Another hot day of racing for more than an hour and a half. This was going to be the hardest race for me this year. Grand Rapids has always been nice to race at the last 3 out of 4 years that I have been able to race there. The course was a little different than two years ago. I really enjoyed the course this year. I knew that my legs felt great before the start, even after sitting in the car for more than five and a half hours. Our team Cleveland Clinic Sports Health / RGF pb Felt Bicycles had started with 4 riders, Cruise, Alan, Adam, and I. The race started out with attacks only from Bissel Pro team and it didn't stop from start to finish. I stayed at the front of the race all but 10 laps when I burnt too many matches staying in the top 10 for 20 mins. I took a chance and played tail gunner at the back of the 60 man field for 10 laps until I felt better. I noticed Adam was doing a great job staying up front so that took the pressure off as well. As I moved up front again and made some very hard breaks following wheels I hit a pot hole that should have been filled before the race. Four laps later my tire was flat. Thanks to the Sram support, (team sponsor) I got my new wheel and was back up front. It was too late though as a Bissel rider was solo and no one was chasing. With maybe 20 mins. to go, Kenda Pro team and Flying V pro team riders took off. I followed and all three of us worked together to get a break from the field. United Health joined us later and we had a Bissel rider messing it up.
During this whole race I saw another side to Pro racers that I don't care to see. Some of the Pro racers were trying to wreck others on purpose. They looked like they were biting others ears off as they were yelling at each other. I guess I never thought about it but man this is their job and they want to win so they can get sponsors for next year. I really didn't care for Bissel racing the way they did. Bissel had a guy jump away before the turns and the teammates would sprint to the next turn and slam on their brakes to try and wreck everyone behind them. This also happened when I jumped on a Kenda pro riders wheel and it was a good thing I was looking forward when he did this to me or I would have taken is rear derailer off. He wanted me to pull through and I didn't want to at that time so when he slammed his brakes I went flying by. This kind of racing doesn't make it fun and it is very childish and arrogant. Praise God no one was seriously hurt this time.
Back to the break that almost lasted to the end. The field was close to us maybe 10 seconds with a gap to the solo Bissel leader and from the field. So United Health rider jumped and I jumped passed him wanting him to grab my wheel as we had a small gap. We would have caught the solo rider but who knows what would have happend after that. I wish I would have tried to join the solo rider but I don't know if I would have caught him. That was the last attack of the day. All I had to do was hang on till the end and just maybe a top ten liked I had hoped for before the race started. I knew I spent to much time working the last break and as the last 3 laps were coming to an end our group now had over 15 riders as they came from the field. Kenda led out the last 2 laps before the final lap. As we went by the start finish line we flew up the brick section up the false flat. My eyes were on United Health Pro as they took the first two left turns at the fastest speeds of the day. We took the quick right turn and left turn next as I got put back a couple of places before another brick section. As we took the last 2 left hand turns I was keeping pace with the lead out train but could not pass but one Bissel rider in the end for 9th place. I know it would have been a better result if our full team was at the race today. I look forward to racing with the whole team in the next few months. My Zipps and Felt bike worked perfectly as it crossed the bricks today. Also Hammer gave me some more great products to help get in the top ten against the best U.S. Pro Crit Racers. Look forward to a better result in the future. Thank you Lord again for our safety and health to do this sport that we love.