The Norwell Circuit Race is really awesome. It's similar to Blue Hills Road Race in distance and terraine, but theres one thing that this race offers that makes it better than most. Thats a rolling closure of the roads, so we get to use the entire road surface on 99% of the course. That really changes the entire dynamic of the racing, you can actually do stuff. I guess Blue Hills Cycling Club actually stepped up and lent a helping hand to MBRC. Big Thank Yous to both clubs for two great races.
I was signed up for the 35s and 45s. Sammy was also, and Bill was in just the 35s since he's still a kid. My personal goal for the day was to try to get both of my teamates a result. Ideally a win of course, but a podium would be sweet. Both fields were really stacked and it was gonna be a tall order. In the past this race has been for break aways, but with these big fields it was gonna be tough.
The 45s were up first and my plan was to try to make the race hard by attacking several times. I usually get a big reaction, so it would pretty much mean everyone would have to burn some matches. I threw in a few hard ones and then more or less sat up, although I tried to not make it look obvious. The smart guys knew what was going on in no time, but thats OK, cuz I figured when Sammy counter attacked he'd get a couple strong mates for a solid break. We tried a bunch of times, but it just didn't happen. I was actually surprised to hear the bell ring for 1 to go as the race went by really fast. It was gonna be a sprint now for sure, but Sammy tried a last lap attack. It could have worked too, but there were just way too many strong guys believing they could win now.
I got into a good spot around 4th or 5th wheel. I was pretty confident in my speed and line through the last corner going into the TOUGH finish hill, so I decided I was gonna jump a fraction early so I could lead through there, if I blew up, so be it, but it was gonna be better than trying to come from behind on the uphill with all those attacks in my legs. It worked out really well actually and I held the lead for a long way, thinking I might just be able to steal it, but Matt Kressey powered through with about 100 meters to go. The Legend himself, Paul Curley, was on his wheel and they crossed the line just like that. I held on for 3rd in front of a hard charging Tobi Schultze, and an O&A rider.
We got the podium result, but it wasn't supposed to be me.....and it hurt like a mutha!
Bill was all fresh back at Town Hall where the race rolls out from and in no time we were back on the circuit doing the 35s. A group went away on the very 1st climb and it was checking out in a big way. We had no one in there and I paniced a bit. I followed Ciaran Mangan when he attempted to bridge and then the next few guys too. It got pretty strung out and I ended up on the Arc en Ciel rider's wheel with the world champion stripes on his sleeve. We were off the front of the bunch and closing fast on the break. He proceeded to ride me off his wheel with sheer power, I was in serious trouble. He went right up to the break and started to pull. I was dying on the finish climb when Bill and 2 others rolled by. I somehow scrapped on and they got me up to the break. I recovered the best I could on the downhill, cuz I knew we had to all be committed to make it stick. I had every intention to work, but it seemed like some guys got there accidently at the start and they weren't quite sure how to ride in a break. Bill took a big pull and Eric Pierce was on his wheel, I was behind him. He just left Bill on the front for way too long and I was chirping at him to pull through. He didn't, but I did and then we got caught. I was sooo frustrated.
Now I was completely screwed. I was cramping on the finish climb already and it was only lap 3, with like 8 to go or something like that. I had no choice but to go to the sweetspot in the pack and try to get dragged along, and drink. I had a gel and tried to spin a high cadence, but every time we came to the finish climb I was getting shot to the back. So that became the game. Move up on the downhills, recover and coast when I could and then battle to stay on, on the hill. Reapeat.
After about 5 laps I was starting to get a lot better and it was still all together. I decided I felt good enough to get up front and be a bike racer again. I was good for the moment, but knew it was gonna be a short window of opportunity. I went up the Finish climb feeling OK with 3 to go. I told Sammy I had 1 more match left and what I was gonna do. Then I told Bill Yarborudy my plan, and finally our Bill (Shattuck). After the downhill I would go to the front and make it hard for as long as I could up the false flat grade, then Bill & Bill could counter attack off of that, up over the finish climb and hopefully into the sunset. There was actually a small group just up the road and I settled into my effort, doing my best Jens Voight imitation. We ate up the break and I just kept going. I went as hard as I could for as long as I could, trying to make it faster and faster as I went. Bill S. was right on my wheel and Biil Y. right behind him or close by. When he saw me start to tie up, he yelled mailbox, mailbox. I knew what that meant, just get him to the next mailbox on the road so he could go from there.
