Thursday, August 26, 2004

Cross on the Lake 2004

Honey Stinger - Spinergy

August 25, 2004

Just like riding a bicycle...

The first cyclocross race of the season. Of course, this wasn't REAL 'cross weather. 70 and partly cloudy... it hasn't rained in a couple of weeks. But it doesn't matter... all weather is 'cross weather, and the season is young.

Last year, I did this race as my first ever cyclocross experience... and did pretty well. The course didn't change significantly from last year. We started next to the road, with a long straight start/finish section. doubled back for the first set of barriers. Made a right turn and headed up the hill. Another quick right, into the first downhill through the trees. We turned back to climb half way up the hill, then snake across the field toward the stair run up. At the top of the stairs, a long straight section to the amphitheater terraces. We drop and climb the top terrace twice, then head down the hill to snake around through the stage area before heading back to the start finish straight. An interesting feature here is slotting through a 2.5 foot gap between 2 8x8 posts heading into and out of the start/finish straight. The course is about 3/4 of a mile long... so the repeated barriers, climbing and run ups become the issue.

Now that I'm a seasoned bicycle racer and 'cross vet (!), I actually had some expectations that I would be able to podium this thing. I even decided that 45 minutes wasn't long enough... so I planned on doing the B race for the podium, then joining the A race for "fun". I know... fun is not normally the feeling used to describe cyclocross.

I arrived at the venue at 8:30, and noticed many more cars in the lot than last year when I was the only cat 5 racer to show up. Honey Stinger had done much more advertising this year than last, and it paid off. The C race was off with 5 cat 5 racers including 1 woman, and a couple of juniors including a 10 year old.

The schedule is the C-race with Cat 5/cit/juniors. Then the Cat 3-4/women B race, and then the Cat 1-2-3 A race. Yep, 3-4's in the B's... well, maybe podium was a bit ambitious for this cat 4 racer. But then, without goals... you have nothing.

I saw a lot of guys I knew from last years circuit, I even talked a pair of them into racing B's... the event was sanctioned, but if they let me race with the cat 3 field, they'd let these guys race up with a one-day.

So a warm-up while the C race is going, and the course is OK. Ryan and I are representing Chaos. Pat and Linda Miranda, Brett Davis and Norm Kreiselmeier from Snake Bite, Brett and Norm are on singlespeeds. There's John and Jeff from Honey Stinger and Phil Hines is also there... from last years cross season. Paul Salipante from Square Wheels is there and he gives me the run down on who to watch from the Case students. From where I sit, it's pretty open... though my money is on Brett and Phil with way to many unknowns.

B Race

So cyclocross boils down to the start.... you need to have a good start so you don't get tied up in traffic and inexperienced riders going into the first obstacles, which was going to be the first turn between the posts when we were stuffing 20 guys in a small space, and then getting over the first barriers. After that the hill climb would start to spread the field out.

"Racers ready", and I start messing with my computer! I am out of practice. I know better than this! My goal was the hole shot, and instead I'm pushing buttons as we head out. So I'm behind about 5-10 guys through the posts, and start to move up as we approach the first set of barriers. I'm though and back on OK, then hit the hill. I'm still in a group, so I just run up the hill for the first time. I was able to ride it in practice, with guys in front of me, I didn't want the risk.

Out and around to the stairs, shoulder the bike and run the stairs. Remount at the top and get a little recovery. 4th place here behind a speedgoat, Brett Davis and Phil Hines. OK, I'm OK. I look down and I see my HRM at 196! My max used to be 182, at least before the Summit fall challenge when I saw 208. So either something is wrong with me, or my HRM is squirrelly. No other riders around me close enough to make a difference... and I feel fine, except that I know I'm over my LT (it is 'cross!). So I turn the HRM so I can't see the numbers. I don't want to know what it says until I get home and download the data. What I don't know, won't scare me.

