Fitchburg Longsjo Classic – Report

Jul 6 2005

So the weekend’s action started on Wednesday, for some reason, as the organizers saw fit not to schedule any races on the national holiday on Monday. That’s a little less cash in my pockets, but whatever. Sign-in went according to plan, except that my psuedo-teammates, Rudy Awerbuch and Steve Weller were planning to use disk wheels for the TT?

Excuse me? Disk wheels for a Cat 4 TT? Am I the only man left alive with some sense of shame?

Anyway, next morning, it was off the Best Western parking lot. Steve and I slide our Subarus in at a choice location, and who should pull in next to us but the Sierra Nevada pro team. Suh-weet. Since our crew had start times throughout the day, we spent hours just kicking back and chewing the fat with pro racers and mechanics about racing, The Life and sexually predatory women. We let their wrench borrow our crack pipe (that’s a disk wheel pump adapter, kids) and he tossed us a bunch of free tubes. All in all, a damn good time.

Race didn’t go so well. About 40 minutes before my start, I was ready to rip, but for some reason, they threw me in with the Juniors. Maybe it was too much sun, maybe it was too much humidity, maybe it was the 10 days of drinking beer, eating too much and not riding in Alaska last week, maybe it was the incompetant putz that tried to hold my bike at the start but instead pulled it so far backwards the chain fell off when I started to pedal, but I just couldn’t get it going. Cadence too low, gears too high. I ended up in 27, 1.2 seconds behind Rudy with the Disk Wheel and almost 2 minutes off the pace. Coulda gone worse, though. My boy Rossman finished a few seconds up on my in Cat 3, but they gave him a finish time slower than the Cat 3 Women’s Winner.

We protested this injustice the next day, and the Official’s (typically pig-headed, mad-with-power) response was to claim “it’s pretty much infallible.” No checking how Rossman’s 30 second men did, no taking finish time and subtracting start from it, just “here’s the results sheet. It’s infallible.” Now you know why I crumple my numbers and ride all over the yellow line.

Stage 2 was a circuit race, one hill, maybe 200 feet of climb, then downhill the rest of the way. 3 mile circuit, 18 miles for the Cat 4 men. Sprint up, coast down. Dull Dull dull. Some Harvard kid was entertaining, as he decided to sprint every lap, regardless of whether there was a points prime or not. Lots of pushing and shoving, but no one wanted to eat pave on stage two, so things were mostly clean. My chain popped off (damned Ritchey crankset – see my review) with 2 laps to go, tangled in the cassette, and despite a sweet 15-second repair by neutral support, I never got back on (pace was sick).

Stage 3 was a nice little road race, 48 miles, 12 mile circuit, finish on top of Mt. Wachusett. The climb wasn’t two bad, coming mostly in bursts, followed by flats. Seeing as my GC chances were blown losing 3 minutes the previous day, I rode up front in support of my psuedo team. Steve battled for a lot of points sprints (which were on top of the hill for some reason), and I battled to break 60 on the way back down. Lap one got up to 57.1, but then my pos computer copped out. I think the final time down I might have got it, as we (another rider and I pacelined downhill) hit a speed trap after the descent at 51mph. When I had been doing 57, I hit it at 46. Somehow (my guess is when the Juniors passed us) a guy got clear. Arial Herrman, formerly an ECCC C rider with me back in the day, rode up and asked me if there was a guy up the road. Im like “No way.” He’s like “Im not sure. Im gonna ride up to the ref and check.” So he did, promting 2 other riders to attack because they’re idiots. Turns out there was another guy up the road. An Olympic rower. HONESTLY, USCF, why can’t you put pro atheltes into Cat 2 as soon as they finish cat 5? PLease? Im sick of losing to hockey players, triathletes and rowers. I lack talent and would like to compete against individuals who are likewise disinclined.

Anyway, all hell broke loose when word got out that there was a man away, and I got sucked down to 30th or so with the masses surging to the front (yeah, NOW you want to work). Being out of position cost me on the climb, and I ended up in the first straggler group, 5 guys, 3 of which refused to work because they had men up the road and the other rider in the group had been a GC contender. So it was me and this hapless fellow, trading pulls past 3 wheelsuckers. Tactics are a bitch. When we finally hit the REAL climb (not part of the circuit), I got trounced, and ground my way up in 39-27. I caught like three dudes at the line, though, so that was pretty hot; still, I was a ways back. Rudy did manage a phat finish that pulled him up to 14th on the GC. Solid.

On to the crit. Damn, I love crits. This one was .9 miles, tilted slightly uphill, with one sweeping 180 and two 90s at the other end. Mostly nontechnical, no real chance of a break. I rode (again) at the front, which was easy because the pace was pretty low (for a crit). What wasnt easy was getting to the front, since the guy in front of me (GC leader) couldnt clip in at the line, and then the next guy I got behind (some shmoe) also couldn’t clip in off the line.

I was trying to set up steve for a few sprints, and finally got my chance on prime number 3 (of 7). Coming down the back stretch I hit the front, and opened a (small) gap through the corners (yeah bike handling). Then, noting that Steve was not directly behind me, I jumped at 300-350 to go, looking to make the fast men behind me work and pull him up. About 75-50 from the line, I ran out of gas, and 4 guys shot by me: the Green Jersey, the other Green Jersey (we had two that day; so much for Official’s Infallibility), some other fast guy, and Steve, clinging to their rear wheels.

Despite (or because of) the relatively low pace, there was lots of shoving. I am a wide little dude (170lbs at 5’8″), so I’m all for a little argy-bargy. But lining up for the first 90 corner on the backstretch, there was some serious clumping/pinching. A guy on the outside curb lost his balls and twiched in; the resulting effect was like those little steel speheres on strings you see on investment bankers’ desks, and I was the end ball. I could have leaned back against the guy who hit me, but there was space inside, so why not take the bump rather than risk piling up the field? Well, because unbeknownst to me, there was someone halfwheeling me. He paid the price, and went crashing into my rear wheel, taking a few spokes with him. I was hammering to regain position, but Steve past me and said “dude, take a lap; you’ve got no spokes.” Untrue. I still had 19 spokes (of an original 24) and the wheel was still straight. Not shabby.

Neutral support was (again) awesome, and they shot me back out into field (about 80 positions down) with a nice new Campy Eurus. Good wheel, that Eurus. I Robbie McEwened my way back through the field, got the front, chased down the final break, and was swallowed on the bell lap. I grabbed the wrong wheels twice, and ended up back in 25th or so. Now, why in the hell every Cat 4 wants to sprint, I don’t know. Guys, there are no points for 24th place. If you’re out of position, just let it go. Someone’s going to get hurt when people go head down-elbows out in mid-pack. I cruised over for god knows what place, and called it a wrap. Now back to Colorado.

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