High 50’s, brisk wind, cloudy skies.
6 corner crit. Long headwind backstretch, 3 or 4% incline before the penultimate turn. A few sketchy pieces of pavement but nothing “Delmarvelous”.
40 guys in the cat 3’s give or take.
708 and Momentum Racing kicked things off with the usual suspects of Mike (708) and BJ (Momentum) turning out some hot laps. A racer (named the LJO – will be made clear later) tried an early move which I brought back. A prime was announced and Nick (708), the leader for the day yelled: “It’s yours Mark”, so I felt free to collect $35 when I passed “Go”. I even did a cocky mini salute when I hit the line.
Attacks were tried and chased down and other primes were offered. My legs hadn’t really come around yet (having attempted too many Gilbert impressions the day before) so I was pretty content to sit in. Two crashes happened in front of me during the race. One Dogfish rider went down a few wheels up and I had one of those fun “slow-motion perception events” which fortunately did not end with me hugging pavement. Unfortunately Nick came to a complete stop but Keith paced him back to the front. We’re getting this teamwork stuff sorted!
Nick wanted to win out of a break (like he did in the 2010 cat 4 edition) so about halfway through he took off solo. I followed a bridge (LJO) and finished it off to join Nick and Jason (CBC – and a strong dude) in a nice 4 man group. I immediately went to the front and pulled for a lap to try to get the gap going. When I flicked, the Lindenwood Jerk-O. protested that there were “two of you and one of me” and refused to work. I shared some sailor talk and Jason shook his head (perhaps at both the LJO’s antics with 25 min to race and my indiscretion). As an aside, I’ve never understood why Mark Schwartzendruber gets so upset in his race reports about such jerks when they don’t pull through. I understand now. The jerk’s actions are not just a snub to the work you’ve already shared/invested in the break, but a middle finger to the endeavor of racing altogether. We’re here to race, to ride our bikes faster; therefore each man must offer his best. The nobility of cycling is soiled by such men. Now, I’ve done my fair share of sitting in during races, but we all know that the last 2 laps (and associated tactics) are a far cry from 25 min to go with a 10 second gap.
It is worth highlighting at this point that I was already on a bad day mentally. My rear race wheel was not functioning before the race and my training wheel was kaput to. Having allowed little things get to me, Nick offered me his spare rear wheel. A gracious move. So when the LJO messes up the break du jour (and I was going to make sure that Nick was in the break du jour!) the thread was close to breaking. I told Nick “he won’t work” and dropped back to the field to recover. There was no sense going into the red with a guy that won’t play the game.
Coming into the final laps Mike and Nick were at the front. 5 to go flashed by and the group was doing the usual surge and swarm. As we started the penultimate lap, Mike was on the front with Nick on his wheel. I knew it was the time to start the lead-out, but could we hold position for 2 laps? And the fastest laps at that? I set a hot pace and strung out the field. From what I could tell later, the pack was breaking up. Thank you very much. Nick said later that I pulled for 0.5 laps but I’m pretty sure I pulled for 1.15 laps. Regardless, I dropped Mike and Nick off on the backstretch of the final lap, with Mike doing the hard work into the final incline. Nick held tough for a 7th place finish in the sprint. Not too shabby a result considering his breakaway attempts and this is his first year as a cat 3. We’re still fine tuning the leadout, perhaps with a little more luck we could have dropped him off at the final turn. But, we’re learning and having fun even if we didn’t “race for free” this weekend.
Oh, and the worst part of the weekend: LJO won the sprint. Let’s see if that happens next time.
After the lead-out I strolled in chatting with Trey (Dogfish) and tooled around for the hour between races. A light rain began and I could tell I was mentally fatigued. I dropped the tire pressure down to 90/95 (not nearly enough!) for the wet conditions and lined up for my first 1/2/3 crit.
The pace started out quick and the field lined out right away. I kind of enjoyed it as I wasn’t suffering, just working and it was pretty safe. Unfortunately, the downhill left-hander over traffic paint seriously freaked me out. I would slow and let a big gap open up into that turn every time and then sprint up the hill to catch on. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad physically, but the specter of broken clavicles and bikes was weighing on me. Tracey (Mesa) even said “this is where they all stack it!” on one of the early laps. He then goaded me to quit opening up that gap. I protested and then pulled him up to the field and dropped to the back of the line. Another lap or so and I had enough of my rear wheel sliding into that turn (turns out the carbon rear braking surface and the alu front combined with my new cables – i.e. still being broken in – meant my braking was anything but consistently modulated!!) and when I locked up my rear and began sliding I check out upstairs and let the selection ride away.
Sheepishly riding in I did a jerk thing which I hate: I explained to everyone who would listen why I dropped out. Nobody cares. Nobody needs to hear my justification for it. And what difference does it make if I didn’t have the legs? If you’re out of the race: you’re out. You are not the best. Get over it.
I watched from the car and then from an awning on the finishing stretch as the race unfolded. Jonathan Schilling (Chipotle) and Devin Clark (The Hub) got away then sprinted it out at the line. I was surprised at how close the final margin was considering A) Clark is purportedly a “track guy” (doesn’t that equate to monster sprint watts?) and B) Schilling is on junior gears (did he report to rollout?!). I’m probably not one to pass judgment though, as I DNF’d! A great ride by both men and an exciting finish.
It’s probably a good thing I’m not going to JMSR this weekend, but instead will get some longer miles in to keep the fitness going while unwinding upstairs. I’ve got a few 4 hour routes here in Columbia but it might be time to recon some of the state RR courses. We’ll see.Next up: Tour de Grove!