If you want to talk Retro Jerseys, I can talk Retro Jerseys.
There are two ways to do Retro Jerseys - prior (and usually extinct) personal kits or prior (and usually extinct) pro kits.
I have gobs of the first, a reasonable number of the second.
I rummanged through my four bins of clothing. Well, it's kind of three, one has mainly winter gear in it. Four, though, accurately represents my bin collection count. This doesn't include my primary and secondary gear bags which hold my current kit, gloves, shoes, socks, Halos, stuff like that. The four bins are the stuff I don't use outside anymore. Two bins for the trainer, two bins for memories sake.
I pulled out about half a bin of clothing.
I had a few ideas. The AKI/Gipiemme jersey is an old favorite. I love the Mapei kits but the shorts are a bit disintegrated. A real Moldavian National Champion jersey from the Saeco days. A real German National Champion jersey from the Telekom days. Fake Belgian Tom Steels jersey (I bought it). A Vibram kit from my friend Greg. And a bunch of old team kits, including one that had my bike shop on it.
I tried on the AKI/Gipiemme jersey first. Let me tell you, I think I was about 135 lbs when I rode in it. I have two left - one has its sleeves intact, the other has the sleeves cut off. I trained like that when I was really fit; in other words I haven't trained like that in a long time.
Well, I got the jersey over my head, got most of my arms through to the sleeves... and I was stuck. The jersey resembled a BMX tire, an unforgiving ring around the top of my torso.
I wiggled my arms helplessly, signaling to the Missus that, yes, I need help.
After careful extrication (don't want to rip the thing), I tossed all the jerseys that size over to the "don't use" pile. I also decided to toss the Tri State Velo jersey - Carpe Diem sponsored them but it's kind of a current team.
This left me with the Carpe Diem jersey from 1997, the Evolution Bicycles / Vantage Motors jersey.
The Missus said I really ought to wear that one. The bike shop, Mike's garage, Carpe Diem, it's all there.
Okay, so be it.
A few of the Expo guys haven't been racing long enough to have Retro Jerseys, and the few that have didn't have stuff that fit or they tossed them out. I gathered some other jerseys, threw them all in the wash (they'd been stored for about 10-15 years), and called it a day.
The Missus asked what shorts I ought to wear. We never had team shorts for the 1997 Carpe Diem Racing team. I briefly thought about wearing some plain Verge shorts but then I realized, you know, when a pro wears a "special" jersey (like the Leader's Jersey, a national team jersey, or a championship jersey) they wear their normal team shorts. I decided that I'd wear the standard Expo shorts and shoe covers.
I decided to clean my drivetrain right before the race, so about 10 minutes (it's been a while, else it'd have taken 5 minutes) of scrubbing and I got most of the well-rooted grease off of the chain, chainrings, and the pulleys. The training clincher's cassette got clean too but I didn't bother with the race wheel's cassette.
We headed over to the venue a bit tight on time. In order to avoid my car-queasy tendencies I drove and the Missus pinned my number. I'd already filled out a release and written the check, I had my USAC license, so I'd be legal to race.
The Missus used a lot of pins at my request.
Once at the venue the normal bantering grew a bit. We all grinned and pointed at everyone's ancient kits, looking for the genuine pro stuff, trading stories on what this was or that was. I figure the best one was Wade's genuine Swedish National Team jersey for Worlds, complete with a patch sewn over the then-illegal sponsor's name on the side panels.
I lent teammate Joel the Moldavian Saeco jersey, MM the Tom Steels jersey, and that was that. SOC wore his Italian Saeco jersey (Commesso? Cipollini?). If I'd worn my plain (and not true pro, it was from a store) Saeco jersey we'd have had three Saeco "teammates". Nonetheless I felt the obligation to fly the Carpe Diem colors.