Through the first lap, and it's time to get settled in. Pat Miranda from SnakeBite is leading me around, every time I try to come around, he either accelerates, or I don't have it. I start to wonder if he's playing the team game on me with Brett up front. It's possible... the front three are opening a big gap and I can't do much to close yet. Meanwhile I'm trying to let Pat protect me from the wind also. We were together for at least a lap, when I got around him on the start/finish straight. He encouraged me on. Big head or what, but he was right behind me going through the first barriers where I screw up the remount... don't screw up a remount... it hurts. You're supposed to land on the inside of the right thigh. I ended up landing a little further up, somehow ending up with the saddle in my stomach (after a few other areas were hit). I got readjusted, but Pat got around me on the climb while I was trying to clear my vision. Now I'm in 5th.

I passed Pat somewhere and was back in 4th place. Then one of the trips through the amphitheater I misjudged the climb and went down. Back up quick enough, but the chain came off my front ring. So I messed around with getting it back on, and was passed by at least two guys. So now I've got space to make up. Chain back on and I'm off chasing...

At some point Norm from SnakeBite went by me... and opened a nice gap. so I'm 6th or 7th with the 2 SnakeBite single speeds in front of me. Those guys are killing me, I'm hoping their legs blow up. I picked up the first place pretty quickly and am into 6th... and slowly open up the gap behind me.

Last year, it seemed my technical skills helped tremendously in the races. I have reasonable skills dismounting, running the barriers and remounting. I shoulder the bike pretty well, and feel pretty smooth in the carry. My mountain biking helps my control in the dirt and mud, so I use those to maintain and advance my position. I also ran a lot playing soccer. This year, my fitness and strength are better, but I've done almost no running and very little mountain biking and 'cross skills practice.

Jeff from Honey Stinger stayed in front for an appreciable time, and I was starting to get concerned. I was watching him and kept slowly bringing him back on the dismounts. Then going through the first set barriers, I clipped the last one and laid out completely. I bounced back up, and again had to lift the chain onto the front ring.

I eventually caught Jeff and passed him going up the stairs. I think he was blown because I had a big gap going into the amphitheater (about 600 meters past the stairs). 5th place.. with not much racing left.

The way the 'cross courses are laid out allow you lots of areas to see where everyone else is. It was pretty obvious that the front 3 were gone from me, never to be seen again. Norm was still a ways up ahead but I wasn't sure if I could catch him with what was left. I was holding Jeff off, so I was pretty sure 5th was mine. The race is figured on time, but after 5 laps or so they take the average lap time, then set the lap counter. So after 5 laps, they say we have N laps to go... and they start counting down. With about 7 or 8 to go, I start to second guess my choice to race in the A's. What was I thinking? I'd forgotten how hard these things are! No way will I survive another hour of this!

At one point, the course doubled back on itself and I saw Ryan cussing at the top of the hill... his race was over with a blown rear tire...

I'm still trying to catch Norm, hold off Jeff, and wondering if I'll race with the A's when I realize I may get lapped by the leader. The race is over when the leader crosses the line, so you finish the lap your on, and that's it. With about 3 to go, I decide I need to not only hold off Jeff, but also the leader so I can finish on the same lap as they do. 2 to go, and it's looking like it might be tight. Jeff is still a ways back and they are still behind him, but they start ringing he bell a little earlier than I'm comfortable with. So I start pushing more.

I realized here that Norm is too far ahead to catch, so my race now is to not get lapped. Down and around, and into the final stretch, and I'm through on the lead lap. I make the turn and through the barriers when I think I hear/see the race end... I keep looking back, but Jeff is nowhere to be seen... I realized that he must have gotten caught just about at the finish and won't be chasing. I won't catch Norm, so i sit up and just cruise in. Trying to save something for the A race.

Fifth place out of 20. Not what I wanted, but I can see areas to improve. It was the Speedgoat, Phil Hines, Brett, Norm and me. I know there were some Cat 3's in the field and I did beat some of them. I think if I could have stayed on the bike, including the bad remount, I could have been in with a chance at 4th. I still might not have had it, but the gap looked to be about the time I wasted in the three mishaps. I do need to get some running and more practice before the next race though. NEXT RACE!! THAT'S NOW! Eat, drink, mix up some Accelerade for my jersey pocket, and get down to the start for the A race.

