May 10 2007
Normally, I sit around before races and shut up. Don’t say much, and just check out the field (unless there’s someone I know, then I chat them up). But not so much before the Williams Crit this past Sunday. I had just pedaled over from my parents’ house (about a mile away), and was chilling by the start line, when I overheard some double-registered dude talking about how was gonna skip the Cat 3 race because all the money was in the pros.
I’d let that slide, but then he started whining about upgrade points, and so I was like “And that’s the only reason you race? Money and upgrade points?” And he was like “Well, I drove three and a half hours to get here, might as well have something to show for it”, to which I replied “I find your lack of spirit disturbing.” Then he went all Ricki Lake on me, being like “you don’t even know me, I train year round in nothern Vermont” yadda yadda yadda.
I stopped my part in the discussion shortly thereafter, because I guess he was getting pissed, and somehow, I figured the officials would turn it into a way to fine me. I guess there’s no real point to this preface, per se, I guess it’s just sort of a disturbing to line up against people who see racing as a means to an end like that. After all, there are much more direct routes to upgrade points and prize money than training year round…
Anyway, true to his word, he skipped the 3 race, which was, like all the races at Williams, pretty lightly populated. It’s a shame, too, since the course is real fun (kinda) – up the hill, down the hill through some sick twists, back up the hill kinda easy, then a 90 degree turn and uphill hard, before repeating. A lot of people say it’s like a cyclocross race, and you have to race it like one. Since most of my ‘cross races involve three laps of sprinting and then holding on for dear life, I really can’t understand that.
Pace felt decent to me, so it probably was slow. No one wanted to lead the descent, which I found incomprehensible, especially with at least two nippy little juniors in the field (juniors are annoyingly good at bike handing, ush.) So as little kinda attacks went, the field thinned down from 24 to 13. Basically, the pattern was suffer up the hill, recover position down it. I think I attacked one time when it was really slow, and immediately regretted it because I am just not in any kind of shape for that.
At about 8 laps to go, I started to get that thing I was having toward the end of Jiminy, where you get sloppy about maintaining position. So I softpedalling a bit on the front, and came through the next downhill 3rd or 4th wheel. Of course, things got slow again after that (Murphy’s Law, since I’d just corrected my pack position) and it was all bunched out and wide. I got boxed in somewhere I should have known not to be, and someone attacked on the otherside of the road, putting me instantly at the back, right before the 90-degree turn and the real uphill.
Each lap, I’d been moshing through the hill in the big ring. I was dropped at Jiminy using a similar gear, and I’m thinking maybe, now that I have expensive parts, I should have more faith in the front derailluer. Anyway, I lost a bunch of space on that climb, and just couldn’t pull it back together. So I finished alone, off the back, as the last person not to be lapped, same as the last time I did this race, in 2003.