The main climb up Mt Hamilton can be broken into 3 steps. I got gapped on the 2nd descent and could not, would not close the gap as it ramped up onthe main climb towards the observatory. Darin was still in the front groupwhich allowed me to sit in on the chasers. The main descent is scary ( Isuck at descending). A guy overcooked a turn right in front of me and goes down. We neutralize to see if he is able to get back on; he does so we pickup speed and resume descending. A few seconds later a tire POPS behind mefollowed by a sickening thud and sound of metal sliding/scraping for several feet. I heard later it was the same guy. I did not see any ambulance come upof go by; Man I really hope he's OK. It sounded bad...

Darin's group is caught after the descent but he is starting to cramp up anddecides to slow down a bit to recover. A touchstone guy ratchets up thetempo and a couple of us try to follow. Ahead we can see another group. Wetry to work together but Touchstone is impatient and eventually attacks usand goes solo to bridge. Our little group totally falls apart. Lots of windin the valley section, I'm stuck in no man's land and losing ground to thegroup ahead. A follow vehicle passes me and yells "another group is about aminute behind!" I sat up and start eating and drinking -- a rolling picnicof Gu, Powerbar drink, Clif bar, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans while cruisingand waiting for the cavalry. A few minutes later a group of 7 including Timand Darin and... ahem... Trudy finally reaches me! YES! We got a pacelinegoing for a while but fell apart on the big rollers. The pace is a lothigher than I was able to do on my own and soon we catch Touchstone then afew others. They all looked pretty cooked and barely able to latch on. Wegot mixed up with a few riders from other categories but everyone hits thefinish sprint as if we're still in the money. I really had no idea how manywere ahead of us. I stayed long enough to see results posted. I ended up16th, Darin 18th and Tim 20th. No top 10s but not bad for flatlanders!


I rode it 15 minutes faster than last year when I got 54th. Huge moralvictory! I'm really happy not only for the very real improvement but also inthe sense that I am actually racing instead of simply riding it out.


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