"Well, the first week I just sat at the back. I didn't know how hard it'd be so I just saved as much as I could. I think I can be more active though. I don't want to just sit at the back, I want to be involved a bit more. Maybe be up near the front more and stuff like that."
Start. Most of the field, it was a small race tonight.
I dislike small fields. It's depressing, as a promoter, and it's difficult, as a racer. Less shelter, less room for error (meaning if I go too hard somewhere there are fewer people to pass me before I get shelled), and overall it exposes my weakness (lack of FTP) and doesn't allow me to maximize my strengths (hiding from the wind).
So when only a couple dozen riders lined up I felt a bit dejected. A few more riders rolled up late but still, it wasn't a big group. I counted the local pro (just one of them), the guy that won Raritan P12 and Somerville Cat 2s in the last two days, a former M35 Canadian Cross champ (okay, he's my teammate), a couple Cat 1s, a bunch of Cat 2s… yeah.
The antagonists getting ready at the front.
Of course those that could got to the front, looking to put down the pain early. I thought about what the Missus asked me on the way to the race, and I thought about my answer. I decided that I'd go with whatever big moves, no matter what it took, and try to hang on.
Two to the left attacking hard.
I saw the pro and a Cat 1 go for it. A few others followed, but I couldn't see them because I was a bit far back. But I knew that the pro would go, the Cat 1 was good for a break, and there were enough guys going up the road that this was the move.
The front group is going away - it's the race and I know it.
I knew that at least two teams would be blocking. I didn't realize it but one of my teammates followed the move. Had I known that I'd have sat in, but I didn't see him and the move was going away so fast I had to go as soon as I could find room to move.
The view as I launched.
After Turn 3 (the break went at Turn 2), I launched hard. I launched so hard I hit numbers I haven't seen all year. 1266w jump. 1100w for 10 seconds. 750w for 30 seconds.
Going past two guys, on the way to the front group.
About 15 seconds in, maybe 20 seconds, I haven't checked, I rolled by two guys that weren't quite on. I was starting to realize that I'd gone way too hard but at this point I wasn't going to slam on my brakes so I kept going.
About to bridge at Turn One.
It took me until just after Turn 1 to bridge. I got some satisfaction when I looked back. The break had a solid 1/3 lap lead on the field and this was only the 3rd lap of the race.
I knew I'd gone too deep and the only thing that would save me is if they went sort of steady for, I dunno, the next 30 minutes.
The break goes hard out of Turn Three and I'm done.
Yeah, right. About 30 seconds later the front guys punched it out of Turn 3 and I was ejected like there was no tomorrow.
Waving to Junior and the Missus.
I couldn't get back into the field, nothing. I was absolutely and totally cooked. I spent a number of laps waving to Junior, who looked very worried the first time I saw him. I must have been making faces and stuff, plus I wasn't going "bike racers very fast" like I normally do.
More waving, this time he was clapping.
I felt better when I saw him clapping. That was better than looking at me all worried and stuff.
Cooked and unable to do much of anything.
My numbers were pretty pathetic. I had nothing.
Lance, good guy and former teammate, rolled by.
Lance, who helped immensely at the Bethel Spring Series as well as the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series, lapped me a few times, like everyone else. Of course the first thing he said when he lapped me was to get on his wheel so he could pull me along.
I asked him if he was off the front. He was, and in fact I think he was 4th on the road. So I tried to repay him for all the laps he rode at the front for me, all the hours he marshaled, all the hours he swept and brushed and plowed at Bethel, for the help in troubleshooting some of the small engine problems we had on various Sweep Days.
Pulling for Lance.
I couldn't pull him much, just 3/4 of a lap, but I tried to make it count by pulling into the wind, hard, and sitting as high up as I could so I could give him shelter. Seems a bit sad that that's all I could do for him, but there will be other races, other opportunities to try to give something back.
Lance on my wheel.
The long shadows make me look tall but Lance towers over me.
All I can do.
I couldn't pull more than that and I had to tell him to go after a much-too-short pull.
The Missus asked me what I was doing, circling at 10 or 12 mph. It's a sign of how slowly I was riding when a spectator can ask me a detailed question and I could give a detailed answer. I told her I'd do a sprint and stop. I wanted to do a sprint with a clear course. Then the break lapped me (they had lapped the field twice I think so it was a different set of people) so I decided to do my sprint that lap and make it a bridge as much as a sprint.
Before I jumped, that's the break ahead of me.
This is exiting Turn 3 so just the straight plus the curve and then the finish line. I wanted to bridge by the finish line. The break was maybe 2/5 of the way to the line.
I did what I could on the jump. It wasn't great but it was okay.
Bridge at the finish line, sort of.
I bridged shortly after the finish, coasting up on them as I closed the last few meters. I went straight at Turn 1 when they went left - I knew I was done and made a U-turn and found the Missus and Junior playing in the field.
Junior jumping up and down.
With Junior so happy to see me it was hard to be upset about my race. I felt disappointed, of course, but I took away the one positive - I could read the race perfectly. I knew the move to follow, I just couldn't follow it.
So I played with Junior, caught up with friends, and then packed up and headed home.