Mar 12 2007
Guess you could say this was my first race with the big boys. But 1-2-3 field though it may have been, a training race the second week in March is not where anyone’s going to lay down real fireworks. And in my current condition, that’s a good thing. I had figured, with a certain Kephalonian temptress out of town, I might actually get some sleep the night before. Not so. Plus, daylight savings time descended on me, unawares. Thus I was forced to scratch my ride out to the event.
This was also my first race with honest-to-goodness teammates since college. Joe, Marvin and Mike were present and all much faster than I. Joe brought an IBC jersey that I managed somehow to squeeze into (birthday = cake + free beer = heavier than last week). It did, however, clash with the Dartmouth shorts I wore to commemorate the ski team’s NCAA Championship. We did some warm-up, and I went to the line hoping only, for like the first time since I started this business, just not to get dropped.
The course is simple. If you can’t infer it from this map, I really can’t help you. Short loop, no major obstacles. 40 laps. Ready, set, go. (Actually, I think they said “riders roll out”). I managed not to fall over clipping in; so far, so good. Things didn’t get up to speed until 37 laps to go (never seen those particular lap cards come up before). It was also sweet to have people ride in a straight line. I think I saw one little bump, and it resolved as if it had never happened. Not even yelling or anything.
It was actually pretty easy to hang on. Don’t get me wrong, 1h 17m at 25.5 mph is a good deal faster than I’ve gone in a while, but with such a large field (60? 70?) and such a non selective course, it was a lot like surfing. And believe me, when I came off a wave, I knew it. Not “right to the back and glued to Alain Bondue’s wheel” bad, but at two points in the race, I lost probably 30-40 spots in a matter of seconds.
The original goal was “stay within sight of the front of the field”. That was not so hard, even on prime laps, so it then became “stop losing spots in the corners” (recurring problem for me). The solution (as anyone who’s not a wuss can tell you) is to lean the bike and not touch the brakes. I think I had it down in college, but I seem have lost it since then. I still feel real uncomfortable cornering with a guys on both sides of me.
Tactically, there really wasn’t much I could do from 30 spots down. At one point, a group went away directly in front of me, with no IBC riders in it, but there was simply no way I could accelerate to follow as it formed. Standing up just turned my legs to goo, so I just sat there and watched it go, the first time I can ever remember letting a break go. Mike and Marvin got in another move later, and I managed to get to the front and ride slowly for a few seconds. But that was about it.
Coming into the finish, I didn’t even attempt to contest. Not even for position. Honestly, maintaining an even pace was doable, but anything above that…let’s just say I’ll need to work on my accelerations. Joe took 4th, which must have meant he went pretty fast. It also meant prize money, which he insisted on sharing with the team. Sweet.