Photos of everyone can be found HERE.
Results can be found HERE.
My mildly amusing take on the race follows:
Despite my acute lack of fitness I made my 2014 road racing debut at the familiar loop of Mason Lake. Big John and El Pirate were also contesting in the fifty plus race and the peer pressure was palpable. I signed up and I was all in.
Hottie wanted to photographthe morning race (mine was later in the day) so we departed in the predawn twilight. We sailed down I-5 and shared a colorful sunrise. We drove right past registration so she could get positioned on course. While she shot photos I exchanged a couple texts with my brothers in transit.
After the first races were done and my teammates arrived we warmed up and I confessed that my goal was a pack finish. Despite the perceived sandbagging, I sought to assure them that indeed rather than expectations I had fears of humiliation.
John was quickly dressed in his costume and disappeared to warm up. He does get a bit excited about road racing. Matthew and I rode up and down the road warming up and then we managed one last bathroom stop before lining up. Remember this is the 50 plus category (brought to you by Flowmax)…
We rolled out with a peloton of thirty some riders dreaming of glory and at least one hoping to avoid embarrassment. There were a couple breakaway attempts right away and Big John dutifully chased them down. I feared a race where John did as much work as everyone else combined.
Suddenly there were two…. no three in a break and Big John was among them. The rules of the road mean Matthew and I don’t chase but I quietly worked my way to the front and pedaled tempo. The gap got bigger. Try as I might I could not close it down. An Apex rider took over and I slotted in about fifth wheel.
Turn Two !! Matthew center, Evo back a bit, John long gone !
After a little while I moved up and once again tried to close it down but I could not. I was again passed and settled in. Soon Matthew was on the sharp end of the peloton. Alas, he too was unable to bring them back. Ladies and gentlemen, this is road racing and road racing is a team sport.
As we approached the end I the first lap I was in front when I spotted Hottie. I was “working” and flashed a wry smile. When we completed the first lap the race official told us the breakaway had a minute. I smiled.
Matthew and I and a rotating assortment of Fisher riders chased down any attempts to bridge or break away. With one lap to go the gap had grown to three minutes.
I was expecting the pace to ramp up and it was a mixed bag. Everyone wanted to pick up the pace to shrink the pack for the finishing sprint, but nobody wanted to do the requisite work.
With no chance of catching the break I was free to contend for Matthew and my own selfish interests. I took to the front at turn two (about halfway on the lap) and soft-pedaled waiting for a rider to take over. I sailed along for close to a mile and when I was passed there was quite the attack.
I tried to pick it up but my fitness was lacking and I went from first to twelfth to twentieth to holy-shit-batman. My back was sore from the spending more time at the front than I ever do. To my delight the pack slowed on the next climb and I was able to recover. I just waited and then after five or six minutes I felt better and I started working my way up.
I could see Matthew in the mix and he was doing a bit of work. If he could do a little wheel sucking before the finish he could be in a great spot.
We were four across a narrow half of the road and I was down in the drops afraid to blink. Every time I saw a gap I filled it. I passed on the left, on the right, and up the middle. We hit the 1k to go and the road drops sharply and the roller coaster turns demands your full attention. I moved up and went past Matthew.
It seemed as if everyone was taking a breath getting ready for the finishing sprint that was just around the corner, and I took the opportunity to move up just a couple more spots. I wasn’t on the second row of riders but I was on the third and I thought to myself, “being boxed in will probably help me from going too early.”
Around the corner we could see the 200m to go sign up the road. It looked very far and I was setting up but not going just yet. I heard a voice say, “On your right 2020.” I was just passing a rider on my right and it wasn’t that rider who was speaking. We hit the 200m sign (which means we get both sides of the road to sprint to the finish line) and it was all on. I don’t know who was “on my right” but I didn’t expect them to pass me. Not that I planned to block them, I was just ready to sprint.
I don’t get out of the saddle when I sprint and I dug down. I felt a shot like a mini-cramp in my quad but I didn’t let up. I kept driving and looked around. I had two riders to my left and two to my right. I could see the line and kept spinning hard. I took fifth in the field sprint.
This was how we finished.
It turns out the breakaway was too fast for one of the three riders and John survived and took second. We were sprinting for third so I ended up seventh on the day.
Although the pace had been pretty pedestrian, I did more than my share of the work and was delighted beyond my wildest dreams with my finishing place. After warming down and getting dressed we checked the results and sure enough, second and seventh.
This was my first race after my season-ending crash last October. It felt good to pin on a number again. I was happy to have shared it with Hottie, John and Matthew.