It was a beautiful day and I had a solid cheering section of friends, family and teammates on hand. Unfortunately I did not manage to perform up to my expectations. My lack of nerve in this race was directly proportional to my lack of races for the year. It took a few laps to drop the jitters and find a comfort level. However, the significant amount of breaking, bunching of the group, and some uncharacteristically sketchy riding did not put me into an aggressive mood. In reality it should have done the opposite. I did manage to move up on the long homestretch pretty easily, but I lost all the temporary gains while taking conservative lines and braking too much. The strong winds did not seem to give people, myself included, much desire to jump up front and stretch things out…….which is what we really needed.

With about 5 to go I found myself near the front at turn 1 with a chase group about 30 meters ahead. The winning break of 4 was already up the road. I managed to help drag the pack up to the chasers but unfortunately that was the end to our single file racing. We immediately slowed, bunched and I watched the massive surge blow by me on the left. Within a lap I was trying to avoid the lantern rouge. After watching another guy nearly get taken out by a silly maneuver 43 places from the front, I was convinced that a clean finish is what I desired most. I did manage to move up again on the last 2 laps, but I patiently waited way too long for a safe sprinting lane to open up….. which happened to be with only 100 m to the finish. I finished solidly in the heart of the pack (40th of 73) with all bones intact and skin remaining. The highlights of the day were a crashless race and seeing so many Spidermonkeys out racing and enjoying the festivities.

Bryan Merrill