A Race

OK, I'm now racing the Cat 1-2-3's. Who's in the field? Paul Martin, Rudy Sroka, Ernie from Speedgoat. These guys are incredible. The rest of the field is just really good and really fast... Brent Evens, Mike Goreman, some other Lake Effect guys... and I am spent. Fortunately, Brett Davis from SnakeBite is also racing again... we're the only fools though. Seeing Paul, I ask Brett... "What do you think? 4 or 5 laps down from the winner?" His response... "At least, the idea is to finish and don't be last." My goal is to finish... not more than 5 laps down... even if I am last. No expectations, since this is my second race of the day.

"Racers ready..." and this time I was at least technically ready, if not physically. The whistle, and I'm content to be the back marker heading into the first turn... in fact I was impressed I stayed with the field through the first barriers and up the first hill where I start to fall off.

OK, so it's my own race, and I've got my goals. I'm relaxed and content to be the back marker... I settle in to a comfortable pace (relatively speaking, this is still 'cross). I'm just concentrating on being smooth through the dismounts, and staying steady. No mistakes, this is practice... Brett has a gap on me, then there is the rest of the field ahead of him.

I think I held off being lapped for 3 laps. Right at the top of the stairs, the leader comes through. At that point I started racing by watching who was catching me, and giving space where they could pass. Paul Martin was the second guy by me right before the amphitheater. Going through he caught a peddle and went down... the same place I had in the B race. I didn't see the fall because I was concentrating on my line, but I did pass him before he was up. I passed Paul Martin! Small victories... it didn't last long.

OK, keep it smooth, continue on. I haven't quit a race yet, and I can finish this one... even if it is ugly. But it wasn't. I was holding the gap to Brett pretty constant, and I started to feel pretty good. It helped loads to have people on the course cheering for me. So I kept it up. Before I knew it, it looked like there was someone between Brett and I. Tim Edwards from Honey Stinger... it's possible I won't finish last! Now there is motivation... so I started to chase him. Not burying myself, not taking huge risks, just steadily try to pull him in. I was still getting passed, but now I was racing... ahead and behind.

I eventually caught Tim.. and opened a nice gap. Brett was still maintaining his space, and I was maintaining mine. 2 laps down on the leaders. Then 3... That's OK with me... it just means 3 laps I don't have to do. Hold off Tim, try to close on Brett... well, as long as I'm not last, I've exceeded my goals!

At the finish, I was only 3 laps down on the leaders... and I wasn't last. A personal victory...


The B race was about 10.5 miles in about 48-50 minutes, the A race about 14 in 1:08. I'm still setting goals for the Bike Authority series. I'd like to win the B points series... and get at least 1 win. The B field is supposed to be Cat 4/5, sport race. I think a top 3 in the series is a realistic goal... and I'd be disappointed with less since I got fifth last year without 'cross experience. A lot depends on where Brett Davis and Phil Hines race... and how often they show up. I think Phil is a cat 3 now, so that might help. My plan is all 6 races with consistent finishes. So it's time to get more practice, and more 'cross specific training.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Zoar Raod Race - 2004

Stark Velo

August 8, 2004

Geoff Zylstra has been gunning to win this event since he raced it last year as a 5. Of course, we took a couple of risks to his completing the plan by A) Catting up to 4, B) racing hard on the Tuesday (where he came in second in a break) and Saturday (Blossom Challenge)prior to the Sunday race. Recovery was a big issue. I'd decided to ride for Geoff before we got onto Chaos, and my plan hadn't changed. My dream of being the super domestique!

I've been talking to Geoff about putting a 12-25 cassette on for climbing races, especially after getting dropped at Chippewa Creek. He's been against it, saying it wasn't necessary. Maybe not, but I'd rather have, and not need it than the other way around. The decision was made when I talked to Dan Guggenheim on a training ride about it. He's the Chaos strong man and won Zoar 5 last year. I asked him what he thought about it, and he gave me the OK. So I ordered it, and put it on. If I didn't use it, I was only carrying a security blanket. OK by me.

We also had Ryan Williams show up, so the team had 3. I had been talking with Dave Steiner also, and hoped to recruit him for some help, if I could. My plan was to help out where I could, and watch for any breaks that went. If a break started that had representation of a few key teams, I'd try to bridge to join it. Else, given the opportunity, I'd kill myself for Geoff.

