Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Good Weekend

This is more like it. Long slightly warmer days and even a little time to blog about the weekend a bit. Yesterday was the final Charge Pond Training race in Plymouth, MA. It's a very useful workout in April and since it's the shortest commute of the year for me, it's hard not to go. I waited until I was sure the weather was gonna be OK, because there was a chance of showers in the forecast. When I woke up Saturday morning, the radar looked good, so I did my race day routine and headed out the door and onto my bike for the 31 mile warm up ride to the race venue. It was gray and brisk and windy. I learned a long time ago that if you don't embrace these conditions in the spring, you'll be a miserable person. So in my mind it was a beauty day. Jamie was still a little banged up from his endo last weekend, so I was on my own today until I actually got to the race venue. I went steady up and over the Sagamore bridge and up through Cedarville onto Long Pond Rd. and made my way to the park entrance. It's a long way from the gate to the venue and the now fierce headwind made me smile, because I knew I'd be surfing a nice tailwind at this point on my return ride a bit later on. I was early so I took an extra loop, and then ran into my good buddy Sammy, along with Manny Gougen and a few others, so I spun around and did the warm up loop with them. We got to the venue with plenty of time to get registered and pinned up and I was very happy to see the Missile pinning a number on a jersey too. He had said he probably wasn't gonna go, but decided to be social and go ride the roundy round with his boys. We went up to the line and I was chatting with long time friend (and promoter of this race series as well as the Myles Standish Road Race), Bill Sykes. We were chatting for a while when I realized we had been standing on the line in the wind for a good 10 minutes and all of a sudden I had a real chill going. As the official gave the instructions, I told Sammy and Kev that I was gonna hole shot the thing to get warm. They just laughed and said "Oh no". It worked wonders and at the end of lap 1, I was toasty. The race was punchy for a while with guys going off the front and some of the local, not so tactical savvy guys were just chasing everything that moved, so I just took a seat right behind them and let them do their thing....he he he Chumps! Finally one of the breaks gained a decent gap and it took them 5 or 6 laps to nail them back. It was still early, but it was a good time to counter and I was out to flog myself this day anyway. I shot off the front and hoped I'd draw 1 or 2 guys with me, but I looked back after 30 seconds or so and it was just Kevin between me and the field with a pretty healthy gap on the bunch. I eased off for just a second and let Kev get on and then drilled it up the finish hill and over. A gust of wind punched us in the chest and I flicked my elbow for Kev to help which he did immediately. I was wondering how the hell the whole field let 2 teamates go up the road alone. Kev looked good and did a good pull, I recovered quickly and came around him on a little descent and powered up the hill on the other side of it. I felt good and figured I'd take a nice long pull since Kev didn't get a good week of training on the bike and when I flicked the elbow 20 seconds later I realized I had popped him off. Shit, that was stupid Jon! He waved at me to just go. I wasn't going anywhere alone against a big field with a lot of strong guys, but I hoped a small group would bridge to me and we'd have something. I went for 4 or 5 laps flogging myself like I said I would and picked up a $10 preem for my efforts and then they closed in on me. We still had about 13 or 14 to go and it was getting pretty agressive up front. Old pal Tobi Marzot was riding very well and agressively and in support of his teamate Adam Myerson, who was wisely sitting tight and to my knowledge hadn't even opened his book of matches yet, let alone burned any. Jake Hollenbech started lighting it up on the next preem lap and I told him to take a leadout from me into the descent which he did. I put him around the finish corner 1st wheel and thought sure he had it, but the kid that beat Karl Menzies et all in the Burlington crit in the GMSR, didn't have the snap and some other poacher took it. That started the detonation of the field and I knew I better try to recover from all the efforts and get my old ass up there. There were IF riders everywhere and I followed one, I think it was Jon Bruno who was riding very strong and we got up there. We had a gap, but there was like 12 guys so it was likely that it would deteriorate when guys started to sit on, but I think everyone worked or at least pulled through. I was cross eyed for a bit, but I recovered. I guess it was about 8 or 9 to go when they rang the bell again for the 3rd and final preem. I knew to follow wheels during this