Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Queen of Cycling is Indeed Cruel

It was bound to happen sooner or later: the old three guys pass you at the finish line after you hauled them around the course trick.

Bicycle racing is not like life. In life hard, aggressive hard work and leadership typically pays off in the end; in bike racing hard work at the front typically results in watching other guys pump their fists in the air.  Who can forget TdF 2014 Stage 15:

In bike racing the mantra is: he who does the best is he who does the least.

Oh I’m sounding bitter.

Truth be told, the MFG South Sound Super Prestige (AKA Stillicoom, AKA MFG #2) was an awesome race on an awesome course. Zac and Terry deserve major credit for putting together what I consider to be stellar course work.

My race started at a fairly reasonable pace and I hit the hill feeling strong.  I was with two guys from Leavenworth, a guy from Bellingham, fellow Islander Dodi, and an unknown fella who was riding strong.  I followed Bellingham and Leavenworth #1 up the hill expecting to be dropped at any minute, but as we approached the final kicker at the top I passed Leavenworth #1 and hit the downhill in second position.  I felt confident on the descent and moved into first. 

I hit the downhill single track at full speed and nearly took out a lady jogger and her two golden retrievers.  It must have been mayhem behind me.  Shortly thereafter another jogger/walker appeared from the woods, I let loose with a huge yell which must have penetrated her headphones as she quickly ducked back into the bushes.

Down on the flats I was passed by the Leavenworth boys.  These guys are definitely road racers and this was a road racers course.  They rotated leads through the tape working hard to drop me.  I figured I’d let them do some work and just hung third wheel.

Chasing Leavenworth #1 at Starcrossed
By the second lap we had it down to a four man race:  Leavenworth #1 and #2, myself, and the mystery man.  Bellingham and Dodi were gapped but not out of the race.  The racing got really good: each guy doing work, pushing the pace, preserving the gap.

A man’s gotta know his limitations and my limitation is the sprint.  Basically I don’t have one.  The course had a quarter mile paved finish and I knew that if it came down to a drag race I’d be eating dust, so I figured that I had to create some space.  My three companions were strong going up the hill, but didn’t seem willing to bomb the descent so I planned make a move at the summit, get a gap and then try to hold the empty space till the line.

In hindsight this was a bad idea as the top of the hill was only about one third of the way through the lap, and frankly if I’m strong enough to ride second, third and fourth off my wheel I shouldn’t be in the Cat 4 race.

At first, however, the plan worked perfectly.  I took a few chances on the tight descent turns and came into the flat hairpins with a bit of a gap (I think that I had a gap, it’s hard for me to look back during a cross race).  At the barriers I was nearly passed by one of the Leavenworth guys.  Now there was my mistake, I should have relinquished the lead and followed his wheel, but I was feeling cocky.

I hit the final two turns hot figuring that this might give me a bit of a lead, and then it was onto the pavement.  Dang that finish line was a long ways away.  I tried to temper my efforts, knowing that I had to leave something in the tank for the line.  Perhaps this was another mistake.  Perhaps I should have thrown down hard early, gotten a gap thus forcing the other three to play catch-up.  One of the Leavenworth guys came by maybe fifty feet from the line, I thought, okay cool hold his wheel and come around at the end.  I made my move to come around on the left and ran into the mystery man passing fast on the outside.  Oh no, the tears were already in my eyes as Leavenworth #3 passed me on the right.  I fought and thought maybe there was a chance for third, but no dice.

In the entire race the only time that I was more the two places off the front was in the final two seconds.  That stings.  Good thing that there is a race this weekend.

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