Sounds fun, huh? Here's why. Geoff is a climber. I can climb, but I usually am right behind Geoff when it gets steep. Close to equal abilities in all else, I could work to give him the advantage. The Zoar profile has 2 significant climbs. The first is a roller with nothing real steep, but hurts a bit at the end. The second climb is longer and steeper. It would be manageable, except for the last pitch. You get close to the top, and turn into the steepest section. So it's hidden around the corner, and it looks like a wall when you see it. After each climb are long descents where I can usually make up ground.

Four 10 mile laps. I'm hoping to hang in for the first 2 to get the lay of the course. I'll be looking for breaks in 3 or 4, and then be ready for the sprint up the last climb, and the decent to the sprint finish. Granted of course we didn't blow our legs out at Blossom. Geoff and I drove to the course together, and he was a bit worried about his recovery. I had the advantage of a 9 hour sleep, and reasonable meal and relaxation, so I was slightly confident in my legs. It's another 2 race weekend, which has been trouble in the past, so we'll just have to wait and see.

The Race

And my problems start. We arrived at 9 for a 10:00 start. Somehow I managed to get in line for the 1 port-o-pot at the exact wrong time. Not that the line was long, it just took some people FOREVER to finish up their business.... net effect... no warmup for me. I got about 5 minutes before the start. Bleach.

Fortunately, we had a 2 mile neutral rollout. Unfortunately, I must have stepped in something bad again. I could not get my right cleat clipped in. For the first half lap, I was riding with my right foot free. I was so preoccupied with it, I ended up behind a larger rider as the road tipped up for the first climb. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of who to follow to maintain my position. And I'll switch wheels pretty quickly if I find I'm wrong. Somehow, I ended up in the back end of the group on the first climb because I was boxed in behind this guy.

At the top, I jumped around and chased back on.... still trying to get clipped in. I reattached to the front group, and FINALLY got clipped in. Now I could relax and start working our plan.

Up the second climb, and I'm starting to worry a little about being able to stick with the group until the finish. I was fading through the group on the climb. I didn't use the 25, but the 23 was definitely in the mix. The 25 was definitely comforting with the prospect of 3 more trips up that last section.

A really nice decent down to the finish line. The whole first lap was a nice recounter of the course. Once we made the turn onto the second time around, the pace slowed up a little while the group started thinking about the next set of climbs. Our average was about 21 mph for the first lap.

The second lap was pretty uneventful. Stark Velo seemed to be running the pace in a little local turf action. My legs still didn't feel great on the climbs, but I was staying in the group. Ryan was riding well, until we hit the steep section of the last climb, where he'd fade a bit through the pack. I gave some encouragement as I passed, and it was down through the finish for lap 3.

The plan was working fine. No breaks and I had a good idea of how the course would go. I was eating and drinking fine, and intended on dropping one bottle at the finish before the fourth lap. Easy locale to retrieve it, and a little less weight to carry up that final steep. I was concerned about Geoff, as he seemed to be further back than I was, which is where I wanted him. I didn't think I could drop back to get him and still bring him forward.

Up the first hill, I did drift back a bit and Geoff found me. I gave a little encouragement, as it seemed I didn't come back all that far from where I was normally sitting. So I hoped he'd stay with me to the next climb. At this point I pretty much knew I'd make it with the group to the finish. The question was could I follow a break.

On the decent I moved up into the top 10 again, and we started the last climb. It's an interesting dynamic on the hill as the group rolls around you. Guys falling off the front, others moving up to the front. I ended up staying about 10th-15th wheel, but I think most of the wheels changed around me. Geoff went over in front of me (GOOD!), Ryan had real trouble getting over. I gave Ryan some more encouragement, made it over the top with a gap in front of me... so I drilled it to catch back on. Not at my limit, but I was flying past some of the guys to catch Geoff again.

At the bottom, Geoff and I exchanged pleasentries ("nice climb, Geoff", "nice descent, John"), and started talking last lap plans. I really wanted Geoff closer to the front at the start of the last climb than he had been. I told him I'd help if I could. I didn't know if Ryan was back on, so we'd just work together until we found out. I dropped the bottle where I wanted and we were off for the finish.

