan was to be near the front headed up the hill on the first 2 laps, take inventory over who was still in the mix and develop a plan from there. I started in the 2nd row and had a decent start. I battled to hold my position, maintaining top 20 wheels for the first dirt section. Just before the first climb, Drew moved up on the inside. I followed his wheel into the top 10 or so just before the hill. The hill was in great shape but the dirt was super hard. My rear wheel kept on slipping and I had trouble maintaining my speed up the hill. I was forced to sit down to get traction and I was able to get back up to speed and power up the climb. Once we crested the climb, it was go time. I had lost a few positions on the climb and there was a split in the field just behind me. The pace was balls out and strung out single file with gaps opening until we got to the paved section just before the right turn onto Marshall road. At the end of the first lap, the field was already whittled down to 40 or so guys. I was able to position myself well going into the dirt section headed into the 2nd lap. There was a breakaway up the road, and several bridge attempts which kept the pace high on the first section of the dirt and I continued to fight to stay near the front. The effort became too much and I blew up. I blew up so hard I put my hand up and stopped pedaling as if I had a flat. I got spit out the back immediately where there was a slew of other guys battling to catch back onto the tail end of the field. Rob from Rio encouraged me to get on his wheel as he went by. I couldn't quite latch on, but I could see that the field ahead had slowed and were now sitting 5 wide. I put in an effort to close the gap and was able to re-attach with the field just before the climb. Lucas was looking strong and comfortable in this group. I started up the climb but had no gas left and frustratingly got left in the dust.
Just before the final turn of the 2nd lap, I saw Lucas off the back of the field. Lucas had a mechanical and could not finish the race. I was super bummed for him as he was looking good and fresh when I saw him just before I got dropped. Damn, bike racing is a B!*@#! The rest of the race, I rode with a small chase group that set an honest pace and worked well together. Every lap we would catch a few riders who had been dropped and loose some riders from our own group. Even though we were off the back, we were still racing, I was on the edge every time up the hill, the heckling and cheering of those watching kept me fighting to reattach with the group after the hill lap after lap. The final lap, there were 5 of us, all of us were working together but one guy who proceeded to attack the group. He finally got away after sitting on for 2 laps and held it to the finish. I decided to race all of the way to the finish and finished first in my small group of 4 dudes netting me a top 20. I was disappointed to be out of the mix so early as this is a good course for me, but I was glad that I continued to race and finish in the top 20 in a super stacked field.