Walburg/Pace Bend Road Races, Texas

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The weather in the midwest has been brutal this winter. It was supposed to be sleeting and 40 degrees this weekend, so we decided to start the season down in Texas with a couple nice 80 mile road races I’d done a couple years ago. Bill Stolte, Brian Jensen and Adam Mills came down with me. Barry and the guys from Team Hotel San Jose were stoked we were coming and helped us out abunch. The racing scene in Texas is super healthy, both road and MTB. The organization seems way ahead of most places I race.

Saturday was Walburg Road Race north of Austin. Three laps of a 24 mile loop. It was in the mid 60’s at 6:30am. And the wind was blowin’. The race started at 8:00am. Way too early for my liking. I was at the car when the field rolled off. Nothing like missing the start of the first race of the season. The race was neutral for the first mile or so. I would of had a problem if that hadn’t been the case.

Bill took off with 2 other guys about 5 seconds after the official race started. The wind picked up. And kept getting stronger all morning. On the first sidewind section, the field started splitting up. Christian House, British National Road Champion from the Navigators Pro Team strung it out. I guessed we’d been warned at the start, I wasn’t at, about crossing the centerline. Anyway, I was bridging up to a group and was drafting some guy a few inches across the centerline and the official on the motorcycle came up and told me to go back to the pack. So, I went back the 200 meters. Right then, a couple more guys jumped and I rode back up to the break. The official told me I was supposed to go back to the follow car behind the pack now. So, I went back. The guy in the car said I needed to drop back 300 meters and then try to chase back on. I did that, but if it would of been going any harder, I would of been toast. I’ve race 1000’s of races in my lifetime. That was the first time I’ve ever received a “timeout” during a race. The official had a thankless job trying to enforce the centerline rule with the wind blowing nearly 40mph.

Anyway,at the start of the 2nd lap, Brian took off alone and bridged up to Bill who had dropped the other two guys. Now it was just those two a minute or so ahead of what was left of the field. At the start of the last lap, Christian House took off up the hill and I went with him. He didn’t know who was in the break even though we could see them. He road me in the gutter for the next 30 minutes or so. Finally, he gave up and 5 more guys caught us. But, by then, Brian and Bill were gone. The sprint was up a big ring climb. I jumped at 200 meters. House and I bumped a few times and he was ahead. Right before the line he eased up and I beat him by a bike throw. Kind of silly on his part. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wasn’t expected. We were all pretty well seized up afterwards from the effort.

Next day, a 6 miles loop in the Texas Hill country. Closed course. Started at 12:30. Much more reasonable time. It seemed alot of guys had skipped Walburg because there were alot of new jerseys around. Brian got away in a group of 6 on the 2nd out of 13 laps. They got up over a minute and kind of stayed there for most of the race. The lead group got smaller and smaller until only Brian and Matt Ankeny from the Mercy Team were left. Bill, Adam and I made every group, but nothing seemed to stay away. I was feeling pretty mediocre the first half the race, but started feeling pretty good the last hour. That was just about the time when everyone else seemed to run out of juice. On the final lap, Bill got off the front with about 6 guys. With a couple miles to go, I jumped up to them and then rode off the front with three others in the last mile. It was all coming back together in the last 300 meters, but it had been going so hard that everyone was spent and I ended up winning the sprint for 3rd. Bill was 6th, which was good.

So, for the weekend, Trek/HRRC took 5 of the 6 podium spots. That was kind of lucky really. We weren’t that much better than these guys. It seems alittle greedy, but that wasn’t really how it was planned. It was a good weekend, weather and racing.

We’re staying down here for a couple more days. It’s supposed to be in the 80’s. It snowed and is in the 30’s in Kansas. There are much worse places to be than Austin in February!!!