It was already approaching 90 degrees at 9:45 AM as one of the largest 45+ fields of the season lined up to contest the Denver Federal Center circuit race on the serpentine course through the Denver Federal Center campus. Bill joined his "youthful" teammates Mike and Joe to fly the Subway/Peerless colors in the Peloton.
Great Divide and Vitamin Cottage brought numbers to the game, fielding close to ten riders each. The stage appeared to be set for a slugfest, but Great Divide has demonstrated superior horsepower lately, so the Blue team strategy focused on shadowing their danger men, Karl Kiester and Jim Dickerson.
The first lap and a half were surprisingly quiet, and then Kiester launched the fireworks with an attack after the start/finish line, and a small group got off the front, with Mike and Bill in attendance. Joe sat on the riders at the front of the field, and when the pace started to slow he started riding tempo at the front, hoping to lull the field into thinking the pursuit was on. However, one rider was far to experienced to fall for that, and she quickly launched across the gap, dragging the field up with her. Yes, she: Jeannie Longo was racing with the 45+ boys (heck, she's old enough!), her world champion stripes prominent on her sleeves.
Kiester tried again on the biggest climb of the course, marked again by Mike and yes, Jeannie. When Jim Dickerson made his bridge move, Joe dug his hooks in for the ride, and by the top of the hill the break was rolling away. Kiester and Dickerson poured on the coals, Mike and Joe contributed as well, and then Jeannie started to take pulls that were very impressive (unless you happened to be the one in her negligible draft, then they were demoralizing).
Soon it was the final lap, and the blue boys were waiting for the inevitable hammer to drop. Sure enough, Kiester launched a full-tilt attack that Joe was just able to chase on to, and then one more up the climb that left he and Joe spent, and the five leaders were back together. Mike took over the pacemaking to save Joe's legs for the finish. Dickerson started his patented 1 K to go locomotive move, and then Kiester launched from behind with a final dig into the sharp right turn before the downhill run to the finish.
A crashing sound from behind turned out to be Dickerson going down due to an unfortunate combination of his speed in the corner and Jeannie's line, leaving Kiester and Joe alone at the front. Unable to shake Joe, Kiester sat up and motioned Joe to come by, but Joe was "disinclined to acquiesce to his request" as Captain Barbosa would say. Joe waited until 100 meters to go, then surged past with what little "sprint" his tired legs could muster for the win. Mike followed Jeannie in for 4th, and Bill won the field sprint by a couple of bike lengths for 5th! That's showing the big teams how it's done!