Note: This is an older entry and is part of my transitioning over from wordpress to blogger, so the timing may seem strange. -'holic
This weekend wrapped up my first foray into the local club racing scene. It consisted of a five-event series that included a time-trial, a graded road race, a hill climb event, a handicapped road race, and a kermese, with points awarded for placings in each event. They were all relatively short races – great for getting my feet wet. I ended up in E grade (for which I’ve been called a burglar a few times now) because when I got to the first event, I only knew one other person on the roster, and he was faster than me so I told the handicapper to put me in with him. As it turns out, he moved up to C grade, and I stuck back in E. Oh well – first event, I’ll start out low and work my way up.
I learned a ton in these races, and ended up winning my grade and coming out second in the overall points race (which even had a cash prize!). The last race was the most interesting – by then, it was just me and one other guy, #77, left in the running, and everyone knew it. I was one point down on 77, and I’m pretty sure he would be able to beat me flat out, so I’d have to race smart. It seemed that most of the others were content to sit back and let us duke it out. As a result, nobody wanted to work on the front, so it was a pretty slow race, but a rare occasion where I could concentrate on the overall series win and not worry too much about that particular race. The best part was that a few guys I race with during the week came up to me during the race and offered to help me out!
I spent most of the race making sure that I covered 77. He made a few breaks, but I was always in a position to cover them. He spent a lot of time up front – probably to his detriment, but I wasn’t going to tell him to peel off. I took a few turns on the front, but for long periods nobody would roll through, so I’d just drop down to a comfortable pace to make sure I didn’t blow myself. Before too long though one of the guys I knew would come up to relieve me and make sure I didn’t waste myself.
As we came within a few hundred meters of the last turn, one of the guys pulled up on my right alongside me and told me to hop on – time to make a break! As he pulled by, there was another guy on his wheel that I assumed was going to go with us, so I waited for him to pass. As he did, he kind of slowed down and moved in front of me to join the front of the group – apparently he wasn’t interested in making the break! I had already started to accelerate, and he slowed, and as he tried to cross in front of me and I tried to cross behind him, out tires met up and let out an awful zipping hiss sound! I tried to pull back to the left without over-correcting, and my front tire kind of bounced off his and jerked left. That sent a wobble through my body, and when it hit my right foot, my shoe nearly flew out of my pedal! I thought for sure I was going to eat some pavement, but somehow I let the bike buck and twitch underneath me while my body stayed on course. After a few seconds, the bike settled back underneath me, and I was clear of the path and just a few meters behind my leadout!
I accelerated, and paused briefly to apologize to the guy who’s wheel I hit. I had so much adrenaline at that point that making the jump to the break seemed almost effortless! I bridged up to his wheel and slowed to catch my breath. A quick look back confirmed that no one was able to follow, and we had a few meters on the group with not too far to go! 77 must have gotten closed in by the pack, or I’m sure he would’ve gone with us. I went around the other guy to take a pull and yelled ‘we’ve got a gap!’ as I passed by. We took turns taking pulls into that last turn, and when we rounded the corner the finish line came into view about 800m down the road.
I glanced back to make sure the pack wasn’t overtaking us, gritted my teeth, and started time trialing for the line. After a couple hundred meters I looked back again, only to see that I had dropped my leadout! But the group was still far behind that, and looked like they had given up. I turned back and continued sprinting with everything I had for that last few hundred meters – I kept looking back, expecting the bunch to come rumbling up, but they never did, and I crossed the finish line completely alone. Thinking back, I would’ve had plenty of time for a victory salute, but instead I finished like it was a neck and neck sprint – I’ll have to work on that salute so next time I can make for a good photo!