Since I joined the team at January's team meeting, the buzz word around meetings and coaching sessions has been Hillsboro. Everyone who had competed in it previously had great stories to tell about the course and their overall race experience. Being completely new to the team and bike racing in general, I had never heard of it. I made it an immediate goal to get myself ready to be at least able to ride competitively the race.
In the days before the race, I was feeling pretty strong and well rested. I was hoping to have a good day and maybe end up in the top 10 if everything went right. I was a little concerned heading into the race as I only got a few hours of sleep the night before due to excitement, tension, nerves, or Erik D mumbling non sense that I shouldn't repeat here in his sleep.
Once the race started, it moved at a fast but comfortable pace. There was a pretty early one man break and nobody attacked. He was later joined by another rider. As the race wore on, I kept myself positioned at the front of the chase which was growing smaller by the mile. I eventually made a break with about 6 or 7 miles left to try and bridge the gap. I never caught up to the 2 who broke, and only one other rider (Matthew Nichols of Project 5 Racing - who I later learned was MAYBE 16 years old at best) made the push with me. We worked together pretty well. Once we hit the big climbs toward then end, I thought I was toast. My lungs and my legs were screaming. After the 2nd climb (before the big decent) I took the corner way wide and actually almost ran into the white house on the corner. I had to get back on the course from their driveway! At this point I thought I just gave away the podium. I kept my composure down the hill and over the brick. I got back on the other rider's wheel at the final turn and with about 200M to go, I hit the gas as hard as I could. Ended up taking 3rd by about 1 1/2 bike lengths. WOW. I'm on the podium in my first road race. Completely unexpected. I'm still a state of shock and bliss. The trophy (which is awesome) is my first since who knows when.. maybe elementary school 3rd place at state basketball tourney? The 1/2 riders - Erik Wiebe (no team) and Joel Freidman (Bicycle Heaven) on the break were killer. They finished comfortably 39 seconds ahead of me.
What a great experience. Amazing course and great ride. Props to everyone who shared advice on the forum, meetings, and conversation. I felt like I had a plan without having to ride the course. Here's to 44 miles at Cat 4 next year and picking up some more hardware this year!