Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fall Challenge - 9/24/2006

Last road race of the season, and I had convinced myself that I could win this race today. I started thinking about it last night, I even analyzed the year that I came in fourth. Dan G jumped about half way up the last rise before the line... so I thought I'd try that also.

I showed up, with Jason Rapp and Gary Berkholder from SBR. Jason said he was planning on doing 3 of the 5 laps before he expected to blow up. So we rolled out, and Jason set the pace for the first lap... it was slow, but typical SBR fashion... we don't race smart, but we do contribute.

Second lap Jason sits in about half way back. I'm doing no work, and the pace was really easy. Second time up the climb, I fell a little far back on the descent, and had to dodge guys falling off the pace to get back near the front of the race. So I figured I'd try to stay closer to the front on the remaining descents.

On the climb, Jason pointed out one guy in a light blue kit (CMVC Preformance? Some Pittsburgh team) that he watched control Zoar. So I start watching him. He's directing at least 3 other guys, all in different kit, and they are controlling the front of the race.

As we come by the start finish, I see we've got 2 to go. So, I figure it's going to start getting rougher now. I pull up next to Jason, and ask him how far he wants to go? The race is too easy in my estimation. There are to many cat 5 guys squirreling around, so if this is his last lap, I'd like him to make it hard and cull the field a bit. He says he wants to make all five laps, so I'll just let someone else make the race.

Something must have changed on the downhill, because Jason goes to the front on the outside, Gary follows to the front on the inside, and we've got two SBRs pulling on the descent. I'm sitting about 10 back, as we hit the hill. The Jason fades off the back. I'm again further back than I want to be, but we crest and I'm right on the back end of the field. I'm able to work my way back up with some effort. It looked to me like Gary was just about to give up when I came by him, and told him to dig deep, recover and get ready for the next lap. I expect them to punch it over the hill next time around.

The field is now cut in half.

Steve Previs was there today also, and I'm sitting near the back chatting with him as we pass through the line. We end up chatting quite a bit more than I'm comfortable with, and he likes to sit at the back of the field... so on the downhill, I cut up the inside and settle in to fourth wheel.... and sit there.

Up the climb, I'm digging to not loose any position... and succeed. As we start the rollers to the line, the three guys ahead of me are the guy in blue and two of his buddies. They push the pace a bit, but I'm sticking right on them. I can win this thing... as long as I don't do anything stupid. So, every time one of the three pull off, I open a gap and they pull into it. I'm basically gate keeping, and doing nothing extra. I bide my time, as we close in on the line.

It remains the four of us all the way to the last little rise. I'm still on the inside, and I expect the rush but it doesn't come. So I jumped right where I had planned on. I got a huge gap, and kept looking for the chase. It didn't come.. and I didn't figure out why, until the official started ringing the bell for the last lap!

I went one lap too early!

Everyone knew which lap cards to watch but me. Typically, when there's an A race and a B race, the top numbers are for the A's and the bottom are for the B's. This time, the officals were setting the top numbers for both A's and B's, and the bottom numbers were for the women/juniors field.

SO... instead of just continuing the attack, I sat up and let the field pull me back in... I figured I could recover enough to still have a chance. Once back in the field I started joking about my dufus move. Can't take this bike racing too seriously... it would be to painful that way.

So we're down to about 20, the same 4 guys are still driving the pace, and I'm sitting about fifth to tenth wheel as we hit the hill. Its hard to do that hill this "extra" time, and I popped off and somehow was close to the last one over the top.

I was about 50 meters back at the top and I somehow convinced myself to chase as hard as I could. I was able to start picking guys off. I kept looking for some help, but I guess I had more left than the guys I was catching. I ended up picking up one guy to work after passing about 5. We caught a couple more but they didn't help much at all. Even though the two of us were encouraging them to work. Once the both of us blew up (me first, then him right afterward), the other guys got in front of us. One other guy caught us, and got around. I re-caught the helping dude, and was going to just roll in with him, but he said he was cramping on the climbs, so I left him to try to catch the next guy up the road... it didn't work.

So a group of 12 contested the sprint. Previs came in 7th (first non-paying spot) and I think I came in 16th. Gary finished 3-4 behind me, and Jason finished the 3rd lap and called it quits.

I'm pissed at myself for once again coming up with some stupid reason for not doing as well as I'd hoped. I had a plan, and worked it exactly as I wanted, I just screwed up the lap count.

Please let 'cross season start soon, so I can thrash myself mercilessly for an hour every weekend for being so stoopid. My racing luck has got to turn around soon. If not, there is always the off season.

In the A race, we had Tom Keller and Brett. Paul Martin was alone up front. Tris was about 2-3 minutes back, then Rudy another 2 or so. Then Ed Delgros, and John Lowry. The field stayed together until the rollers on the way in, an MVC guy took off, and Tom followed, then the field dribble in behind.

Brett on a borrowed bike! After showing up to the race without breakfast or food for the race, or even a water bottle... had enough time to adjust the seat on the bike and ride around the parking lot twice and borrow a bottle before being called to the line. He made it with the group into the last lap then bonked huge and fell way off the pace. We were about to get in the car and go look for him when he rolled in looking like a bear waking up from hibernation! Props to gary for bringing some extra food, or I think Brett may have chewed off his own arm to get home.