I woke up feeling amazingly crusty - though rested, from a full nights sleep. With wife and kid out of town for the weekend, the house is too damned quiet. But I did sleep. After a crazy week last week, I wound up sick and blowing crap out of my nose these last few days. Funny - I think that happened last time I was about to be left alone! It's some devious plot, I'm sure...
...none the less, I do not have brain cancer or any other serious ailments to complain about - so I ate, hydrated and CAFFEINATED like crazy. Still sore 4 hours after waking up, I popped 2 Vitamin I as well (Advil, if you don't know the catchy lingo). Rolled into Salem, MA a wee bit early, so I headed over to an old favorite, Bagel World - as I needed more coffee, and a fresh bagel with cream cheese. Got 'em, headed over to the King St. residence of fellow CAT2/3/4 group hammer, J-Rock (and roll lately - he's been coming on strong!) and we loaded up the pimpin' Chevy Geo Toyota Corrolla Old Guy Tie Salesman team car with a full quiver of KHS bikes.
(photo from LAST years' Plymouth CX Race)
Got to the venue in plenty of time to do a pre-pre-ride in jeans, like all the cool racers do - and then get ready. To get ready. You know, to be ready. Wait - had I said "short and sweet?". I digress.
I chugged some kids homeopathic cough syrup and headed for the start. 1 minute to go; 30 seconds; 15; WheeeeeeeEEE! That whistle blew 2 seconds after the 15 second mark, but I was ready and had clipped in and up-shifted in the first 4 crank revolutions. Now, having stumbled into a 2nd row spot - I was in damned good shape off the mark here. We flew up the 100m paved road into a hairy loose right-hand U-Turn, I stayed inside and bbbrrrrppp! Someone really jammed there tire into my rear wheel. They went down, however - not I (this time). In no time, a lead group of 10-12 of us were accelerating away from a big chase group (we had about 40-50 starters). A minute into the first lap, we were on a fast dirt/grass section that wound it's way around and up to a loose - but easy climb. Easy when there are not 10 guys of questionable technical ability anyhow... but just before this climb, I eased off a bike length or two from the guy ahead - hoping to have a little space in case of dabs, bobbles, or other hesitations ahead, and a fellow racer came around on my right - kind of pinning me between these huge boulders (they hadn't looked so menacing on the pre-rides...) and himself, so when he started pulling into the line *I* had, I "blocked him" out. Call it what you will - but unfortunately, he went down. From my point of view - he had not completed the pass, and was moving into my wheel / bars. See my previous reports about proper passing technique, ala thy book of g-roll...
...anyhow, on this first lap I worked my way into 5th or 6th spot - but after the bobble and loose climb, I saw the leader clean the climb and take off, never to be caught. Oh, he was FIFTEEN YEARS OLD! Geezus I'm old. Lap 2 went well. I reeled in a few guys, sat in, felt too good to wait - so launched a few fast attack passes.
At the end of Lap 2 - I was in second place, and sort of all alone. It was 20-30 seconds up to first (ain't gonna *cough* happen) and sounded like 20-30 seconds back to 3rd. Damn, I thought - way too early to be all alone, and in contention. I felt OK, but could feel the steam running low too. For all of the 3rd, 4th, and most of the 5th laps - status quo prevailed. I saw the kit of the previously knocked-down racer coming up onto my wheel, where he sat for a bit - then when he went by, I asked "are you the guy I 'took out'"? He said no and promptly took off. I held his wheel for about .002 seconds, and felt my right quad locking up too. Ah well. I tried to conserve my podium spot now - but was worried at how slow I was going.
Thankfully, the guys I could see behind me were not close enough - barring catastrophe - to catch up in this last lap. I wobbled across the finish (nice the announcer had been calling out names throughout the event) and confirmed a 3rd place finish. I found the 2nd place guy, and asked about his team mate. He said "don't worry - it was clean" or something like that, but then I did meet him a short bit later. We kissed and made up - and all was well.
Day 1 - 3rd Place in the CAT2/3/4 event - I'll take it!
About race etiquette, also from the Book of Glen; I learn things the hard way and have found out to what extent I'll go to be an idiot, while racing. At a regional race, years ago - the Firecracker 50, in Breckenridge, CO - I was on an upward trajectory as a capable 2nd year expert masters racer, when in on fateful instant I went from rockin' a wicked first lap (of 2 - each 25 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing!) to DOA. Some genius decided to try and execute a pass on the (1) screaming loose dirt road descent in the whole race. He lost it, took me - and himself (though he fared far worse) clean out of the race. Stitches, scars, and a sore knee for weeks was all I got - of, and a DNF. My seasoned vet of a racer buddy told me to simply not let that happen. Hold your line, block out your space when needed, and most importantly - ride defensively.