by Greg O'Neil
Swarms of flies, the stench of decaying brine shrimp, buffalo pies on the road, hail, rain, and lightning were all absent from Saturday’s Antelope Island Classic. The Men’s 35+ B flight race was a little short by club standards (only 49 miles), but when a reminder popped up on Facebook about the race this weekend and I realized there were no work/family commitments Saturday I decided to give it a go. The forecast was a little iffy, and got worse the night before, but fortunately the rain, hail, and torrents of foul weather held off until the afternoon.
Having done this same race last year I knew what to expect and wasn’t worried about showing up early. But it never pays to be late. While pinning the numbers to the jersey I could hear in the distance “wha wha.. 5+ on deck”. Crap. Did a quick inventory, chose to leave the spare wheels behind and sprinted across the gravel/mud lot to find they were only calling the 55+ riders. By the time I arrived the 55+ were about to start and they were calling the Men’s 35+ to line up. Riding or running back to the car to grab wheels made little sense at this point and I spent the last few minutes struggling to get the muddy gravel out of my cleats.
The first 20 miles were an out and back across the causeway. It provided a nice warm up. A rider in a Bike Accident Attorney’s kit flatted next to me on the sharp gravel on the south side of the road as we headed east toward the entrance gate. Mental note; no tube, no CO2, no spare wheels, must avoid gravel. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.
With 40+ riders in our flight and a relatively flat windswept course there was little chance for anyone to break away. A couple of riders pulled 150 years ahead as we began making lapping the North end of the island, but that was short-lived. The 35+ B flights are notoriously disorganized, so despite the strong turnouts by Zone 5 Racing and America’s First Credit Union, most of the race was more like a large group ride. It wasn’t until we made the u-turn at the south end of the island that the pace began to quicken. But even then it was a matter of fits and spurts untilthe final 1000M.
Last year I made the mistake of pulling hard for most of the last 5 miles and had little left in the tank for the finishing sprint. With the benefit of experience, I sat in the back of the pack this year until those last 1000M.
The final stretch is a long gradual climb to the finish that begins to level off in the last 200M. Passing the 200M sign, I began to accelerate and close quickly on the last 2 racers. They had started their kick early and managed to hold on just long enough to secure their spots on the podium.
Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/568742010