April 17, 2010
Background: Coming into this weekend, I’d crashed in 3 of my last 7 races. 4 if you count rolling over another rider’s legs in the VCU Crit. In the last two road races, I watched two winning breaks ride away from me on downhills, never to be seen again. Enough was enough.
But first… About 10 minutes before his race, Matt rolled into the staging area. “Nick, you know about bikes….” His derailleur cable had snapped inside the shifter. No way to fix it now. Matt was leading the conference going into this race. If he didn’t finish, he risked losing that title. I took my bike out of the car. “Can you ride this?” We tried to swap his pedals. The left came loose, but the right wouldn’t budge. Shit! We took the right pedal from Kyle’s bike. Matt made it to the start line and we crossed our fingers. Somehow, it worked, and Matt finished fourth, locking up the title and raising a big middle finger to Murphy’s Law. It may have scored me some Karma points, too.
Road Race: I though I might try and get a good starting position to make my job easier. I didn’t:
Oh well, the race was easy until “the climb.” I started chasing at the bottom. I used the whole road, passing rider after rider, but there were still people in front of me. I kept chasing, trying to ignore the little voice in my head saying, “your lungs are exploding.” Apparently I wasn’t alone, as I could see that familiar, near-death, “it can’t still be uphill” look on every face I saw.
Eventually, the blood returned to my head and I realized the situation; I was in a group of 5 at the front: three Navys, one App, and me. We had a gap. We started a paceline. By the end of the first lap we had a minute. This looked good.
There was a KOM prime on the second lap; I watched as Alex from Navy just rode away, slowly but surely putting time into the rest of us. His attack held, and he soloed to a well deserved victory. Meanwhile, the other Navy riders and I spent time chasing the App rider who was trying to bridge. We caught him with a couple miles to go, and the race for second took shape. We were finishing with a tailwind, which probably means something to someone. I know nothing about sprinting or tactics, so I just kinda rode my bike, launching a few half-assed attacks that went nowhere. I was on the front at 200m, which gave me the opportunity to watch the other three come flying past me as I settled for fifth. Still, at least I kept both wheels on the ground…
That’s all for now. More later. Probably.