lap, because there was a fair amount of suffering showing on some of the faces and I'm sure mine was one of them, but I was still thinking clearly....I think. Sure enough there was an attack on the back side and even though I didn't have it I followed. I was on Queer St. but with any luck it would ease a bit and I'd find my way back to Main St. It was only about 30 seconds of misery and I looked back and there were 5 guys who didn't even try to follow the surge because it was so hard at that point. I don't remember who made the surge, but it had to be either Tobi, Adam, or Jake. We got near the final turn and I was riding 3rd wheel behind Bruno with Adam on the front, Jon didn't look too good, and I'd bet I looked worse. I feared we'd dick around and end up letting the others back on, so I told Adam to just take the preem, but keep working. I sort of spoke for everyone and I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing anyway. I mean Adam was the freshest, the strongest, and probably the best sprinter, so why not encourage him not to destroy the unity of the small group and get on with staying away til the end? He shook his head and that was that, he took the preem and also a nice long pull. We still had a long way to go and each lap was pretty painful. With 6 to go it was a vicious throw down. We had whittled down to 6. Adam, Tobi, Jake, Todd Y from IF, an NEBC rider and myself. Adam attacked on the back of the course and then a short chase, by the 3 of us caught out. As painful as this is, I just LOVE this shit....THIS is bike racing. There was a quick counter by Tobi, well duh! I was ready for that. Well I knew it was coming anyway, I don't know how ready I was..... but I was able to cover it. We were all pretty shredded and even though the attacks were the right thing to do, no one had enough legs left to hold it. I followed Tobi around the finish corner and even though I had almost been dropped twice in the last 2 minutes, I went hard up the hill in an attack. The others won't remember this as an attack, because I gapped nobody, but I did go as hard as I could when I didn't have anytjing left. My legs were cramping and I was back on Queer St. Crap, what did I do? If someone hit it then I was done. The bunch went by and there was a surge that just about killed me. I almost rode off the edge of the road and I went into "emergency mode" red lights were flashing and loud buzzers were sounding. We had just gotten 5 to go which is still more than 10K. Now thats not that far, but consider the state I was in. I chirped at the group and said "c'mon guys we can't do this to each other for another 10k". After the attacks there were big slow downs and that might lead to us getting caught. Once again I think everyone agreed and I backed up my plea with an honest pull and thankfully everyone fell back into a working paceline for another 3 laps or so. It was getting to be a long day and I wanted it over, so I could suffer all the way back home. I guess it was 2 to go and Tobi made a great attack and Jake was right on him. We didn't even flinch, and they had an instant gap. Todd, myself and the NEBC rider rotated while Adam sat on the back. We stayed about the same distance for a while and I knew I had to try to force Adam's hand which I pretty much figured was gonna screw me. Just after the bell for 1 to go, I didn't pull through and let the 2 in front of me gap me off with Adam behind me, almost instantly he punched it and had way more pop than I could even hope to muster up, so I just rode hard enough to get back on the other 2. Adam bridged easily to Tobi and Jake and I'm not sure, but I think he hit them straight away with Jake getting close, but not on, although he gapped Tobi. I sat on the others and the NEBC rider attacked, but it looked pretty week and it was too far out, so I sat on Todd. Todd seemed to be waving the white flag, since he didn't really have a response to the attack, so I knew I had to go. I jumped and my legs sent cramp messages to my brain....which I ignored. I closed on Mr. NEBC and caught him on the little rise before the descent and went straight through going as hard as I could until I was going down hill. I recovered as best as I could on the hill and went around the final corner. I looked up through my crossed eyes and saw Adam casually cross the line for the win with Jake about 2 or 3 seconds behind him, Tobi was another 4 or 5 seconds behind him, and I was about the same behind Tobi. NEBC was next and then Todd. None of us finished on the same time, it was brutal! I had sucessfully flogged myself, and then I rode the 31 mile warm down with my pal Nick Keough who had only been at the race to watch. He was kind to the old man and it was way better than riding alone. I totaled out with just over 5 hours ride time and 96 miles for the day. I was fully opened up for my first mountain bike race of the year tomorrow!

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