Will Rader is a 17 year old road, mountain, and cyclocross racer with the Metro Volkswagen Cycling Team while attaining the high marks at Highland Park High School. Fresh off a stellar finish to the 2009 road races season with strong performances at the Tour of Austin, the Texas State Road Race Championships, and the Piney Hills Classic as well as a huge solo win at the Downtown Denton Criterium, he’s marching towards Bend, OR for his first trip to CX nationals. If you’re heading up to Bend for the festivities December 11-13, be sure to say hi to Will and the Durata Training crew who will be hoping for sloppy conditions. Here’s Will’s account of the inaugural Mellow Classic-

“Starting on the very last row at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic wasn’t quite how I pictured having a great race in the big boy field. I new that it was gonna take some monster power to get around 50 other people to get a top 5 result like I really was hoping for, and from the start list thought was the goal i needed to shoot for. I had heard that they were calling people to the line for start placing based on the number plate and not just a free for all for the front row,  the latter of which I was hoping for.

My fears were confirmed as I rolled up to the start finsih and was directed to the last of 10 or so rows. I knew that by the time I got clear of all the traffic and into a rythm the leaders of the race would have at least 3 minutes on me.
As I was still standing trying to get into my peddles the leaders were 200 meters ahead shooting for the single track. Finally starting to roll i powered off the line and started the unfriendly job of moving up like a mad man. I had passed 10 or so people before going into the single track, the first mile was horribly slow because of all the traffic.

Once we started hitting the false flat ups my  6’3 150 pound frame was flying past people left and right, I got a few dirty looks as I was cutting a few passes pretty close, but were absolutely essential to me being able to do well in the race. My brain went into overdrive as I was trying to find lines to pass the other racers and stay up right on the slippery course, the first 2 thirds of the first lap went by as a blur to me. I finally came clear of a big train of guys and saw day light for the first time in the race. I could barely make out 2 figures about 30 second in front of me and about to start the dirt road lined with people. I drilled it and put my head down and focused on catching them by the top of the climb, my heart was about to jump out of my chest sense i had been above 200 beats a minute for the last 5 minutes. I passed Keith at the base of the road and redoubled my efforts and passed David at the top of the climb. I had broken the top 10 ,sitting 8th by the end of the first lap and left awesome.

I set into tempo and try and bring down the 3 min gap between me Matt and Scott. The second lap was really steady as I tried to rest after killing it the first lap. At the end of the second lap I sat 7th and was recouped and ready to kill the last lap after eating and rehydrating. Going through the start finish people were saying i was only 1 minute down on Matt and Scott, 6th and 5th,  I sucked up the pain and got ready for a very fast and painful lap trying to get my podium spot for the race.

I was starting to see Scott on some of the winding climbs when he was 2 or 3 turns ahead of me. I bombed a down hill and going up the other side of the hill I cut my rear tire;it was flat in 5 seconds. I jumped off my bike and tried to get the cut to seal but it was a lost cause after 2 quick fills and injecting stans into the tubular. Having my goal in sight and seeing it slip out of my fingers was extremly disapointing… there is alwasy next time.”