John Juras and his crew did a great job putting on the 2009 Belt Omnium. Subway sandwiches and beer were included in the $30 entry fee. $30 for two races, beer, $5 foot long, giant cookies, and great organization. Thank you John.
The time trial course was flat. Just before the turnaround there was a 300 foot rise that was very typical of any central/eastern Montana roller. It was tail wind on the way out and head wind on the way back. Aero equipment was key. Highlights of the Time Trial:
*TAMERA: T laid down a 23:5ish. Since folks don't know the significance of that time I'll put in perspective. I don't know the exact times but she would have placed 5th or 6th in the men's cat 3's.
*RIDE CLEAN DAN: The AZ transplant didn't disappoint in his Montana debut. He slayed the time trial. He won and I think put a minute into second.
The road race course was much hillier then I expected. On the drive in Nacho Tack kept showing me these hills that were part of the course. I tried to store each climb in my head. I decided that there were 3 on the way out and 2 on the way in. The 1,2,3 race started off slow. Riders were taking off clothes and chatting. On the first out and back, the cat 4 group was getting close to catching us. Jeff Twohig and a rider from GNC formed the first break of the day. They held 30 seconds for 10 or so miles.
Climb #1: This was the slowest climb of the day. Frykman led into it. I could see the top the whole time and wasn't super worried about anything getting away. I was breathing hard, but still felt like everyone was warming up.
Climb #2: Groupo compacto. Frank lit up the climb with a couple hard accelerations towards the middle. My legs were stinging bad. I remember looking at Twohig and thinking...he was just on a breakaway and seems to be climbing fine...I'm hurting...this could be long day.
In between climb #2 and #3 there was long flat stretch. Into the flat crosswind section I tried to stay up front because it was guttered for 5-8 miles. It was better to be on the front then in the back. GAS, had the same strategy as Curry and Brian worked with Josh and I.
Climb #3: Nacho Tack led into the climb. I was really worried about attacks so I didn't come around him, in fear that I'd go to quickly into the red. I was happy that folks didn't start moving around Josh until the last 1/3. I suffered hard on the last 1/3 of the climb and was really excited to get over the top. Freightrain led the descent.
This was the first time I started to notice the group was dwindling. None of the strongmen had showed any signs of weakness leading into climb #4.
Climb #4: Frykman stormed up the first pitch like he was Jens Voigt leading Sastre in the Tour last year. Halfway up Marshall took over and set a tempo that was right at my limit. 20 more seconds at that pace, or a smidge faster and I would have been off that back. I'm sure you've been in that position where your climbing cross-eyed and your just praying that no one else attacks.
Back onto the flat the pace slowed. I was very happy to be in the group (Curry, Brad, Frykman, Herzig, Frank, Dan, Trek V, Tack, Willy, Marshall). Tack attacked hard two times in a row. I knew there would be a counter from someone as soon as Josh was caught. With the group that was left....it was sure to be someone fast. Sure enough Brad launched and I jumped on his wheel. Oh crap....last time I was in a break with Brad was very short lived. Last year's Bearmouth race, Brad completely road me off his wheel. So, I decided to sit in while we gained an advantage over the group, in fear that I'd completely blow up and fall out of all the groups on the road. After I relaxed a bit....I realized Brad was creating a big gap. Without GAS or Tack chasing, there wasn't enough cohesion to bring Brad back. A bunch of thoughts kept creeping into my head. I could still see the group over the horizon and figured that with Scott, Dan, and Marshall still there....the pace up the last climb would be super fast. I didn't like our chances. So, I continued to sit in a try and save something for the last climb. My goal at this point was to try and stay away as long as possible to keep Tack off the front.
Climb #5: My legs start cramping. Brad starts groaning.....I think to myself yes he's getting tired. Brad speaks, "Shaun, I don't think I can take you to the finish line." Sounds good to me, we'll get caught and my job will be done. I knew that Brad was tough, but I'd never experienced it with him on the road.. Holy crap this guy is ridiculous. I sat on his wheel for 10 miles and now he's going to drop me?!!? The answer is yes. The gap slowly opened. I tried to calm down but I could see Herzig lighting the road on fire behind me. I thought about trail. I thought about my Motebacane 29er. I thought about the week before trying to chase Dale down on Snowbowl Overlook. I shifted down into my 39x18 and turned the gear over like my single speed. I got to the top just as Herzig caught me. He had Dan, Marshall, Tack, and Curry with him. Brad was gone. Josh said something to me and I thought he was mad (that's how tired I was...Tack never gets mad). What he actually said was just sit in. For a mile or two I was really happy. Then I realized the goal was to win the F-ing race. Tack still had a shot and Brad was still up the road. I attempted some weak pulls, but Brad had timed it to perfection. Kudos to Nails. Tack won the sprint for second.
For a better race report read Melanie Melendrez's report about racing for the first time.