On the back stretch, we REALLY slowed down. We had an average of 21.8 for the race, but were going about 15. Must be time to fuel up again. Goo and water... and watch the front. We did about a mile or 2 at this pace, when a Summit guy jumped and the pace picked up. I would have liked the pace to stay high over the first climb, but couldn't do it all myself. Then Ryan came around, I tried to get him to chase and attack to lift the pace. From his previous 2 climbs at the end, I didn't think he'd make it in the finish, but I hoped he'd bury himself here to try to shed some guys. Not to be, as we caught Ryan and the summit guy right before the climb.

I had a little chat with Dave, who gave me tons of confidence. "No one in the group is stronger than you are, how much pain can you take? 30 seconds more than everyone else is all you need." I didn't believe a word of it, but it gave me a good boost anyway.

So, I had no idea where Geoff was again, but I found an MVC wheel to take right to the front. He went up, I just followed. There was the MVC, a Stark Velo and 2 Kraners (?) guys together at the front. So I just sat 4th wheel and let them rotate in. up over the second climb comfortable in 4th wheel. That would deliver me nicely to the base of the last climb. I hoped Geoff was somewhere close behind me.

As we hit the climb, I could feel the roll again. I'm peeking over my shoulder looking for Geoff. Hoping he'll come around me or get on my wheel soon. He comes around shortly before the last steep section. By then we're about 20 or so back. I can't get in front of him as we hit the really steep part. I told him to "Get up there, I can't help here. GO!" and he goes hard. He opens a gap on me and crests alone (Shoot). He's behind Mike and Pat from Snake Bite, and about 10 yards in front of me.

As soon as I crest, I start chasing to see what I can do. As I catch Geoff, I tell him I'm coming and to get on my wheel, and away we go. My goal is to haul Geoff up to the Snake Bite train, I think I'm gaining... and then I'm dying, and I have to pull off (I really should have just buried myslef here). I yell for Geoff to go and grab them as I pull off, and try to find the end of our line. It turns out, I'm hauling Geoff and 2 others. Geoff leads it, while I recover a bit.

Another guy came flying by, and I yell for Geoff to get on it. He does just as the guy dies. I was able to recover even though I thought I wouldn't, so I come around, and start hauling again.

I started doing the tunnel thing here. I knew Geoff was on my wheel, and the Snake Bites were still a bit up front. No one was getting in front of us, but we weren't catching anyone else either. We had our train of 4 or 5 guys, and every time I pulled off, Geoff had to work, no one else had it. I think I did 3 long pulls, I kept trying to get Geoff on my wheel. I'd shout a warning to him as I was coming and hoped he could get on.

I pulled off again at 1K, and sat in for a bit. Then came around again around 500M. At 200M, I didn't see Geoff on my wheel, so I decided to just sprint with everything else I had. I caught 2 guys that had given up on the line and know I passed one if not both of them.

I ended up 14th out of 38 starters, Geoff was a few guys behind me in 17th, so our results didn't work out the way we wanted. I was very surprised to see that we had managed to pull ourselves back up to the lead group, as they gave us both the same time as the winner. Results

Ryan finished further back, a bit over a minute behind. He was visibly disappointed in his result. He did do a load of work this week including a 3rd place at Westlake, and I hope we encouraged him with that reminder.

Dave Steiner must have suffered a bit longer than any of us, as he finished either 5th or 6th. I really need to figure out how he climbs so well. I could have used a bit more today. I guess I've got some goals for this race next year.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Chaos Blossom - 2004

Cleveland Chaos Cycling

August 7, 2004

Since my last entry, I was asked to join Cleveland Chaos cycling team. By definition, that meant I felt obliged to do the race that they had organized. It meant a two race weekend, since Geoff Zylstra and I already had decided to do Zoar together, but you do what you have to do. A cool part is Geoff is also now on Chaos, so we'll work together for both races.

From the beginning of the summer, I had heard that this was going to be a fast course. The course is a circle going around the Blossom parking areas. No corners, only a big loop. It has no real climbs, just a long roll up and a downhill finish.

Just to add to the fun, right at the start of the Cat 5 race, I realize I'd lost my wedding band. I knew I'd loose it eventually, unless I had it resized. Since I hadn't got around to it yet, it was now gone. Add a bit of distraction before the race.