I got him almost there and then he went, 4 or 5 others got there too and I was glad to see good friend Mike Rowell get in there. Mikey is one of the nicest people you'd ever wanna meet and he's been pretty hard on himself lately. I pulled off to the left and truly felt like I was gonna puke. I didn't and thats good cuz it's been since 1999 since I did that and that was in a helicopter over Maui, with the pilot fighting wind shear, (Ya I got it all in the bag).
Anyway, I looked back and was really surprised at what I saw.....nothing. The field wasn't in sight. Holy crap! I was so stoked that those guys had checked out. I was able to get my shit together just as the field caught me near the finish line. We got 2 to go. I knew I had to block now. The chase was really on now that we were on the downhill and fresh guy after fresh guy came to the front. Sammy and I did all we could to disrupt the organization but the break was in sight.
I was frustrated, as usual, that some of the strongest guys were on the front chasing. In that situation, if you're a strong man and not a sprinter, and you don't have a sprinter on the team, I think you should force the sprinters hands. Make them chase! If you use your big engine up to chase it down, then they're just gonna dust you in the end. You've been used and abused. But if you make them chase then you might actually be able to out power a sprinter thats been doing a lot of work. Anyway, thats just masters racing sometimes.
The next time up the hill (1 to go) my legs completely locked up. It felt like there was 2 gremlins inside my quads trying to punch and kick their way out my body. NOT GOOD! I got dropped, I had no choice, I pedaled around the last lap alone visualizing Bill winning or battling for it, and hoped it would be true. I must have lost 4 minutes on that lap.
In the end the break got caught with about a mile or so to go. Bill Yarbroudy still had enough to gallop to the win and Bill S. pulled off a pretty impressive 7th after the hard effort. Good on everyone in that race. It was real racing. Again I think having the whole road makes all the difference.
On my way back to Town Hall a guy in his driveway flagged me down. He had been standing there during the races. It was John O'Connell. He lives right there. John was one of the best triathletes around these parts back in the day. He won the first 6 or 7 races I ever did, while I was in 80th place or something. We went on to have many memorable battles once I learned what I was doing. He had taken a bunch of years off and had gotten back into it back in 2008 or so. He had just done the Marshfield Triathlon that morning. He was 2nd overall, and the guy is close to 50. He's still as ripped as ever. His wife had raced as well. I talked with him for a while, it was cool to catch up. Then I pedaled off with my siezed up legs.
One of the best things about Mondays is the easy ride. Just before I headed out to spin the legs and get some of the garbage out, left over from the races, I logged onto Tilford's blog. He's one of the most interesting guys you'll ever meet. This post made me laugh uncontrolably, and thats always a good way to start a bike ride.
As lots of you know, I live on Cape Cod. It's been stellar beach weather forever it seems. In the evening some of the neighborhoods near the beaches are pretty cool to ride through. There's so much life everywhere. People are on thier decks or in their yards. You can smell burgers cooking and hear the Sox game on tv's and radios, the birds are chirping and everything is in full bloom, it cools off a bit and there are stragglers coming off the beach still. On mondays I'm usually in the little ring, looking for the back roads and trying to take in this sort of stuff. Tonight I was quietly riding along when I saw a slender woman riding her bike up ahead. It was a beach cruiser and she had on one of those "after the beach sun dresses". It was a quiet wooded section where there were no houses. I was about 100 yards behind her when she stopped and stood up, she then proceeded to lift up her dress and reveal the beautiful backside of the female physique. Apparently riding a beach cruiser with a bikini on and a sundress over it, it tends to....well....turn into dental floss, if you know what I mean. Well she'd had enough and it had to come out! As she wrestled with her suit, she saw me, now about 20 feet behind her with a big smile on my face. She laughed and knew she was caught red handed. By now I'm right next to her riding by and I said "Thanks for the show". She was now red in the face and laughing hystericly. I was really glad she took it so well, and I couldn't believe how hard I'd laughed at 2 completely different things in less than 30 minutes.
When I got home, my friend Geoff texted me a picture from his Red Sox seats at Fenway
(Bill's son, same age as my nephew)and sit behind home plate to see Lester pitch. I have no idea how those guys can even try to hit that guy's curve ball.
OK, I think I'm done blabbering on.....for now.
Thanks for stopping by, JB