Last weekend I decided to travel to the Fouche Gap road race in Rome, Georgia. My friend and riding buddy Cameron Molchan told me about the race the week before and I thought it would be a good way to check on my form before the first big objective of the season at Redlands.
Originally I planned to travel with Cameron, but he had to leave for the race on Saturday morning at 4:30 am, so I thought I would do better if I went down on Friday night and stayed in a hotel so I could get a full night’s sleep and a good breakfast. My mom agreed to go with me to drive and handle the feed zone.
We expected a little rain on the drive down, but a massive thunderstorm moved in and brought heavy rains. The conditions were so bad we had to pull off the road into the shoulder three or four times. The drive was slow and nerve-wracking, but eventually we made it to the hotel and got some sleep.
We had a quick drive to the race in the morning and got ready. I was really cold in the parking lot because we were in the shad so I did my best to stay warm and kept my jacket on until the last second. I chose to wear my Giro Air Attack helmet because there was a lot of wind and I thought the aerodynamic advantage would be extra potent.
With the race underway I had a strategy that I would try to make the breakaway, or if I didn’t to be within about a minute of the leaders at the base of the final one mile uphill climb to the finish. I tried a few times to make the break but I was chased down each time and with the wind being so strong I reevaluated and decided being shielded from the wind in the pack might be a better option for me. A break of three went and never got too far, though for a while they were almost out of sight and I got very nervous we wouldn’t bring them back.
Fortunately, the teams without representation in the break did a lot of work on the last lap to bring the gap down and after a strong chase we came into the base of the climb about 30 seconds down (I checked Strava times afterwards). Then I tried to balance between going fast enough to catch the break and not too quick that I would blow up and make myself vulnerable to a counter attack. I had to trust that the guys drafting me would crack and also work to catch the lone survivor of the breakaway. I tried to get the guys behind me to share the pacemaking but they didn’t want to. One of them tried to jump me close to the finish but fizzled out before he got around me. Right after this I could see the 200 meters to go sign and the leader, so I stayed in the saddle and pedaled at a fast cadence to come through and take the lead. I won by just a few seconds so it was a tight race.
I had a plan for the race and was able to execute it so I was satisfied with my performance. The event was run very professionally and I would recommend it to anyone.