I didn't want to be one of those people that upgraded from a 4 to a 3 without having ever felt what a win feels like and once I became a 3 I didn't just want to sit around in the Cat 3 races content at just having upgraded. I felt and still feel like I can be competitive in the 3's. I think I've said before most of the guys that are 3's I've ridden with before anyways, so it's not like they're a whole new group of people who I've never been around.
Yesterday, I won the 3/4 race at RFK. I definitely had to work for this win which makes it that much more sweet. Most of the guys that are leading in the MABRA bar for the 3's were there and I knew I wanted to have a good showing because I wanted to prove to myself that I could compete in the Cat 3's. I knew this course favored the sprinters and I was excited because it's one of the few races where the final 200M are nice and flat and wide to really just let the legs go. My focus was to just stay out of the wind and to fight for good position in the last 2 laps leading to the finish. Everything went according to plan and since I wasn't really too concerned about people breaking away, I was able to relax and little more and let the race just happen. Coming into the bell lap I had good position and the other bigger teams that were at the front were starting to ramp up the pace. First Steve Anderson from DC Velo came shooting up to the front to drive the pace then I think ABRT came to the front to up the pace, then Bike Rack came up to keep the tempo, but making that turn into the headwind kind of jeopardized my positioning because we were starting to get swarmed at the front as people were moving up the outside. As we approached the final turn, I could see Stephen Wahl was in front of me. I've seen and heard about this guy. He's good and he wins and that's all I needed to know to know that I wanted to be on his wheel coming out of the final turn. I got boxed in a little and was worried that when we came out of the finally turn people were going to be in front of me and I wasn't fully going to be able to open up the sprint. Fortunately as we were turning a wonderful little piece of real estate opened up right in front of me and I took it. Just as I was exiting the turn I could see and hear Stephen shifting gears and I knew I had to get on with the sprint. We were starting it early and I wasn't sure if either one of us would hold it all the way to the line. Then I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to pass him. I just kept digging and digging and I think I just nudged past a foot from the line. Sprints like that are always so much fun.
Anyway, now I feel like my upgrade has been validated. There a lot more races to go and a few more that I really want to win. During the off season I sat down with the upcoming race schedule and picked out all my "A" races and "B" races, like training books tell you to do. I was gonna be a good boy and follow all these strict plans to be really competitive so I could win all my "A" races. But when it really comes down to it, I'm way too competitive to even have that attitude and categorize every race as A or B. When I register for the race, I want to win it and it automatically becomes an A race. That's the bottom line for me. The only thing that changes for me from winning at Tradezone to winning at RFK is how happy I am afterwards. But in both races I'm going to ride just as hard. Fortunately, I don't have the most organized team right now and since we never really talk about who we're racing for and what we want to do as a team, I know when I take the line I can just try to win.