Saturday began with the promise of good weather for racing on the northern Great Plains outside the village of Highwood. The first race was a nice, out-and-back 10 mile time trial. My mid 23’ time was good enough for second, but I was about a minute back from the impressive sub-23’ time put up by Lucca Scariano. After lunch, some rain, and a cat nap, the Cat 4/5 field began the 45 mi road race in typical fashion, which means about half us made a wrong turn 100 m into the course. After we all got going the same direction, the race picked up to a moderate pace; however, I was surprised to see that we seemed to be catching the Cat1-3 field. We made a repeat of the time trial course and passed uneventfully back through Highwood. Near midway through the course, there was a severe crash in the pack at speed. Two guys went down in front of me, but fortunately, I had an opening to the right and was able to get around. I looked back just in time to see a lime green jersey adding to the pile of bodies and bikes (turned out to be Jeff C). The attacks began in earnest on the hills after Highwood. Jesses A. and D. along with Blair chased everything down, and the pack was back together again for the second turnaround. Karl Vanderwood from Montana Velo made a move on the first real hill after the turnaround. Jeremy D. was on his wheel so I knew this attack was for real. Luckily, I was up front when Karl made his move and was able to jump quickly. While bridging the gap, I saw Jeremy fall off Karl’s wheel. I caught up shortly after but only held on for a few pedal strokes. After watching Karl pull away, I looked back to find myself with a large break from the pack. So I continued on, weighing my options. I turned around again to see a green jersey making a break from the group. I slowed my pace to let Jesse A. catch then cranked the pace back up with him on my wheel. Once Jesse recovered, we went to work trying to catch Karl. Jesse and I took turns taking pulls and pushing each other up the hills. On the hills we seemed to be making a dent in Carl’s lead, but he remained just out of reach on the flats and downhills. There wasn’t much hiding from the wind that day. 1 km to go Jesse and I made our last push for Carl, but it wasn’t to be and Carl crossed the line followed by myself and Jesse A.
All in all, a good day of racing in north central Montana. Nice weather, beautiful scenery, and a well organized event. Congratulations to the all the NRO winners, and a big thanks to Jesse A. for his help in the last 10 miles.