Yet again I'm sitting in my living room watching TV with my girls after a weekend of tough racing. We're watching Kung Fu Panda II. It's not as funny as the first one. More drama, less funny. But I love watching their facial expressions.
|Instructions at the CAT4 Crit start.|
Two weeks ago Star Bridges sent me a long message detailing how he'd already booked us a room in Covington for the Newton Co. Omnium. His plan was designed to pass muster with my priority list by having us leave at 2PM on Saturday for the evening crit, spend the night and do the road race in the morning. Back by 2PM Sunday. Of course I hooked up. I invited Stephen Sisk to join us because he said he didn't have any family at home this weekend anyway. I got to see my daughter Ellie graduate in her Karate class and then we had lunch. Star and Stephen met me at my house and we headed south.
The CAT4 crit was at 5:40pm. Star and I lined up for it and Stephen took some great pictures of the suffering. It was almost 90 degrees at the start but fortunately the clouds rolled in and gave us some relief. The clouds were a precursor to what would come in the morning.
The race started on a hill. A hill we had to race up every lap. It made the race tough for sure. The hill would slowly pitch up and then when you got to the turn at the top it kicked up one more time.
There were constant attacks on that hill and I even tried my hand at a few. It hurt. I burned a few too many matches doing it but that was my plan since the Athens Twilight race. Since then I decided that whenever I race CAT4 I'm going to attack or otherwise stay on the front, if I can, to avoid a crash.
The winner for the day made a great move. With 3 laps to go he was at the front for the climb. At the turn he sprinted to the top and then hammered over the apex and down the back side hill. Star said he had a big gap within no time. I missed the move completely. The guys on the front at the time evidently didn't have the legs to go with him and by the time anyone could mount a chase he was out of sight. Smooth move.
If I'd known there was a guy off the front I'd have wasted what energy I had left chasing him for Star. As it was I just sat in and tried to survive for the sprint. I couldn't see Star in front of me when we climbed the hill on the last lap so I figured he'd find my wheel on the outside for the sprint.
I never heard him say my name so I stuck to a rider's wheel from Reality Bikes. We flew down the hill and started the sprint up to the finish line. I couldn't come around the Reality guy and lost some heart when I saw all the riders to the inside going faster than me to the line. I did the best sprint I could but ended up 20th. I was kind of dismayed. I sprinted so hard it made me light headed so I turned around and rode down to the wheel pit tent, passing back over the finish line which you're not supposed to do when we have timing chips. Stephen was there to tell me what a good job I did. I like Stephen.
As we talked I started feeling sick. I needed to go sit down so we went back to the van and I did just that. I poured some ice water on my head and began to immediately feel better. The guys took really good care of me.
We packed up the van and found some great food for carb loading at Mellow Mushroom.
I didn't sleep very well, being away from home I never do, but I tried sleeping in my Hincapie compression tights and they worked well. My legs felt fresh when we got up. It was going to be a good day to race...and then we looked outside. It was raining... hard.
Oh well. We're here. And breakfast is waiting.
|The Butcher, The Baker, The Pancake Maker|
We all stared for a while at the pancake machine. Maybe we're out of touch but none of us had ever seen a pancake machine. I had three. They were delicious. It took 90 seconds to make one pancake...in case you need to know.
Then we packed the van and headed for our race in the rain. This time all three of us would race the Masters 35+ race at 9:40AM. It was a very depressing scene when we rolled up to the staging area. Lots of soaked volunteers, Cycling Officials, Police officers and cyclists. I deeply appreciate the efforts of all the folks to put on a great race despite the weather. It was very well organized.
The pouring rain made everything harder. We learned the Pro race had been shortened and hoped that ours would be as well. No complaints here. But we prepared for 60 miles anyway. We spotted Sean Philyaw's car on the way in. He raced the CAT4 race and brought home a 9th place finish!
We got ready and rolled up to the staging area in the driving rain. They announced the race would be shortened to 30 miles. Once we started I emptied one of my water bottles and we settled in for a long ride through flooding roads.
As the miles ticked by there were a few attacks that got brought back and my veteran team mate made a simple observation...there were no counter attacks. So he told me the next catch was my time to go. My time came on a long drag of an uphill. Star took me to the front and launched a vicious attack while I rode in his slip stream. As soon as he pulled off I punched it and didn't let up until the top of the hill. When I looked back I had a really great gap so I stood up and kicked it over the top and then got out on the tip of my saddle to see if I could mash my way to a victory. My legs were screaming at me but I channeled my inner Jens Voigt and kept mashing.
When I finally got the nerve to look back I saw two chasers about half way to me. I eased up just a little and when they got there we began rotating. OK, now I'm assured of a podium. I found more energy to drive the pace. Then one of them said he was over his limit and asked for 3 minutes out of the rotation. He promised not to sprint if we made it all the way. Now I saw at least 2nd Place in my future. I was inspired. I took off my glasses and drilled it from the tip of my saddle. Like Cancellara...only not like Cancellara. We rotated for 8 more miles before the tactics of our enemies proved too much and we were caught. At least two of us were very, very disappointed. I was both of them.
We slowed and spread out so the field would find it hard to attack. And that worked! Another tactic I'll file away for the future.
Star made his way up to me and offered some consolation. I told him I wasn't done. Since I just blew myself up I wanted to drive the pace for a while to keep things close for him till the end. Yeah. That only lasted a few miles before I was done. I found my compatriots Star and Stephen sitting in the field waiting for the finish. I put my glasses back on because for the first time in a long while I was getting the gritty spray from the back wheels of the field.
Soon we were flying downhill through some swanky neighborhood. I say swanky because there were roundabouts to navigate and that made me think of some high end subdivisions back home. The pace picked up and we were strung out in a long line snaking through the roads. Any moment I figured we'd be taking a "right" back onto the road where the finish line was. The right we took was a left. The left we took was only 500 meters from the finish line. I must have missed the 1K to go banner. Long story short...Star got 11th and I got 12th. It was the best we could do on such short notice. Stephen lost the group on the run in but finished within seconds of the main field. I was very happy for him. He wasn't real keen on racing in the pouring rain. You'd think he had a titanium vertebrae in his back or something.
|Stephen and Star...dry at last.|
We finished just in time to see the heavy rain stop for a few hours. Nice.
We changed out of our water logged clothes and started talking about the race. Life was so much better once we were through. Warm and dry. Tired and spent. It's actually a great combination. You feel "Alive"!
This Saturday is the Jackson Brevet. I don't know why they call it a brevet because it doesn't meet any of the requirements to be called a brevet but none the less I shall participate. And with 2,000 other riders I'm told. We'll see. And you'll see because I'll take pictures.
Enjoy your Father's Day weekend everyone!