This year’s running of Mt Hamilton Road Race would play out a lot differently than last year’s field sprint. We rolled out of the neutral start shivering and wet. Marc Pro – Strava had a full contingent of riders as well as the other local norcal team’s (Mike’s Bikes, Cal Giant etc). MPS had a plan to get as many of our strong riders over the top with a smaller selection than last year. Kirk Carlson (Predator Cycling) and Adrian Costa (Garmin Developmental) would be the animators of this 18 mile 4500′ climb. The climb was full gas from go. Strung out and gaps opening. Towards the top of the first section of the climb things mellowed a bit and the group came back together. Costa attacked on the 2nd section of the climb and had a small gap but was being marshaled by Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro Strava) and Stefano Barberi (Cal Giant). The final and most sustained section of the climb was the deciding factor for the rest of the race. Once Costa was reeled in, Carlson attacked. Sam Bassetti (Cal Giant) hung between Carlson and a selection containing Costa, Jack Maddux (Specialized), Sean Rosenthal (Mike’s), Art Rand, Taylor Bertrand-Barrett and myself (all MPS) were within 30 seconds over the KOM. This was ideal, we had three guys in a small selection as planned. Then came the descent!!
The descent off the backside of Hamilton is more feared than the climb itself, and I am not a fan. I can handle the fast swooping turns, but this is a different beast. Unfortunately Rosenthal and Costa bridged the gap to Carlson and Bassetti, throwing caution out the window. Taylor lost his rear end a few times and was unable to hang, and I kept a steady pace knowing I would have to chase when we hit the bottom. When we hit the bottom it was Art, myself and Jack Maddux wedged in-between the lead group of 4 and a chasing group of about 10-15. We were given 30 second time gaps in both directions so I immediately took up the pace and started barking orders to work. Unfortunately I was with two climbers, weighing the combined weight of my right quad and a whole lot of head wind to contend with. The next 30 miles was torture as we had the leaders insight. I just remember Carlson looking back from time to time and upping the pace (explicit). We hit the second main climb of the race and Bassetti got dropped off the lead group, and Art and I continued to dangle. Art set a good pace up the climb and once over I recommitted myself to the three hour time trial.
We finally caught the lead group of 3 with about 10 miles to race. Ideal situation, 2 out of 5…one problem, I was smoked!! Our group immediately started attacking each other and pretty much did until the finish. It was not an ideal situation to attack since it was a solid head wind, so I just tried to keep the group moving forward. Every time I would make pace, Costa would attack (explicit). It came to the last 1k when Art threw a solid attack, but was quickly covered. Costa then took a turn and I was caught in front chasing. From there Carlson attacked with Rosenthal in tow and I just tried to match it. I was blown and couldn’t contend the sprint, which Rosenthal just edged Carlson. I took up 3rd, Costa 4 and Art 5. The main group of chasers finished close behind, containing Harland-Dunaway and Taylor.