Joe Dickerson and I arrived at William Land Park in Sacramento on Saturday for our first race of the 2013 season and first race in the Marc Pro-Strava colors. Former Marc Pro-Strava rider, Chuck Hutcheson, who turned NorCal into "Chuck-istan" last year by winning almost every race in sight, generously provided some old kits for us. When I put on the kit, I was immediately too stoked to care that there was a hole near the crotch of the bib shorts that Chuck had closed up with a safety pin. When I started racing my bike, the Marc Pro-Strava guys were untouchable, and there I was donning the kit - I was happy to have come such a long way and honored to be a part of the team - even if there was a hole in my shorts.
I went to the nearest gas station and bought a six pack of Cokes to get cashback for registration. The plan was to have Joe ride intelligently and stay protected in order to focus on the bunch sprint, if the race came to that. I was just going to ride aggressively.
The race started and immediately I jumped the main group to bridge up to another attacker. To anyone who loves racing, you know how exciting the first attack of the season is after riding loads of hours at tempo pace and doing long base rides.
Compared to last year's Cal-Aggie Crit, breakaways were only marginally more successful. Instead of 15 second breaks, if you can call that a breakaway, they would last 4-6 minutes. The best gap I pulled out was when I counterattacked a breakaway from within the breakaway... 5 minutes off the front?
Mike's Bikes trotted out the inevitable leadout for James Laberge. While everyone expected the pace to rise to a blistering level, the race remained 3 riders abreast most of the way through the final lap. The bunch sprint did not have very much structure without a fast leadout and Joe did his best to find an ideal wheel to follow in the sprint. He ended up 7th or so.
With a handful of pros and constant attacking, Joe and my first low-key race to shed the winter rust was really like being sandblasted and then dowsed with WD-40 instead. 2013 is going to be an amazing year of racing in NorCal, we are all extremely excited and ready to get some big results.
Author and team member CHRIS HARLAND-DUNAWAY can be found online at onenightin1896.com, on Twitter @ ChrisHDeee, breaking records on STRAVA and racing via USA Cycling license #332190.