California has been absolutely phenomenal so far. With a pretty successful spring series season I had high hopes of finishing the 2016 Redlands Bicycle Classic. My fitness was all there and things were looking good. Unfortunately the last spring series for me was a long rainy day, which ultimately led to me being off the bike for 11 days with a cold.
I definitely felt that my fitness had taken a bit of a hit. The first day of riding was awesome, it was my first ever time in California and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat soaking up the sun. After completing the first stage of Redlands and making the time cut, I was hopeful for stage two. I was told it was a race of attrition and it was.
With six laps of fast descents and what felt like endless long uphill drags, I knew the goal would be to make it through to the last circuit so I could climb the uphill finish comfortably inside the time limit. Lap one was for sure the fastest of them all. I was holding on to the wheel in front of me like a bull dog with a chew toy. After making it over the climb I thought to myself "if every climb is like this, I'm going to need to position myself closer to the front". The next four laps I was climbing comfortably with the group. At one point I did find myself chasing back on to the pack with a few other riders through the caravan which was a new experience. Thankfully it was made easier with my Easton EC90 aero Race wheels!
The second to last climb I was close to the back but had my teammate Dylan Davies come up behind me and gave me some encouragement by yelling "come on Christian, you got this!" I was on the rivet but I made it over. I knew the next climb was the most important to make time cut for myself.
Unfortunately after 120km of pro racing in my legs it had taken its toll and I popped with only meters to go to the top of the climb. I looked around for fellow racers to work with to chase back on, but I was alone. I didn't quit and gave it my all and rode the last lap alone to hopefully make the time cut. I was close, but when I finished the final mountain top finish properly cracked and emptied I fell eight minutes short of the time cut. It's always disappointing initially but one thing I've learned racing bikes is that there are always more races, and what does not kill you makes you stronger! I will learn.