What happened last time they had this race, was that when we started the climb, I was with the pack. As the climb started, two guys attacked, and the entire pack decided to crash into each other to let them get away. I, being at the back of the pack, crashed into the large pile, and flatted. Luckily, there was a Fort Lewis college wheel car right behind and they were nice enough to give me a spare (and much nicer than mine) wheel, and I was off. Unfortunately, I was the only one who had flatted, and was now about a minute behind. Did I mention it was 25 degrees and snowing? So, I (knowing I was not the best climber) proceeded to resign myself to the fact that it was going to be a long long ride home. I was hoping that I could start picking people off as they dropped off the pack, but I had few illusions about catching the pack itself. Long story short, I bonked harder than I ever have in my life, was nearly hypothermic by the top, and slept for twelve hours, and missed the crit the next morning.
So this year, when the road race was canceled, I wasn't to disappointed. Surprised?
To start out the story, I intended to ride in the mens B category but thanks to a new rule about having upgrade points in college cycling (huh?) I had to ride in C's. I didn't think this was to cool, but Spencer, the guy in charge/MC, was really cool about it, and I just said ok, whatever.
I knew that I was pretty fit, and had done a decent bit of riding throughout the spring, so I didn't think it was quite fair of me to sit in the pack and wait for the sprint at the end, because I knew I was stronger than most of our riders, and knew they were competitive with the other C's riders from other schools.
Right now the UW cycling team is very young and inexperienced, so I decided I would try to help one of them win. I knew that a couple of them had been in the top 5 in crits that year, so I figured that if I did things right, I could pull one of them for a win.
However, as some famous strategist once said (Machiavelli?) "Plans never survive first contact with the enemy." Or something quite similar.
I cut my warmup a little short to get a good spot on the front line of the start, and hit the first corned in abut third place. One or two laps in, a CSU rider had managed to break off the front and get a sizeable lead.
I couldn't figure out why nobody went after him! So, I charged to the front, and towed the whole pack back up to him, about two labs of charging hard. After catching the break, I sat back for a bit to catch my breath. My first thought was "damn, that was hard, maybe I'm not as fit as I thought!" But after another two laps, and after realizing that there was only one UW rider other than my in the pack, I was feeling good. In the beginning, we had decided that since there were 11 UW riders in the field, and only about 20 from all the other teams put together, we would just send rider after rider on the attack. So, after pulling the pack back to the break, and seeing how many riders we had dropped, I decided to attack again. We came around the corner onto the straightaway (right into a 20-25 mph headwind), and I took a slightly better line than those behind me and dropped the hammer. There was a shadow on my wheel when I looked down about halfway down the stretch and I jerked the wheel right to break the draft and accelerated again. I pounded the next few laps as hard as I could, hoping to break up the field a little more. I looked back about halfway through the s-turns, and saw that I had at least a block lead, and couldn't see the next rider. A few laps later, as I was starting to feel really really tired, I heard the CSU coach yelling at me that I was"about to get some help." My first thought was, crap, I was kinda hoping to hold on. A lap later the same CSU rider who had broken early screams past me, and I thought I was D-U-N dun. I managed to accelerate a little bit, and sat behind the kid (John I think), and held his wheel for about half a lap. At that point I started to feel much better, having had a couple minutes of chilling on his wheel. When we came to the start of the homestretch, almost exactly a lap after he had caught me, he shook his arm to tell me he wanted me to pull. At which point, feeling good, I put my head down, and proceeded at the pace I had been before he caught me. I looked back a a lap later and I had gapped him by about a hundred yards. About three laps later I got the sign that I had five laps to go, and was starting to catch glimpses of a large pack of about ten riders in front of me. Two laps to go I caught them, and worked my way through them. With one lap for me to go, the officials rang the bell and waved the sign for one lap to go. On the back corners I made my way to the front of the pack, and started cranking at the front into the home stretch, trying to finish strong. As I neared to line two kids came hauling ass past me, and I though, "crap, these guys had been catching me all along, and now I've gone and blew it by slowing down with the that group to long." I asked them as we coasted through the col down lap if they had been on the lead lap and they said yes, which meant that I got third. Damn. We lined up at the finish to make sure the officials hard marked down all the right numbers, and after take one look at my number they said "your the winner, you can go." Woohooo!!!!!
Turns out the group I had lapped was what was left of the main pack, and the only person between them and me was John from CSU, who had ended up about a half a lap back thanks to my last hard push.
Needless to say, I was pretty stoked about the race. I was really disappointed with having to race C's, but results in cycling are not really what I'm after, I was mostly just happy that I could hold the pace that I laid down, and not crack. I also didn't feel to bad when I found out that the reason nobody chased down John at the beginning was that he had won every C's crit this season, and hadn't upgraded, so I wasn't the only one sandbagging.
Turns out these pictures are mostly to big to be uploaded in a reasonable amount of time, so please check out my Facebook photo albums from this weekend. And if you aren't my facebook friend, well shame on you!!
Keep your head down and your cadence fast.