OK, so I'd love to actually win a bike race. But you know the statistics and all, 60+ riders line up, and only one can win. Still, we show up to test ourselves, right? And besides, bike racing is a TEAM sport. Though it is sometimes lost in the cat 3, 4 and 5 fields.
So Tom Humphrey and I lined up for the Zoar 3/4 race on Sunday with Aussie Rob from the multisport team. We decided to work for Rob, which really does take pressure off guys like me. I just have to work my butt off, and leave the result for Aussie. If it came down to a sprint, we had to take the race at about 1K out, to make everyone work... and make the finish safer. Since everyone can't win, someone has to move. We would do that.
We rolled up to the back of the field, and I decided to cheat up closer to the front, since I didn't want to get stuck behind the whole field and wait for the climbs... like happened at the Tour of the Valley road race. Thereby, I elected myself to patrol the front at the beginning at least.
So, in my best cycling news style.
The first move of the day happened on the first climb of the first lap, when a group of about 10 got up a reasonable gap. Being on the wrong side of the gap, I first attempted a bridge, which failed. Then Tom and I went into chase mode with some help. At the turn before the second climb, the gap was down to 10 seconds or so, and we decided to conserve for the climbing, sure someone would finish the chase up. And they did, so it was all together at the end of the first lap.
First climb of the second lap, a Freddie Fu and SnakeBite rider got another gap. Dangerous enough, I chased with other help until into the second climb, when Freddie Fu came back.
The field was content to leave the SnakeBite rider out there for the entire third lap. There were a few folks that were interested in chasing, but no one was committed. I certainly didn't want to do it alone, and only became concerned when he was out of sight. On the final lap, Tom decided it was time to bring him back. So we went into chase mode, and ended his day before the final climb.
Heading into the final climb, Tom somehow rolled off the front. He decided to pursue this as long as he could, hoping to be there when Aussie needed him for the finish.
In the mean time, Aussie had decided the time to go... and at the base of the final climb, surprised all by attacking hard. It took the other contenders completely by surprise. Aussie had 200meters in short order. When the chase did start, some wheels where crossed, taking maybe 5 or more riders down. I ended up getting through the carnage, barely, and it took a few moments to shake off the effect of a close call.
Aussie had about 20-25 seconds over the top, with the main group of about 20 cresting slightly in front of me. My intent was to chase back onto the group, and be there for the finish, in case Aussie got caught.... or to be able to wind up something of my own if he made it to the finish. Instead, I ended up with the dubious honor of first guy over the last hill that did not catch back onto the group.
Aussie held a beautiful move to the finish for the win, I rolled in around 25th (estimated).
So, although I did not finish with an actual result, I am totally happy with my result in this race. I was patrolling the front, and making sure if Aussie was concerned about chasing anything, he knew I would help. In the end, knowing Aussie was on his way to the finish may have been why I didn't actually chase back onto the field. A completely doable thing on this course. I could see them, I just didn't put in the effort to actually finish the chase. In hind site, I'm not sure if I could have, because I was content to finish where I did.
And it was a blast! The three of us had a plan, and each of us worked to that plan. Plus Aussie was aware enough, to see the perfect place to attack, and have the legs to execute it to perfection. My jaw practically dropped when he went. It was an attack of beauty.
The next best thing to getting a result for yourself, is working toward a team result.
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