The last @TuesdayTheRent for 2013. It's been a weird year, a good half dozen of the weeks were canceled due to rain, sometimes halfway through the first race of the evening. I missed the one race where the TV crews showed up so that was a bummer.
I came to this, the last race, with a good race under my legs. Two weekends prior I'd been shelled in 9 minutes at a yet-to-be-blogged-about race in Rocky Hill. It's a great course but it requires a minimum level of fitness that I simply didn't have.
Last weekend, with my 9 minute race fresh in memory, I lowered my expectations accordingly. I was so pessimistic that instead of doing the M45+ race I did the M35+ race. The latter is almost always much harder than the M45+, but with four teammates doing the M35+ and none doing the M45+ I decided that if I'm going to race 10 minutes I'd rather race with my teammates.
Well, ends up I made it for the length of the race.
Of course this meant that I readjusted my sights for Tuesday. I figured I could make it for the whole race as long as no crazies came out swinging hard, like no pros intent on doing a max 10 minute effort or whatever.
What I didn't do, and I haven't done in a couple years, is do an easy ride on Monday. I focus on doing a ride the day before a race but with Tuesdays I've treated them as just a training ride. That meant not riding the day before because, well, it's not a race.
Sunday, at Bob Beals, my heart rate could soar. Normally I'm in trouble at about 164 bpm but in that race I launched my sprint at 172 bpm. I rarely see those kinds of heart rates so I figured the same would happen today on Tuesday.
The problem was that my heart rate just wouldn't hit 160 bpm. I realized that I lacked elasticity, that my heart couldn't zoom like normal, and I think it's because I hadn't ridden the day before.
With that let's see what happened in the race.
I lined up with five Central Wheel women.
Last year we had a retro-jersey thing going but this year it seemed like everyone wanted "just another Rent" after all the cancellations earlier in the summer.
Patrolling the front.
It's easy to fall into the domestique role, and I fell into it pretty quickly - on the first lap I started marking moves. With Todd in the race realistically he'd be the strongest of all of us. I know it's just a training race but after Sunday's success I dropped into the same role as Sunday.
I realize now that if I'd played things a bit differently my race would have turned out differently. Of course that would have involved riding for myself but that's a bit less entertaining than racing for someone else.
Shortly after my first move I couldn't respond to the counter-moves, and bam, that was that.
Getting back in.
After sitting out a couple laps I jumped back in. Normally when I get shelled I'm so cooked that I can't stay with the group. I'll do a lap with them, get shelled, and basically do an easy training ride while getting passed by the same group of riders over and over.
This week I felt fine. I guess my first effort got my heart more elastic. The pace felt pretty sedate, not too hard. Okay, a break had gone, but still, it felt much easier than it did just a couple laps ago.
I sat at the back, tried to make sure I didn't gap off anyone still on the lead lap. I was ready to push hard to close any gap to get whoever behind me back into the group, and I was ready to pull out if my legs started to complain. However I never felt troubled, never had to dig too deep, so I sort of hung out at the back.
When the break lapped the field Todd looked a bit isolated. He had a number of riders to cover and most of them had strong teammates in the field. I was definitely one of the weaker racers in the group and if some of the other teammates did some work it could isolate Todd. Therefore I decided that I'd try to use up my legs before the finish but inside the last 5 laps. This way I could help Todd but not really disrupt the sprint between the break riders.
Wade (obscured) and Aidan attacking up the right.
Sure enough, after we saw 4 to go, two guys attacked hard. Both could push hard, both would work to the finish, and Todd had hesitated and not gone with them.
Wade going clear with Aidan on his wheel.
The Central Wheel ERRACE rider kept the pace up but didn't push it hard enough to close up.
When Wade eased Aidan went even harder. I could see my calling and I went to the front. I pushed to keep Aidan within reach but instead I rode up to him going into the first turn. I kept pulling toward Turn Two but a couple CCNS guys took off. Obviously Aidan had made his move to set up a countermove by those two.
The field streams by. Todd is alert now.
What I didn't realize is that Todd had gotten on my wheel when I pulled that very short pull after I caught Aidan. He went with the main countermove but couldn't go with the CCNS duo. Eventually the duo would finish clear of the break/group combination.
After the race I went back to our "race base" but the Missus and Junior weren't there. I turned and Junior had spotted me. They'd been closer to the finish line and I'd ridden past them.
Junior running to Pops.
Junior checking to see if I'll make him take his hand off the tire.
I decided it would be okay at that moment.
Ah yes. Bike racing is nice and all but seeing Junior's face light up is great.