Being a rather small team, Chaos had a problem getting representation in the races. Most of the guys on the team are working the event, so couldn't just jump in a race. I started the day directing traffic at a parking lot entrance. I was glad to be relieved before the cat 5 race went off, so I could warm up for the 4 race. Most of the team are cat 4 racers, so we had the best representation there, with 4. Geoff, Ryan Williams, Scott Schnitzspahn and myself. Ryan, Geoff and I have raced together as a team at Westlake, where Jim Karlovec and I were to sit in for the finish, while Geoff and Ryan attacked. The plan worked well, and Geoff and Ryan stayed away for second and third. The team did well, but it was a frustrating race for me. I'm happier being aggressive rather than sitting in for the second half of a race.

Because we expected this race to be fast, our strategy is for Ryan and myself to save it for the end. Scott and Geoff will get to the front for the last two laps to line it out. Ryan and I are to be in the top 5 or so, and we'll drill it to the end. If either of us feel good during the race, we can have a go, and the others will try to setup a block. Because the race was all 4's I expected some of the Westlake A racers to make the race harder than the B race. So I was curious how I'd fit into the group.

It's cool, I warmed up in knee and arm warmers. It may be because the course is completely shaded, but it's cooler on the road than the temperatures indicate. Base layer is staying on during the race today. As I strip off the warmers by the registration pavilion, I find they've back filled the foundation with sand. Sand, dirt and/or gravel are terrible for Speedplay pedals. Most people can't clip out when the cleats get fouled with dirt... I have to be different, when I get fouled I can't clip in. Fortunately, I get it all squared away before we line up.

The Race

Standard fair at the start. The four Chaos guys are talking strategy, and we're looking around at who showed up. 36-37 riders. Summit has a big presence, maybe 7 or 8 guys. Orrville has 4 or 5. We have 4. Snake Bite has 2. Then the smattering of other teams, either in pairs or singles.

We're off and Mike Bonomo from Snake Bite sets the pace up. We're motoring around at 25.2 or so. No major climbs, so it's OK in the group. There are a few minor pot holes (nothing deep) and a couple of dips in the road. The dips are worse than the holes, because they are shaped kind of like your wheel, they aren't deep either, but they scrub some speed. The only other obstacle are the hay bails in the final corner. They are protecting two pedestrian poles, but the line through the corners take the inside riders really close to them.

The first few laps go fine, as everyone figures out how to get through the course. We hit our first prime at about the fifth lap. I maintained my position in the top 10, and just observe the prime sprint. It winds up pretty early at about 500-600 meters, because the last 200 are downhill. So I rolled through the first prime somewhere in the top 20.

I'm comfortable on the inside line. I'm getting used to maintaining my position, and following wheels to move me up. I feel pretty good. Then the incidents start.

I think the first one occured as Scott tried to move up on the inside. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but it seemed he was moving up as the peleton squeezed in tight around a dip in the road. Next thing I see is Scott doing cyclocross right next to me in the grass. I eased up and opened for him to get back in. Score: One Chaos rider still up.

A couple laps later, I'm maintaining my position on the inside. There's a Pista Elite rider next to me. I recognize the team name as a junior dev team. Cool. Then the guy touches wheels with the rider in front and starts going all over the place. I tried to cut in tight to give him space to go down, and am about ready to call my race done. As he steers into me, I'm sure I'll be going down. I hear someone shout "rider down!" as the Elite rider has his left foot out, somewhere between my front and rear wheel. I'm leaning lightly as he is, and somehow we disengage with both of us still upright. I call up, "No one down", and jump up to get back up to the group pace. I don't know how we stayed up, that as the closest I've ever come to being taken down. Score: 2 out of 4 Chaos riders almost taken out. Nice little adrenalin rush before the next prime.

Next lap, the Pista Elite guy is near me again. I asked if he was OK, and we settle in again. At the same point where the last incident was, he blows his front tire. Fortunately, he kept it together again with out going down or bringing anyone else down. He pulled off, and took a free lap or two to fix the fla and jumped back in... very impressive how quickly he got back together. I get about one of those laps to relax before the bell rings for the next prime.

