I did the Westlake Tuesday night worlds yesterday. Ryan, Tom K, Brian, Mehul and another Spin guy were also in the field with the usual 6 or so RGF, 6 Carbon and 10 Lake Effects.
This being my first of the year, and that I haven't raced much yet this year, I had no idea how I would go. My plan was to get in some training efforts, despite the World Champion status, this is a Training race after all.
So we roll out reasonably easy, until Matt Weeks opens it up a little. Roll around a bit more and Matt decides to go off the front. No worries there, I figure RGF and Carbon can work to bring that back, and they do. Soon another group starts to go with representation, so I get to the front and work to bring that one back.
I'm still on the front when Tris (Carbon) goes with Bob Martin (RGF) and Rudy (Lake Effect)... as they go (on the opposite side of the field) I'm thinking one of my Spin guys can get on that one... I'm not going to. URK!!
Lesson 1: If a move goes with all the big boys represented... don't assume someone else will get it. I should have just gone and thought later. The doubts were flying at that point, so I watched the race go away from me... and in short order I knew it. There's no telling if I could have stuck on that move, but we'll never know now, because I didn't even try. Shoot. The break went out to about 30 seconds or so, and then just sat there... while Stephan from RGF pulled us along.
Being the only other team with numbers not in the break, it was really our responsibility to bring it back... but we also knew that we're a bit outclassed by the RGF/Carbon/LE big guns, and I think intimidation played a part. We'd get a couple guys on the front pulling along, but the other teams would insert in the pace and screw us up... very effectively. What are we to do?
So I tried some attacks... I could open a small gap, but they'd shut it down pretty quickly. Then someone from one of the represented teams would attack, and I'd jump on that one. Kind of a "once bitten, twice shy" thing. I certainly didn't want another split of RGF/LE/Carbon going up the road without Spin being in it, and if that meant I'd cover everything, then I certainly would get some training out of it.
It was kind of crazy to get brought back, and then have to jump immediately onto the counter attack move. When that got brought back, I decided to sit in a bit... by choice or otherwise. Then Tom comes up and says, "come on John, let's get a paceline to bring this back." Ugh, OK. I'll do it. We get four or five of us to the front, and roll through. Much to the delight of Tom Frueh (Carbon) who starts cat calling, or cattle calling, whatever.
Lesson 2: I have not raced with the team much, so I don't know everyone yet. We certainly were not aggressive enough on protecting our pacelines. Instead of just letting a few guys work, we had made an effort to bring this back. And we were getting swarmed with RGF/Carbon guys inserting themselves into the line. We made multiple attempts, but when our guy would pull off they would drift way back into the field instead of fighting to get on the wheel of the last guy on our team. We didn't have enough guys, or didn't know to, put in a gatekeeper at the back of the chase line. At one point, I tried (and failed) to move Dan Quinlin (Carbon) off the wheel of one of my guys... HA, elbows out, but I'm not going to bump him off... even if I was ready to start actually bumping. I did get his wheel though, and it's not like he really slowed it down... he just pulled through.
We did put some time into the break, right about when a van pulled out between the field and the break. It was also just about when we were going to pass the B field, so we were slowed to B field pace, with the van between the fields as the break went out a bit again. Oh well.
The nice thing about last night was even with the break gone, the field still wanted to race their bikes. So if Spin or Snakebite weren't working, Carbon/RGF/LE would be on the front just keeping the break within the 30-45 second range. They never got out of sight... which means the other teams may have been toying with us.
The break was far enough out that Bridgette did ring a field prime or two. Coming around the back on a 1 point prime, I found myself in fourth wheel behind Andy (RGF), Tom (Carbon) and Polo (RGF). Mehul came on my wheel, and told me that RGF was setting it up for Polo. So I figured I'd work to get Mehul up there to contest it. At 500M Stephan (RGF) goes up the left with Brian (Carbon) on his wheel, so I go on the right to jump on that... and I'm third wheel with a small gap. (HUH?) Brian just looks behind him at 200m, and I jumped at 150... got really clear and won the prime! (Again... HUH?) I figured I must have just done a stupid sprint for nothing because there was SO much daylight between me and the rest of the guys... so I put my head down and tried to keep the effort up. Not that I had much left, and I was pulled back right at the turn.
Lesson 3: What is going on here? I don't know this yet. Why was I let go to get a point? Often teams let people go for cash... but points are precious. I've never seen a point given as easy as I got mine. I do not understand the dynamic of the primes in the A race yet... and this is at least my fourth year in the A race. I will say, last year one of my goals was to get a single point at Westlake. Now I feel cheap because it was basically given to me on my first attempt in my first race of this year. Now I've got to change my goals and try for a place instead.
As I get back into the field, Mehul asks if I won it... so that makes me more sure it wasn't a stupid sprint, then gives me a push to keep me in the field. I really appreciate both the warning of the prime, and the push... I didn't need the push, but it say a lot about him as a team mate.
So we kept at it. I would chase any attacks. We'd try to get a pace line going... it was frustrating in a way, but we did still race our bikes. I may have frustrated some of the guys that were trying to get away also... I knew that if I got into a move with them, I would have to do the work... cause they wouldn't take me up to the break... they knew that also. They also probably knew that I couldn't get across without their help. So every time they looked back and saw me, they knew they were done. I did see Brian raise his hand in frustration on one of those types of moves. I'm also sure that if they had seriously commited to the jump, they would have gotten away from me, and could have sent a few more splits up the road... but that would have broken the rule of chasing your own break down. It became a very tactical night which actually made it quite fun. Since everyone played by "the rules", everyone was allowed to race their bikes all night long.
Lesson 4: I can do much more work than I thought I could at the beginning of the night. I jumped enough, and pulled enough, that I was almost dropped on a few occasions. and I DIDN'T CARE! My goal was to get some training in, and I did. I managed to hang onto the field every time. So then I could get back up front and get some more efforts in. Not once did I say "If I work, I might get dropped." Instead I worked...then I said..uh oh, I better work to NOT get dropped. Very nice feeling, and a big confidence booster.
Lesson 5: On one of the effort to pull the break back. Tom got to the front and put in a big pull, then I went next. I'm not sure, and I want to investigate this, but I did something on that pull that felt fast, and didn't send my HR through the roof. It's hard to describe the feeling, but I've done those efforts in training before. My plan now is to search for that sensation to see if I can find it and use it when I need it in a race.
With 4 to go, I expected another attack, so positioned myself in the front 5-10. We just rolled around until the bell lap. I figured, OK I'll surf wheels and see what I can do. Two places left, maybe I can poach one of them off the sprinters.
Lesson 6: The big teams take crazy chances... as do some folks that have no reason sticking their wheels in there. If we had rolling enclosures, it might have been different. I was not interested, decided I had gotten in plenty of work and rolled in behind the field.
Two hours of race pace efforts with plenty of work. We ended with a 26.1 average, so we were not slouching, and I was part of the race... I can eat a bit of ice cream tonight! YAY.
I also have to give props to the two Snakebite guys in the field. They were working hard, and it made me proud to have been on the team in the past. Keep it up guys.
2 hours ago