Sunday, June 28, 2009
Salem Fairview Circuit Race Report 6/28. 'I love it when a plan comes together'
I gotta admit, I was pretty nervous about racing this morning. There are some days I wake up and I have this feeling that today is the day I am going to die, or go down hard in flames and guitar riffs or something....This morning was one of those mornings. Sometimes, I heed the warning signs; the shut down highway, deep nervous energy, the crash the previous day..etc, etc. and pull up, pull out, or otherwise find some reason why I can't/won't race. But today, despite all the signs I suited up and lined up. Turned out to be a good thing.
I pushed my way to the front this morning- lined up second row. There were already a bunch of guys there, but, having looked at the course, I new it was going to be hard to get up to the front at the beginning and that with the hill, it was going to be trouble getting stuck behind some of the more portly in our midst. The Capa Pinapple white-kit sucka's showed up in force today- probably because we were racing in their neighborhood. The Capitol Velo dudes were there, it was their race, after all. Plus a bunch of windpower guys. Hammer lined up three: Jamie (aka Southy), Chris and myself. Despite all the presence, none of the Capital guys or the Pinapple guys rode as a team. No organized attacks, no blocking, no chasing. This race was a race of attrition. Just go- who ever has the gas to hold on, gets the glory...Surprising, since it seemed tailor made for an organized team who could tear it up and make us all pay.
The course is 1.9 miles. From the roll out you false flat it till the first right turn, at which point it point upward a bit. I think the total altitude gain is something like 60ft. It then dips and turns, finally committing to a downhill through a neighborhood and some trees. hard right, single file. Headwind straight less than two hundred meters, right again and a long tear in a cross wind for over five hundred meters. The word on the day was 'its easy to under estimate' how long the final straight is. Huh. Wish I'd gotten that nugget before the race.
At a glance, it didn't seem like the hill would be hard enough to make the selection, but looks are deceiving I guess. By about the third lap we were shedding riders and passing them as we lapped them. Turns out the hill decimated the field. Out of the thirty or forty riders, the finishing group was only fifteen strong.
With about five to go, the pack really splintered. What would be the final group collected at the front and pushed on. I was probably twentieth or so when that happened. As the door opened, I jumped across to make the cut. At this point, I was feeling really, really good. So good its a new sensation to feel this good. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, whether its the CERA or the booze, but I'm feeling like I've got a fitness that is just a bit better than the rest...and that means I have a big kick to give at the end. I've always had the super kick, either on the field or on the bike, but not really so much the fitness to unleash it at the end.
At two to go, they rang the prime bell! In an effort to shake up the last two laps. Ironically, this had the effect of slowing the group down as everyone starts marking and waiting for the jump. As we came around the last turn two guys jumped and went for the prime. The rest of us kept them close, but didn't really try to reign them in. When the bell rang again, I moved up to the front on the inside. The big cross wind made the right side great for moving up quickly and easily. By the first turn I was in third. We hit the hill and an unattached rider went hard of the front like Alberto Contador- dark, skinny and fast. A Capitol velo rider did the majority of the pace to bring him back. By the down hill it was pretty evident he was toast. By the last turn he was reeled in. There we were, Capitol velo, unattached and me at the front, in a cross wind with over five hundred meters to go. Capitol freewheeled a bit and nobody swamped us. There was this moment when everything seemed to stand still...This is usually followed by the big organization, the guys with the long legs going to the front and me trying to pick the guy who is going to get second place behind me...I wasn't having it.
Before the race I had this thought that it might go from a long way out. The strong wind would neutralize the packs ability to really control things and that favors the strong single rider. At a long distance nobody is prepared to chase. They all think it wont possibly go from that far out. I thought that maybe if they didn't think about the wind, paused for moment and let me go, I might be able to ring it.
The building at the finish wasn't even in view yet (somewhere beyond the curvature of the earth). While everyone else was looking at each other, I jumped from the front of the pack. Five hundred meters (at least...was it three miles???) to go. I was in the one spot but I just went. 'Screw it'. I kicked as hard as I ever have. Big gap right away. quick glances back and I could see a wind power rider and another shadow pretty close, closing the gap. I snaked across the lane to the right, trying to shake him. I looked under the arm, half a length, closing. I snaked back to the left, trying to shake him from my draft. At five thousand miles I was weakening. Shift up, keep the spin on, keep cranking. Out of the saddle, change the pain from the back of my legs to the front. Back down, drill it, drill it. By three thousand miles out the building is in view and I'm so close I can taste it. Clear road in front of me and if only I can hold this windpower guy off, I'm in the clear. One last wobbly kick and I'm over the line, left arm up...like I've always dreamed.