So normally a race report involves me racing and reporting about the race. In this case I couldn't race because my back was bothering me. I'd essentially collapsed Thursday - it was awkward because Junior was already in the car, ready to go to day care, and I decided to move some stuff out of the way before we left. That's when I collapsed. It was a bit tricky driving the car to day care but luckily it's just a mile away from the house. I rested for a good half hour in day care with Junior walking all over around me, then I managed to get home.
I spent Friday on the living room floor - the Missus put a pack of diapers on a chair, Junior was playing with a package of wipes, and I spent the day mostly at eye level with Junior. By the evening I could sort of pick him up so my back was getting a bit better. Nonetheless I decided against racing the next day, just to allow my fragile back to strengthen a bit.
Saturday I intentionally left my bike behind because I knew that if I brought it I'd be tempted to race. Instead I brought a camera. Unpacking the car in the parking lot I felt that quiver in my back and I realized that I had to be careful. The stroller helped as I didn't have to carry Junior other than to put him into it and take him out. Any other times I carried Junior I wanted to carry him and felt okay doing it.
I arrived at the course a bit late so I barely got settled before the Cat 3-4 race lined up. With conflicted races the field wasn't that big but the racers there all wanted a piece of the action. The race promised some fireworks.
Lots of Expo red and black.
The race ended up coming down to Expo versus everyone else. Usually "everyone else" gives you bad odds but Expo had a good 40% of the field so the numbers actually favored Expo. In a way I felt sorry for the others. I've been on both sides of the numbers, having lined up with 10 or even 15 teammates in some races, and in other races watching another team line up 10 or 12 teammates (and wondering what I'd do to beat them).
The Expo racers are active for the most part, willing to work, willing to see the wind, so at least it wasn't totally negative.
Moves went from the beginning.
Junior and one of his babysitters.
Junior spent the race mainly with some very enthusiastic babysitters. He enjoyed his first experience with the grass on the ground and tried to walk on the paved sidewalk. Pops managed to avoid having Junior experience his first skinned knee. Pops isn't ready to deal with that yet.
If you're outnumbered in a field then a good move is to make moves. Inevitably you'll attract a rider or two from the "big team" and then the rest of the team will block, helping you. Biker's Edge racer Eric made such a move, drawing SOC, but the rest of the field brought them back.
Dave trying to launch Stan.
Of course the numerically superior team ought to make moves too. Dave, the team cheerleader, rode in support of the selected leaders for the day. Stan, the overall leader of the Cat 3-4 Series, naturally qualified as a leader. When a move went up the road Dave tried to launch Stan but the others wouldn't let such an obvious move go.
Finally the field basically split. In a larger field it'd have been a break, but in this race it was more of a split. It appears that Dave, after doing some work, eased off while sitting towards the front of the group. Everyone else eased off too and suddenly a gap opened. Eric made a good move to join the front and the group immediately started working.
Jeff W, center, after a supreme bridge effort.
Two riders knew the move when they saw it and made supreme efforts to bridge - Jeff W (Devil's Gear) and Jeff M (Expo). Others tried too but they didn't make it. Although Expo's Jeff made it across quickly, having seen the split early on, Jeff W waited until the gap was something like 30 seconds before going clear of the field. The gap was big enough that I didn't bother taking pictures because a solo rider in pain doesn't look impressive - it just looks like a rider off the back.
Of course at some point Jeff W suddenly looked like he was going to bridge and I got so excited I forgot about taking pictures. Oops.
Jeff W at the front
He bridged just before the end of the race so he set about working for his teammate in the break.
Expo Jeff, biding his time.
As a spectator I couldn't see what happened on the last lap but inevitably an Expo rider crossed the line first, and incredibly it was Jeff. He'd done a perfect race, bridged to the winning move and then waited patiently in the sprint to win.
Expo Jeff winning, barely.
Eric's excellent helmet cam footage below:
It becomes obvious how hard everyone went on that last lap. Jeff W sets it up, Expo Lance drills it for Stan, and then it becomes a free for all. Expo Jeff played it perfectly and the late jump gave him a well earned win.
Junior in the feed zone.
For Junior it was time to eat. The whole event distracted him so much that he didn't fuss for about 3 hours before he wanted to eat (normally it's 90 minutes) and he didn't think about a diaper change until I changed him.
With lunch out of the way it was time for the 4-5 race.
Expo Dave at the front.
With so much focus on the 3-4 race the two Expo riders in the 4-5 race were cooked. Dave and Lance tried to play but they'd given everything in the 3-4 race in support of their teammates.
One active team - Cycling Concepts.
One guy that's been trying solo moves at Plainville and Bethel launched yet another attack with 5 to go. Cycling Concepts Mike is a tall, lanky rider unafraid of the wind.
Another move, this time by Cycling Concepts Mike.
I knew about his 10 lap escapade at Bethel, ended at the bottom of the hill on the last lap. I hoped that he could pull this one off.
Junior wondering if Mike can make it.
Mike at the bell - it looks good.
Mike took the bell with a decent gap but the field really ramped it up. Expo Lance was one guy trying to close the gap hard, a final effort for him on this double race day.
Mike holds off a hard charging field.
Mike managed to hold off the field, throwing his bike as insurance just in case. The picture doesn't do the speed justice - he won by maybe a tenth of a second. Had the race been another 100 meters I think it'd have been a different story.
A better fitting hat.
I worried about Junior and tried to put on one of my caps. It's a bit scary that my hat fits him better than a hat he wore a few months ago.
With this first very sunny race out of the way Junior and I headed home. I wished I could have raced but I also knew that this was the smarter thing to do. I had to be good for Bethel in a promoting way and I couldn't risk that for my own selfish reasons.