I'm planning on jumping into this one, as much to see what I've got as to warm up my sprint. At $50 a prime, it could be nice to pay for the weekends racing. I won't kill myself, as the finish has more chances than the prime, but primes are good practice for the finish.

The prime lap accelerates at the bell. At the point I expect, a group of Orrville riders go around the front on the right, and I've got space to slot in. Up over the last rise, then spin everything down the hill. I end up sixth for the prime, and learn it'll be hard to make up positions on the downhill section of the final. It pretty much came down to you finish where you crested the hill.

Overall, I'm feeling good. I'm moving around comfortably. Ryan is close to the front, but not really giving it a go. At Westlake, he'll jump off the front repeatedly, but that has a mix of Cat 4, 5 and citizens. This is all fours and may be the difference. We're averaging about 25.5 at this point.

At about 10 to go, on the same incline that the sprints have started, an AGH rider (NHVelo) goes off the front and opens a nice gap. For some reason, the group kind of sat up when he went, and I rolled off the front and pulled a gap also. So I bridged up to the guy. I wasn't alone, I brought Dave Steiner up with me. I train with Dave on the evening rides, and know he's strong and a good guy to have in a break. We catch the guy and try to organize it into something. Turns out Dave is shot (surprised me, as I haven't ever been able to ride him into the ground before), and the AGH guy is trying to take shorter pulls than Dave can sustain. I'm trying to get into 30 second pulls, so Dave and I can recover. AGH pulls off, Dave won't come around, so I get stuck doing most of the work.

Geoff somehow saw the break go, but didn't know I was in it. So he gets to the front and starts bringing us back. When he pulls off, Kevin Ward from Lake Effect finishes us off, and we write off our break after 1 lap plus a bit. Oh well, we weren't organized anyway, and didn't have good representation. We really needed an Orrville and a Summit guy to join us to make it stick for 10 laps.

The whole time I was away, I was hoping they'd ring another prime. I figured I had a shot of the 3 of us. Not to be. As we were swallowed up, the pack wanted us to pick up the pace again. I was waving them around, as my main concern now was to get into the group and recover... and under no circumstance did I want to get dropped.

Fortunately, the last prime lap was not until 3 to go. Plenty of recovery time... but a dangerous time for something to get launched off the prime. My goal this time was a top 10, so I could jump into anything that went. A little push over the top, and I was close enough to guard the group, but nothing came of it. All together with 3 to go.

Ryan is still staying nicely up front, and I'm near enough to him. I've spent about 1 or 2 laps on the outside, and didn't like it at all. So I'm sticking inside, waiting for our plan to go into action... if it does.

At the end of 3 to go, Geoff moves up on the outside. I should have shouted something, so he knew where we were. He gets on the front, and starts pulling. Ryan and I are sitting somewhere in the top 10, so it's close to what we wanted. Geoff pulls through the entire lap but then has to relent. Rob Tandy gets to the front for the bell lap, with 2 or three of his guys in tow. Rob could go, but is having bottom bracket trouble, so I think he's sacrificing for the team. Ryan and I are still following nicely at about 6 and 7th wheel.

Rob wasn't pulling long when the AGH guy jumped again. We picked up the pace in pursuit and I thought we had him close. Then Ryan and a Summit guy mix it up right in front of me. They both have to lean in hard, and both stay up, but it scrubs some speed off our finish. (Score: 3 Chaos guys involved, but all of us still upright.) Ryan jumps and I follow trying to regain what we lost. We make it over the top, and push to the line. I count 9 in front of me, with Ryan in 7th or 8th. Then as we go under the bridge, I see the AGH guy! Did he stay away? Sure enough! By a lot. Because of the near wreck, I'd lost track of what happened to him.


So we ended up with Ryan in 8th, I took 11th. Geoff and Scott finished in the field. Overall, we represented the race sponsorship well. I was happy with my race. I was involved in a prime (though not at the front), happy with the break, and with the exception of the scuffle at the end, I'm sure I could have been top 10 at the finish, if not top 5. Thinking it over, I should have worked my way to the outside during the last lap. I then would have had some openings to react to craziness and maybe been able to answer the AGH attack.

Now to recover and get ready for Zoar tomorrow..