After Sunday's moderate success (I finished but I didn't have a sprint), I figured I should try and ride okay at the Tuesday Night Worlds. Last race here I managed to do 30 minutes before I got shelled, about half distance. This week I hoped to repeat, and if I could do more, great.
The weather played with us hard leading up to the go/no-go call time. At 4 PM the promoters try to announce if the race will be on or not, but with the fickle summer weather, it was hard to call. In fact, here in town, it was pouring on one side (where I was, with Junior) yet sunny and bright just a few miles away.
Looking at the radar pictures I realized there were two lines of clouds headed down from the northeast, like two competing leadout trains. Inbetween lay our town (the northern part anyway). I had been under the southern leadout train, with rain and thunder. The northern leadout train would pass a bit north of our house, and continue on towards East Hartford.
When I looked at the map carefully it appeared that the gap between the two cloud masses would just about miss Rentschler Field.
At 4-something the promoters took the chance. The races were on.
I packed up before the Missus got home, some things left undone on purpose. My bike was last to go up, in case it started to rain here, and we left a bit later than planned.
(Note: when you have a new addition to the family, even the most pessimistic time estimates seem too optimistic.)
We made it to the race venue okay, the dark clouds threatening but only tangentially.
The wind, though, drilled down on us. On the way down the trees waved as we passed, showing off the light color undersides of their leaves. With the actual stadium behind the course we'd be dealing with some very strong swirling winds.
I decided against using the Stingers for a number of reasons. The main one was that last time I didn't use them and I was okay for 30 minutes. Other reasons included the fact that I didn't feel like pumping up the tires on the Stingers. I also didn't feel like swapping the rear wheel.
In fact I was so blah that I didn't even check the tire pressure on the Bastognes (basically Ardennes type non-aero HED wheels) - I figured I normally inflate them higher than recommended (95/105 psi) so if they were low, like in the 70s, that would be fine.
Plus Boonen rode Paris Roubaix with 60 psi. If he could do 60 psi then I could do 60 or 70.
Just to be sure I pushed down on the bars to see how much the tire squished.
Ah, whatever. It'll be good. I'll get the sensation of the tire digging in and maybe sliding a bit.
We started off at about Mach 3, maybe Mach 4. The wind only made it feel faster. I was okay for a lap or two but then realized that, okay, this was bad.
The wind made it real tricky. I tried to be on the left on the main straight. After the first turn (a left), I wanted to be on the left again, ditto the backstretch. But going through the third turn I wanted to be on the right so I'd move over before we hit the turn. The sweeping final straight wanted me on the right at the beginning, then the left as it straightened out.
It was tricky to find shelter, and after a couple errors I paid the price.
I went off the back.
I needed the training so I eased immediately, let the field lap me, and jumped back in. It always seems easier when you first jump in, and I almost fell victim to the "I should have just gritted it out" thought process. I'd then berate myself for giving up too easily when I got shelled the first time.
Before I could fully indulge in the self-disciplining thoughts I found myself in trouble again, and shelled again. No self berating necessary here. Apparently I couldn't maintain the minimum power required to stay in the race, or I could but I made errors putting me in the wind.
I jumped in a third time, carefully sitting at the back, careful not to gap others off the back. This time it didn't seem so easy when I jumped back on.
At some point, shifting from the left to the right of the wheel in front of me, a guy made a move up the right side, the tight side. I'd checked to see if it was clear, saw the gap, and moved about a foot over (relative to everyone, who moved a bit right, so I moved maybe two feet right). This took place over a number of seconds.
Problem was that the guy who'd left the gap closed it, and in the process he lightly bumped me.
Thinking about our situation (at the back, lapped, training race) I verbally protested (i.e. I yelled). He protested back that I'd moved over.
Yes I did, but I checked my 5 o'clock, saw the gap, and I only moved over enough to take the spot. I move gently - it's a way to take spots without being aggressive, and it's the most common way of taking a spot.
I left some room there but it was too small to move into, and with a wide sweeping turn ahead it'd make sense, even if it were the end of the race, to wait until after the turn.
I didn't have time to think about that so I just rode away from the guy, up to the front of the group, found a teammate of said guy, and told him that they need to teach the guy how to ride.
Of course, in a race, at 30 mph, no one knew what I was saying, and actually everyone in the area thought I was yelling at them to "learn how to ride".
(Note: this is a great way to destroy support that others show you, by yelling some random nonsense that everyone thinks applies to them.)
With that effort and the one second yelling thing I blew myself up, this time for good. I sat up and dropped out.
I was still fuming when I stopped.
Then the guy walked over. With his sunglasses on I couldn't read his face, and I made the assumption that he was still fuming too. You know what they say about assumptions, right?
Well I laid into him, explaining that I looked, that I moved over just enough to claim the spot, that he could have waited, blah blah blah.
When I stopped for a breath he looked at me helplessly.
"I only came over here to apologize."
Eff me and the horse I rode in on. Here I am laying into the guy and he's remorseful and apologetic and everything that I didn't expect.
I couldn't switch gears that quickly (I can't grin and say, "Just kidding dude, that was fun out there!") so I thanked him for that and apologized.
I can't remember if I said it to him but I remember thinking, "Okay, here's a guy that has way more class than I do."
After he left I went to the Missus and admitted fault in my verbal attack. She'd missed the whole thing due to Junior so it was all news to her. I guess I was a bit affected by the poor cornering I saw at Keith Berger (which I didn't really describe in the post). It would have been comical had I not known more of the story behind the main cornering culprit at the KB Crit.
Well, at the Rent, my thoughts still along the lines of "There are racers that don't know anything!" Therefore I laid into the guy who made a slight error. He showed true class by coming over to apologize.
I, of course, acted like a jerk. I'm not posting any pictures of the guy, nor any clips. I would still make the same move every lap of every race, I think it's that safe/normal. At the same time if someone moved up and realized too late that the door had been closed... well, they should have a chance. If it was a super experienced racer there'd be no excuse, but for everyone else, it's all good.
What this means is that every time I see this guy for pretty much the rest of my life I'll make sure he keeps his spot. I'll fight for it if we're bearing down on the finish of a race, but at the back, when it doesn't matter, it's all him, all the time.
This is my penance for being a jerk to him.