Although it was seemingly just another Wednesday Night Worlds, Jordan Ross opened up a strong attack and gutter-balled the pace line in a 25mph crosswind. This was different. We were normally not so aggressive in our weekly group ride. The force of Jordan's attack snapped the pace line into thirds. I was in the first chase group with Mark Savery and Shim. We bridged up to Jordan, and as soon as we did, Paul Webb countered with a big jump off the front. I sat on while the others chased. Paul dangled out there for 90 seconds before he was brought back. It was my turn. As soon as we were all together, I punched it with all I had. I got away easily, quickly opening up a 50m gap. When I looked back, I saw Jonathan Wait attempting to close it down while pulling Jordan in tow. I mashed away some more. Jordan then jumped Jonathan and bridged up to me. We were both free and clear, and from there, we rotated pulls until we crossed the town sprint sign, two-by-two.
Shim wheeled up next to me a few moments later and asked, "How do you like road racing now?"
Then, with clarity he said, "You should join us next year."
I nodded in agreement, but I wasn't so sure. At that time, road racing seemed so distant to me. Back then, I was deep into training for USAT Triathlon Age Group Nationals. Aside from a plea to join them in Tulsa, it was too vague for me to latch on to.
A lot has changed since that coffee break. The biggest of these was when I was invited to join the Harvest Racing Team. Unbeknownst to me, Shim went to bat for my inclusion with the team while it was still forming. He did this despite me being a triathlete and a cat 3/Masters road racer with only a mild interest in road racing.
That I was a triathlete wasn't that big of deal, other than the fact that most road racers think triathletes are dorks. But the latter -- that I am a cat 3/Masters racer -- meant that I would only be able to contribute to team efforts in combined pro 1-2-3 category races, or when the team's other old farts opted to do Master races. But since Harvest is an elite team, combined-field races and Masters events would be a secondary priority.
Anyway, despite being a dorky cat-3 triathlete, the team still took me in.
Since then, I've put in over 2,600 training miles on my road bike, and I've contributed to team podiums in our first three races.
More importantly, my motivation has shifted. Having tasted both success and failures, I've found myself becoming a hungry student of road racing. My individual priorities have been replaced with the mindset of a roadie who is a component of fantastic team with firm road racing goals.
In short, I'm all in.
Of course I wasn't thinking of any of this when Shim asked me how I liked road racing this past Wednesday. No, my eyes were still scanning the tarmac, replaying how my teammates and I had just executed flawless road racing tactics to win a town sign sprint moments before.
It is exhilarating. And I told him so.
Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.
Follow Harvest Racing race recaps and other team shenanigans on our new website at HarvestRacing.com.