I sat at the Continental breakfast sipping on my apple juice, chewing on my frosted flakes. And then in sync, as we both remembered, Joe looks as me and says “Dude, Happy Birthday.” And at the same time I said “Whoa, It’s my birthday.”
The morning for stage four was not a pleasant one. I was dead tired and not in the mood for racing, especially not in the rain. Happy birthday.
This morning’s course was a lollipop. We would ride out ten miles, do eight loops out on the course and then head back for a sprint finish about halfway back to the start. The field was about the same size as yesterday morning’s. Most of the riders had come out for just a couple of the races or even one. The guys contending for the overall were out for their fourth race with less than stellar legs.
The field cruised out to the circuit and we quickly learned the hills, turns, and fast descents. Guys were attacking off the front but just like yesterday evening, only a solo break toward then end of the race would succeed. The roads dried around lap five and we were happy to see some sunshine for the sprint finish to come.
Heading back toward the finish line I was moving up in the field too slowly and got caught being a little too patient at the 5k to go mark. I had been taking my time to get up at the front of the race and now I was getting caught out of the action at the front. Finally however I made it up to fifth wheel with 1k to go. Sadly however with my focus concentrated on moving up in the pack I neglected to notice that the guy whose wheel I sat on had made a monster pull at the front and was getting ready to blow up as we raced into the finishing stretch. He sat up with just 500 meters to go and pulled me rocketing towards the back of the pack.
I had two choices, play it safe and not score any points for this race, or bunny hop into the deep grass and take my chances to minimize my losses. I took the obvious choice.
Immediately when I jumped off the road into the grass I felt the sticky, slow, rough ground almost like riding on a field of molasses. But even with the added resistance I passed the guy still gently rolling to the finish, hopped back on the road and salvaged a 12th place finish.