Finally recovered from being sick so hope for better results than last year where I got dropped the first time up a big hill. Try something different to address the cramping issues, no caffeine in the water bottles, start with two full bottles and just shorts and jersey and underjersey and arm warmers to minimize overheating.
I settle in at the back as we go at a brisk pace down Bear Creek Road and do the turn onto the hilly back roads. What strikes me is how hard we go up the little hills, which is something I would not do at my own pace. But we do not drop anybody AFAIK and get to the base of the first big hill and then it gets a little hard. When I look down at my powermeter I know I can't sustain this for long but figure I should do whatever I can do to hang onto the group. Surprisingly, I do. Mindful of prior cramping episodes I take the opportunity to stretch on every downhill and pause even when going uphill to stretch the legs.
The finish hill is a little too much for me, but at this point I have a lot of company including teammate Mike Simos, so we work together to try and catch the main pack. Luckily for us, the pack is taking it easy on Bear Creek Road and we have time to rest a little. I am able to hang in the group until we get to the Momma bear for a second trip and I can only last two minutes when I blow a gasket and have to ease up. Keep pedaling and eventually reel in a few riders by the finish hill. Flandria and Denin are graciously spending the morning feeding us so I take another water bottle and now have two full bottles with a lap to go. My legs muscles are starting to move by themselves so I use someones advice to pour cold liquid on them in attempt to stave off cramps, the negative impact being that the liquid is PowerAde so my legs are sticky but on the positive side I can always lick my legs if I need more energy. On the descent we see the remnants of an accident with one guy balled up on the side of the road being attended to by a volunteer, that takes away some motivation right there, I can see the pack ahead but it's hard to get that image out of your head. One of our teammates was in the accident but was not hurt much at all but his bike and fork took one for the team.
Am able to help the chase on Bear Creek Road but as soon as we go up the first steep little hill I shoot out the back, my legs saying no mas.
Finish the race a little bit behind my companions in the chase group.
My time was more than ten minutes faster than last year, and I lasted 1.6 laps instead of .6 laps so those are pretty nice improvements, the power numbers are almost equivalent so not sure if the race was that much different this year, rider+bike about five pounds lighter than last year at the same time.
It felt really good to not be cramping in every leg muscle compared to Wente or this race last year.