We’re now more than 2.5 hours into the race. We’ve ridden about 70 miles so far. We’ve got 10 to go. A break of seven riders was just reeled in and I scooted toward the front. We’ve got about two more miles to ride before I plan to launch the attack I’d been plotting, just before the last KOM.
An acquaintance from another NYC-based team slots in to my right. “You got anything left?,” I ask. A second question from me: “Can you keep the pace high and string this out?”
“Not really. I want to see what I can do on the KOM.”
Wait a minute! If he’s thinking what I’m thinking then EVERYONE must be thinking what we’re thinking. I need to go…NOW! Gooo! Hard for 10 or 15 seconds. I shoot a quick look over my left shoulder. The peloton is still ambling along, catching its breath after having caught the break, spread 4-wide across the road. No one flinches.
Immediately a bit of self doubt. The collective judgment of 91 other riders is that your move is doomed, Chip. What are you doing? Where do you get off trying to stick a break from this far out? Stop thinking about that and just GO! Focus! Settle in. Try to peg it at 300w. You can hold that. You’ve done this on the Kickr. C’mon, man!
A yellow 2km to go sign propped on shoulder at the right-hand-side of the road. I must have a gap. It’s quiet. I can hear MY own drive train for the first time all race. Jesus, 2km still before the KOM?! I’m tempted to look at my heart rate, to assess whether this is an effort I can dose all the way to the finish. Don’t look at your heart rate!! It won’t do any good. You’ve got to be ALL IN on this! Focus! C’mon! Curves in the road. Ride the tangents! Squeeze the shortest line possible out of what’s left of the race. C’mon!
1km to go until the KOM. Don’t look back. DO NOT look back! PUSH!!
Slight right onto the last 100m before the top. Through the feed zone now. Just a few supporters still line the road. Don’t look! Don’t make eye contact! FOCUS!! Keep going. You’ve got to be the first one into the downhill. C’mon!! THE BREAK STARTS NOW!!
Right side or left? I took the left side on the first three laps. I know where the big gash in the road is. Maybe I should try the shorter line on the right this time? Don’t be an idiot! Stick with what you know! Left! Stay left! There goes the gaping pothole. Carry max speed through this sweeping right hander at the base of the hill. Just feather the brakes – that’s all! Sweep wide. Now, on the gas. ON THE GAS!!!
I’m onto the straight road with about 7km remaining. I take a quick look over my right shoulder. No one. I don’t see anyone on the descent. Holy shit! I must have a real gap! GO!! GO!! Hold the watts. Don’t fade. Keep pushing. C’mon. Don’t look back. Whatever you do don’t look back.
I’m very familiar with this rise in the road. Just get over this rise. C’mon! PUSH!! It’ll start to flatting and the downhill will start soon. Just get over this one and one more. And then you’re home free.
5km to go sign. One-half a lap of Central Park. That’s it. One-half a lap. PUSH!!!
I’ve never gone this hard in my life. This hurts so much. Jesus, just catch me. Just let this be over. NO! C’mon!! C’mon!!
Almost there. 3km now.
Just get to 1km to go and it’s all down-hill from there. You can hit 35-40mph. C’mon! They can’t make up ground at that speed. PUSH!!!!! Stay LOW. In the drops. Elbows in. Efficiency, efficiency. Pull up on the pedals. C’MON, MAN!!!!
Flying now, past 1km to go. Roadside banners up ahead, marking 500m. Finally, a look over the left shoulder. No one. There’s NO ONE!!!
What do I do? How do I post up? I’ve never thought about this! Arms up! Over the line. Holy shit, I won the goddamned stage!!!