Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cycle Smart Day 1: 11.1.08

Four years ago I came to Look Park in Northampton and entered my first elite master's 35+ race. These old dudes were fast. and smooth. I got lapped. 

Now I'm a regular in the top 25, and with a decent structured week of rest I wound it up to give it another go for a VERGE point. This year, there were two Northampton races as Farmington was dropped from the calendar (yeah!!). I love Noho, and racing there twice is a special treat. 

The course was unchanged from last year: paved start to a hard right and down to the lower field section. A few straights, a few turns, a sand pit. Onto a short stretch of pavement, up a very loose run up, and into the first section of roots. Down a short descent and back into the field for more turns and a few trip over the mini-railroad tracks. Back up a ride up and into more roots, a set of barriers, then the final two sections: a paved walking path and the start/finish stretch again.

Le Map: 

The call ups list is getting long, and a poor registration performance had me in the third row after all of the point getters. I usually give it a really hard sprint to start the race and get myself well up in the field then try and hold on. That formula has resulted in a 17th, 23rd, 24th, and a 21st in the first four VERGE races. I've tried to start slower and then work forward a few times, Southington last year and Beer Cross last weekend, so with a cr@ppy start spot I decided to try it again in Noho. 

The traffic from that far back is really crippling, and while the tape to tape cattle drive of mid pack first lap riding certainly keeps you from blowing up early, it merely shifts that effort to the end of lap one and into lap two. Such was the case Saturday.  After hangin' with the fellas over the railroad tracks, I started the slow march forward. 

First lap over the tracks complements of Soups
Check out that supple FMB rear tubular contorting under my girth

I was working hard early, and as usual my new pal Mike Rowell was on my heels mid-way through the first lap. He didn't ride away when we hit the rooty top section of the course and as we began lap three, I went wide and into the pine tree there. I ducked for the first branch, but looked up directly into the second one and took it squarely in the left eye. I fell off Mike's wheel and John Foley came around. Tears were streaming down my face, and at the expense of depth perception I rode the next lap with it closed. I got back on with Mike and John shortly thereafter, and the three of us worked to keep Ian Madestow, Jeff Ferraro and a few others behind us.  They were moving along really well and looked ready to close the gap at any moment.

Somehow I got off the front of my small group in the upper root section and decided to try and reach Aaron Millett and Bill Shattuck alone. Two laps of that silliness and I was back with Jon and Mike with just over two laps to go. Jeff, Ian and the gang behind weren't falling off the pace, there was no room for error. On the paved section with two to go Foley attacked and got a gap, then did something really strange. He sat up, looked over his shoulder at Mike and I, then got back down. I'd seen him behind me for the past few laps, and he wasn't the one driving the train so his mini celebration perplexed me and a few others who saw it too. 

No way I was loosing to him now, and Mike and I worked to get around him within a half a lap. Going into the bell, it was Mike and me, like so many times before this season. Into the sand his lovely wife Cathy yelled "Go Mike!! Matt's right on your butt!!" John was gapped and it was down to Rowell vs. Myette episode 6.

We shared the work through the last parts of the course with Mike first to the barriers and onto the final paved path. He opened up a strong sprint from the last corner and it was over right then and there. He easily held me off for 20th. 

It's hard riding from the back, but it can be done. Very strange to end up right at the 20-24 whether I go hard and try to make it stick or ride up through the field. 

The next 12 hours were agonizing... my eye was oozing and streaming tears all night, bright lights burned and blinking was pure torture. I slept better than I expected considering the hurt eye and strange bed, but it was still very sore on Sunday for the second race...

Tomorrow, Rowell vs Myette episode 7.  


matt said...

fixed the photos, screwed the font (most likely with the cutting and pasting). Next one will be better.

Cathy said...

It's good that you have each other to race ;). I have a great shot of the two of you side-by-side coming out of the sand - will post on the blog later today.

At least I kept cheering for you the whole time at this race ;)

matt said...

what blog?

Cathy said...