Saturday July 12 saw me return to racing for the first time in over 6 months and it was great.
The day started with Charlie's grass crit in Attleboro. He was in the 6-7 yr old division, but there were some older and some younger in there as well. Cory wanted to race but couldn't generate enough watts to move her training wheel equipped bike around the parcours.
After a sluggish start, CJ stomped the pedals and pulled back a few kids that had passed him early on but were fading towards the end. I think he finished 6th. The kids was so happy and wanted to race again against the 10 yr olds but they wouldn't let him. He came with me on my warm up instead.
Then was the 35+ crit for me. A pre-race check of the competition confirmed that I was one of perhaps 10 people in the field of 70 racers that didn't have deep section carbon wheels and was clearly the only guy on a cross bike. Equipped with the power tap wheelset the crosser weighs in in at a portly 21 lbs, but the course was relatively flat. There is one short hill built for guys like me that can power up something like that without loosing much speed. With two years since my last road race, I wasn't sure what to expect but was excited to find out.
It wasn't that bad. I stayed in the middle of the pack until about half way through the race. By then I had realized that the pace was easily manageable and that I was going to be able to finish provided I didn't crash. With most of the death and destruction towards the rear of the field, I figured it was time to move up so around 20 to go I planted my trust steed in the top 10 on the road.
Johnny Bold, Tobi Shultz, Mark Stotz and a few other elite master's cross studs were there at the front as well, taking turns trying to get away. Each effort was well marked, mostly by CCB and Bikebarn who never seemed to have anyone in any of the stronger breaks. This went on for several laps until Tobi and a Met Life guy got away with 12 or so left. The field was in full gallop mode however and after that came back it was clear that this would come down to a field sprint. Sweet... the promise of more carnage!
The attacks were furious as we went under 6 to go, with each lap alternating between super fast and super slow as people were constantly looking around to see which direction the next move was coming from. At 2 to go the field was noodling through the start/finish area with everyone thinking strategy. I had good bit of rest in my legs so I shot up the right hand curbing and powered up the uphill to open up a 50 meter gap on everyone. I hit a new personal max wattage (classified information) and stayed away for nearly an entire lap, forcing the field to string out in a chase. This allowed my teammates to rest and kept the pace high to make it safer for everyone.
for those unfamiliar with bike racing, the faster the end of the race is the safer it is. this seems counter intuitive, but the faster the field is moving the fewer guys there are at the end to run into each other. Also, there is less variation in speed between the riders in the field resulting in less opportunity for objects traveling at vastly different speeds to collide.
I pulled off with just over one to go and the field swarmed by completely strung out... mission accomplished. Teammate Mike Norton took second.
Later that evening was a going away party for the Zanconatos. They thought they were going to Sterling for an easy training ride on the Sterling Rail Trail but in actuality they were going to a mini cross race at Kenny's house. Kenny and John Menard set up a short but very difficult course with all of the usual features: a pit, barriers, a beer feed, transitions between grass, gravel and asphalt and a challenging uphill start. Ten racers toed the line and had a great time circling the course while a chorus of cow bells, stadium horns and heckling could be enjoyed every 30 seconds or so. The short course was very hard, with constant speed changing and lots of alcohol to drink.
Ken Scott put down a cupcake in one impressive motion and it was clear that Jamner was the college kid when he pounded a beer in under 5 seconds. "Just open the throat" he was heard saying later.
A good day by all measures.