Even climbers can win a Bear Jersey
By nature, I am a climber and had largely given up on the idea of winning a bear jersey at the SCNCA District Road Race Champioship in Bakersfield because the course has only relatively short climbs and the sprinters/power climbers tend to win on the last 600 yard power climb. For two years in a row, I was in the lead on that little power climb and finished 4th and 3rd behind the power climber/sprinters in my 60+ age division.
With some key advice from my coach (Ron Peterson), it became clear that I needed to break from the crowd at some point this year. So about 1/3 of the way up the first climb on the second of two laps with about 17 miles to go, I hit it hard. I looked back after 10 seconds and saw no one responding so I hit it again and continued to accelerate. I got several hundred yards on the crowd over the top of the climb. One guy made a run at me before the turnaround, which was fortunate, because we agreed to work together. Really worked well as we held about a quarter mile lead until just before the final power climb when 3 or 4 of the sprinter types had closed the gap to 20 seconds or so.
On that last climb I let the other guy with me take the lead, and he attacked about 3/4 of the way up that climb. I was able to stay in contact and then as the climb started to flatten I countered and he did not respond. I won by 5 seconds with the sprinters 10 seconds or so late and a dollar short. We had just enough distance on them to prevent them from making their usual run up that clmb. Lesson learned. When I broke from the pack, I was nervous because I didn't want to go our like that and then die. A little like jumping off a cliff with a bungee cord. You think it will be fine but terrifying nonetheless. Felt pretty good though when I looked back and saw no one.
Podium Shot below