Covered Bridge A race again this week. It's a bonus race, since I was supposed to go to breakfast with my family. I got the OK to race at 7am... for a 9:30 start. Fortunately, I really haven't unpacked much from my Saturday race, so I don't have a lot of prep to do to race today.
Now I first have to tell you what a GREAT wife I have. She first approved the race visa on short notice, then as I jump into the car to leave she asks "Do you have your helmet?"...and I didn't! She never asks me that. After I get out of the car and grab my helmet, she tells me "Now go through your own check list to make sure you haven't forgotten anything else important that you'll need for your race... do you have your license?". Got give props to my girl for that one... it's nice having support at home for my crazy obsession.
The other downside of this short prep time is I did not eat a good breakfast... I'm a oatmeal race day breaky person... instead, I grabbed an extra Clif Bar, a few Gues and couple other tasties to eat on the road. Well... I did what I could. Of course, I can now think of all kinds of food we had that I could have grabbed... leaving later than I wanted didn't help either, so it's not like I could stop anywhere on the way. Race to the race, race at the race, race home.
Riding in the "Man's Race" this week (that's what I over heard while signing in)... Last week, the A race was a tame affair, that built my confidence. So this week, I'm coming to play. It's not that I expect to win, or even contest the prime lap, but I do believe I can hang, and belong in the A fields. The win yesterday also helps my confidence loads, so I'm not approaching this race with the goal to simply finish, I'd like to participate... and be part of the race, and hopefully have it in the tank to go when it gets tough. I also do not expect the race to go as easy as last week, so I am looking forward to some pain.
Dave, Chris and Tom are also representing SBR in the A race today. All are surprised to see me, since I'd already told them I would not be racing. I arrived before signin started, so I had some time to get dressed. Throw my money in, and get a 10+ minute warm up.... I hope this doesn't start super fast.
On the line, the promoter tells us about some guys that rode around the left of a motorcycling heading towards us last week. That must have been the guy that rode right at the field... I guess someone thought it would be better to ride on the outside than to try to get back over the yellow line. That was scarier than I thought. Warnings are given, we (well, some of the racers anyway) decide to do 8 laps instead of 7, and off we go.
Actually, more happened before the race, than really happened in the first 4 laps... ride hard, go harder, back off... over and over. I did a pretty good job of staying in the front half of the field. I was near the front shortly after the first break went with 6 to go. They rang for the prime, and the field started chasing. I followed a few moves, though didn't really have it to contribute... but did my best to not screw up anyone behind me when I pulled out of a line. For the most part I felt good, and just worked on position.
I guess with 4 to go, it was time to really start racing. I was still hanging in near the front, but the pace was wearing me down. I'm not alone either, crossing the bridge, Jimmy Mac almost takes out Dick Brink's front wheel right in front of me. Dick is out of the pedal, holding everything together, as I take evasive manuvers around the outside.
As we came through with 3 to go, I caught myself thinking about how I should have gone to breakfast with the family instead... NOT a good sign. I've got 3 laps to go, I can finish this race THEN do breakfast, and lunch combined.
Then the pace went up again. I noticed that there was almost always a gap of about a bike length between me and the guy in front. Then someone would come around me, and pretty soon the same gap would appear in front of me again... and I just wasn't closing it.
We hit Riverview, and I watched the front group just kind of move up the road a bit. I watched Brent Evans make it across alone, and saw a couple more guys come back to my group... I still tried to keep working to get back, but it was not looking good. With 2 to go, I was sitting near the front of the second group. The first group was about 200 or so meters up the road. We hit the one hill, and I rolled over it... I tend to use my momentum well over this little rise so I don't even feel most of the hill... , I also come by people often when I do it... I did the same thing here, pushed it a little over the top expecting to be pulling the group along over the top. Instead I popped way off the front of the group. 20+ meters in nothing flat. WTF!
So I sit up there, waiting to work, and the group is not really coming up to me. Weird... it's like they suddenly gave up. When I got back in, an A&F guy says "Work with the group, not against it." WHAT? Honestly, I was expecting to pull then... right when everyone sat up, I guess.
So we get into this rotation with a few of us pulling. And as we come around to Riverview, the front group is gone... well, not totally, but the gap is now close to a Kilometer. We won't be seeing them again.
So now it turns into a club ride. About 6 of us are working a rotation, with a few others jumping in occasionally. With 1 to go, and John Reade comes up and says... "A bit harder than a cat 4 race, huh?" To which I respond "Well, not now. It was a little while ago." I guess the race is over for our group and most us were just getting in a long cool down.
So that was basically it. Coming into the last stretch, I'm near the front when Thom Dominic comes up, and I ask if we're going to sprint for 20th place. He laughs, and agrees. So I tell him to go for it, and he takes off at the school driveway. Then Tom K. comes up and offers to lead me out... from about 500 meters. I jump on his wheel, but my legs are pretty cooked with the two days of racing. It's about all I've got left to stay on his wheel.
Then we look up and realize we're sprinting into a finish line crowded with the front group, and a good portion of the B's that watched the A race finish... no place to go, so we all just roll through.
It turns out Chris came off the group shortly after lap 4, and Dave flatted deep into the same lap. About when I was thinking about breakfast, he was pulling into the parking lot to pack it in. Tom and I made it to the end in the second group with visions of better finishes to come next time.
Overall a good weekend. I think with better prep, and without the lapse of concentration, I could have made the front group. I don't know how long I could have stayed there, but it would have been fun to give it a go. I'm pretty sure I talked myself out of the effort required to close the gaps and stay on the wheel to get me there though. Still that's how I learn. Do it the hard way first... over and over again, until I figure out how to actually do it right.
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