…the obligatory race report.
I came into this weekend unsure about my form. My winter training was going good until mid-February, when a series of colds/flus really knocked me back. I couldn’t train through it and finally just had to lay off and let myself get better. I’d been back to training consistently for a couple weeks when I did Hillsboro-Roubiax – for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try racing with the Masters, considering my new age category. HAH! Team Mack layed down the law, and I was in difficulty from the first mile. I got unhitched 5 times in the first two laps but somehow managed to catch back on – I think more out of stubborn stupidity than anything else. Last lap they ditched me for good – see if I play with you guys anymore! With the Tilles cancellation I had another month to try to get back on form, and in the last week or so I’ve felt pretty good.
I’m no sprinter, so I’m always looking to get in a break. Early in the Carondelet race Shawn (winner of my winter gear masher award, see earlier post) gets away with Nolan and a Gateway guy. I dread the thought of trying to maintain a rotation with Shawn for a whole hour, but it looks like a good group. When teammate Craig jumps to bridge, I know it will be a good group and I go with him – we get there, but the effort puts me in the red and I can’t slip into the rotation. As soon as I’m in the break I’m dropping out of it. No problem – the first breakaway never succeeds. HAH! They stick it. Two more attempts to bridge see me blowing before the halfway mark, and I know I’m not gonna have a good day. I settle in and try to stay near the front, and I start feeling better in the last few laps. Patrick gave me a splendid wheel on the last lap to get me in striking distance of a good finish, but I muff it by trying to launch around him on the wrong side and that’s it. With a pack finish, I start looking for redemption in the TT.
I love the Greensfelder TT. It’s not that I don’t hurt as much as others, or that “the wall” doesn’t terrify me as much, or that I don’t question my sanity while perched at the start line. It’s just that I love TT’s, and I love hill climbs – what can be better than a TT hill climb? Two years ago I did the course in 6:07, but my time slipped to 6:09 last year when a storm came through on race day and littered the course with wet leaves and branches. This time conditions could not have been more ideal, so I was thinking maybe I could beat 6 minutes. I didn’t make any mistakes on the descent and felt like I had a good rhythm on the climb but had a little difficulty getting back up to speed on top. Once I did I did the rest of the course about as good as I could’ve but crossed the line at 6:08. I was pretty disappointed because I figured with the good course conditions the winning time would be well under 6 minutes – I didn’t see much chance my time would crack the podium. As it turned out, the winning time was 6 minutes flat, and my time put me in a 3-way tie for 5th place, so I got a 1/3 share of a $15 payout – woo hoo! By this time it’s pretty clear to me that I’m still a little off stride, but the funnest part of the day was having The Destroyer’s hooting and cheering during the climb – I was cracking up and regurgitating my heart all at the same time!
Forest Park race was fun – it always is. It started way fast, and every single person in the peleton had Shawn marked. That didn’t stop him from trying his obligatory attacks at least 10 times, but each time he did the entire front of the race immediately funneled behind him. I accepted my less than rippin’ form and resigned myself to one break attempt, and failing that, leading out one of our good finishers in the finale. I found Craig on the last lap, got him on my wheel going into the back stretch, and buried myself on the inside to try to get him as far up front as possible. I couldn’t get him up as far as I wanted to, but he still pulled off 6th place.
Big props to Alan Christanell from Gateway – cool dude who spent a week riding in Georgia, and it payed off with wins in the TT and the Cat3 overall. Nice job, Alan!