It wasn't my idea to sign up for the P123 @ Shedd Park. My daughter was going to be singing at church that morning, precluding me from my usual master's field. The 3/4 was too early, so the only option was the main event. Gave me butterflies all week.
Sunday morning heading into church I was delighted to learn that cherub performance had been cancelled. Now I was going to get my nuts squashed to oblivion for no good reason. Hooray.
Nearly 50/50 split between scared/pissed, I did actually manage to get a good warm up in, getting to the racing part always helps. I think the key for me is to ride the course before the event I'm racing in starts for at least two laps, and get some hard race pace efforts in during that time. Then stay moving for the next hour, with perhaps a little effort if I didn't get one in on the course. I'm writing some of this stuff for the future me, who should do exactly what the current me has been doing this season... except for the tire thing. Get that sorted out earlier, ok future me? Great.
After Adam Myerson bowled through the field from the back row at the start the rest of us were left to sort it out before the first bottleneck, a 180 us a small bump and around a tree. I think I was the last guy not to put down a foot, as there was a great deal of swearing and crashing sound coming from right behind me. The field was already split into two groups at the front, the first 7 and the next 7, and I was tailgunning this second group.
The first ride up the main hill wasn't bad, neither was the speed out of it at the top. I know I breathe heavy but one of the B2C2 guys came up next to me and was panting like this:
The split stretched out approaching the descent, but no one was getting away there, everyone was just trying to stay upright. As we came across the field to go to the second half of lap one, the guys I was riding with started attacking each other relentlessly. This continued for the first four laps. One guy would take a flyer, blow sky high and would come back. Then the next would go, and the next, until the first guy was ready to go again. They'd sit up on the track and look around at each other, and invariably someone would take the bait. I surfed the back and burned surprisingly few matches to stay in touch.
Chandler Delinks was in the group, and I wondered if I'd have to read about myself in his blog if we stuck together long enough. He was gone from my group before the end of lap 2 or 3, so I guess not.
Synjen Marrocco got on the front for a long while, took some of the worst lines I've ever seen through the corners, and got dropped shortly after Chandler. That kid is strong but spent way too much energy getting back up to speed after each turn.
Greg Whitney clipped a pedal, almost got thrown from his bike, and lost touch after hanging out for a while too. Either he or Mike Wissell took a sketchy inside line through a turn on me at one point, but not enough to complain about beyond what I just wrote.
Cary Fridrich came through our group on lap three and made an attempt to get to the front group of 7 that was unsuccessful. He stayed 20 seconds away from then basically until the end of the race. Half way through lap 3 Toby Wells took off to join Cary, but never made it there. At the end of lap 4 there was some sitting up again on the track, and Sam Morse was the first to blink and he took off. He must have been getting antsy, because it seemed to me like this was all working out just fine with the youngsters kicking the shit out of eachother. Anyway, Wissell gave chase and I followed him.
When Wissell pulled off and no one else came through the remants of the group slowed a bit and I knew that the kids were tuckered out from all that bike racing. I jumped across to Sam and right up to Toby, bringing only Chris Hamlin from UVM with me. The four of us reformed a group and started to pull away as the others faded back.
With three to go Sam started to get gapped, and I let Hamlin and Wells do all of the work. Hamlin was strong in the corners, but Wells was so smooth and powerful... it was great to watch. *Man crush alert* He carried ridiculous amounts of speed through the fast turns, especially the downhill going towards the tennis courts. He was taking it very easy up the ride up though, and I thought for sure he was playing possum and would rip up that thing on the last lap.
Hamlin's bike creaks like a rusty old wrought iron gate. Like he lubes his chain with salt water and beach sand.
Half way through that 5th lap we were making ground on Cary when Hamlin sat up a bit. After a moment Toby said something about catching Cary and he went to the front, but the hesitation was enough to keep Cary away for good. Hamlin tried to go inside Toby in the woods before the track and I scolded him for it. Bad line, bad place to try to pass. Damn rambunctious kids and their helmet cam thingamajings.
Just before two to go with Sam pretty far back I got to the front for a second time and put in one long pull on the track to see how much of the gap to Cary I could close down. We gained a little, but he was moving pretty good and we realized we weren't going to catch him.
At the bell Hamlin was on front, and led us up the hill with a bit more speed. Toby didn't spring the attack I expected, and I was content to follow the two. Wells went to the front near the tennis courts and I didn't want to be third wheel, so I out broke Hamlin and got in between them. Wells attacked hard coming out of the forest of Lowellenburg and I matched, though we were careening through the woods so fast I didn't want to get to close for fear of slamming a rock.
The accelleration did drop Hamlin and we came to the last few turns together. Being in front, Wells had the better line coming out of the woods and could start his acceleration sooner. He got a gap and held it to the line to take 9th. I'm happy with the 10th place (paid $20) and the best results point wise yet @238. If we had driven we probably could have caught Cary, but then again he may have been saving something in the event that we got any closer.