The larger-than-normal group lined up for the start. One rider that barely made it was my friend Kevin from Colorado. He'd accompanied me to Interbike in 2009-2011, and I got to train at altitude in 2010 with him. He flew in earlier in the afternoon (to Rhode Island, where he's actually going), came to the race, bought an annual license, paid his entry, and started the race.
As he put it it was the most expensive race he's ever done.
We got the full Retro Jersey presentation as guys lined up. I saw some good ones, some standard ones, and some that I didn't recognize until I examined the pictures and read the logos.
With that we were off. The pace went pretty high straight from the gun, but with almost no wind and a large field, the group stayed together. Breaks never got more than a quarter or half lap ahead, and the field always stayed strung out in pursuit.
I settled into a nice groove. The bike felt like it pedaled a bit easier, perhaps because of the sparkling drivetrain. The tires felt good - I haven't used the Stingers in a bit but with the rear tire fixed for last Sunday's race I got to use them here.
I'd also gotten into a rhythm with the cornering. Sunday's 7 turn course acted as a good warm up for the cornering at The Rent and so I felt really comfortable and fluent as soon as we got going.
The pace seemed manageable with the larger group. I struggled hard out of Turn 3 every lap, easing only as we went by the start/finish area, but without any wind to hurt me elsewhere I could recover on the short bits between Turn 1-2 and Turn 2-3.
I usually start looking for lapcards way too early so I told myself to hold off. Wait for it, wait until I really need to see them, but don't look too early.
Round and round we went. I seemed to rotate to different positions within the 6 or 8 riders at the back. I wasn't thinking moving up - my efforts after Turn 3 meant that I couldn't keep pushing else I'd be cooked for the next Turn 3.
I saved and waited and saved and waited.
One lap someone really put in a big move, a huge, huge move that totally strung out the field. I gritted my teeth and waited for the elastic to jerk me forward.
Wowsers. Really strung out.
I managed to hang on but now I needed the lap cards. The next time around I looked.
Lap cards to the right.
2 to go.
With the pace so high, the first 15 guys in single file, and struggling at that, I realized that it'd take me a good 2-3 laps to move up. Since I had about 1.9 laps left when I figured out what that "2" stood for I started moving up hard, right away. I tried to go hard before Turn 3, knowing that out of Turn 3 is the hardest/fastest bit.
Unfortunately the gaps started opening up in front of me, my punishment for tailgunning. The front still screamed forward, single file, while the field disintegrated behind.
Turn 3, coming up on the bell.
I jumped to get across one gap, then another, and then it was one lap to go.
I still pushed hard, trying to get up there. I wasn't sure if I'd have sprint left but it was worth trying. The riders weren't too tight, some were sitting up, others were content to sit on the wheels.
Last turn, last lap.
I guess I managed to get inside the front 15 spots before my legs started to go. Two of the four riders in front of me blew up exiting the turn, and that left a pretty big gap for me to close just to get into the sprint.
I pulled the ripcord, checked left and right, and moved to the side.
I felt good, all considering. My legs weren't cramping. I wasn't going cross-eyed from effort. I actually felt kind of good. I mean, okay, it helped that I didn't actually sprint, but the race seemed... manageable.
I did a cool down lap and rolled over to the Missus. We gathered our stuff, packed up the car (the lack of wind meant mosquitoes were out - I got bitten about six times in a few minutes), and headed out for a post-race social.
I really liked the Retro Jersey thing. It's a great balance of fun and seriousness, letting riders express themselves (and showing a bit of history) while still maintaining the "we're here to train by racing" mentality.
So another set of Rents done. I really like these races. Depending on my fitness level I can either hang on (or not) or, if I'm feeling a bit more frisky, I can make moves and try things that I'm not necessarily ready to try in a weekend race. If I attack or bridge or something and blow up, it's okay. I've had my share of 2 or 4 lap races but I've also had some races where I rode really hard and did some good work.
I've never won an A race and I've never gotten into a successful break. I guess those are two things to work for in 2013.
Until then, though, to all a good night.