are sometimes smooth and silky, and other times tired and tight.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Race Report: Rubbed the wrong way

Hot and humid. Thunderstorms in the forecast. On my way to the race, I wondered how long it would take for the skies to open up. As I swung past an exposition hall, through a park, I saw three riders up the road. I knew them, but decided not to catch up. This wasn't because I don't like them, or because I wasn't in the mood to speak Dutch. It was because I've fallen into a few superstitious habits on race day.

For whatever reason, cycling is the one time where I'm superstitious. My little 'routine' is simple: stop, just after a foot bridge, and just before going under a railway bridge, and peeing on the side of the bike path. Don't ask me why, it's just what I do. If I rode with the other riders, it would have been awkward to explain. So I let them ride on.

After doing what I had to do, I made my way to the club house, picked up my number, had a coffee, and peed on the side of the course, by the 200 meter line, then rode to the start, and planted myself in the middle of the road, on the stripe - my other rituals.

The field didn't seem huge, but what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in quality. All of the usual suspects were there (van der Moser, the sprinter, flick) as well as a few surprise packages, including a guy who must be in his mid 50s, but in the 3 races I saw him at last year, he created 2 winning breaks. There's a general classification for this race, and at this point in the season, those of us who are in the top 5-7 are starting to get a little too strategic, which if truth be told, is killing some of the racing. Regardless, I attacked from the line, as usual. As is now the norm, I rode for a lap off the front, but was promptly reeled in. I wasn't thrilled with how things felt. Perhaps I've been riding too much, perhaps I haven't been resting properly, perhaps I'm getting a little bored with the bike, perhaps it was the hot and humid weather? Anyway, this wasn't the time to dwell over my heavy legs, so I rode on.

Around the thirty minute mark, I saw someone roll off the front, just before the start/stop line. I noticed that it was soloflyer, a guy who's been strong for the past month, but clearly has no sprint. I gave a friend a 'grab my wheel' flick, and jumped. It didn't take long to catch on, but I was alone. So it goes. The two of us worked well, but not well enough, after two laps off the front, we were caught.

After that, my legs felt better, I felt better, meanwhile, the race continued. There's not much more to be said about the remaining 30 minutes plus 6 laps, apart from the fact that it was fast and boring. Painfully boring. Nothing was sticking, and almost everyone who could make things stick, realized it. So we waited for the sprint.

On the last lap the friend who I gave a tick asked me how I felt, I gave him a nod. He rode up, and blocked the wind for me. A few riders surged to our left, one of them was Flick, so I promptly latched on to his wheel. Another small surge came past, but I held Flicks wheel, until I noticed the Sprinter come past, I let a gap open, so he could move in.

Things were getting nervous, and somehow I rub the Sprinters wheel, but manage to keep upright. With one kilometer to go, two riders tried to Malachi crunch me, one of them is a guy just in front of me in the classification. I call him Rasumussen, Boogerd, or van Poppel depending on which Tour de France, or Rabobank replica jersey he's wearing. Today he was Rasmussen, but not quite as thin. I can not tell a lie - I don't have much time for him, or to be fair, I don't have much time for the way he races: you never see him on the front, or trying to attack, on the few occasions he is on the front, he disrupts the chain. All he has is his elbows and his sprint. It works for him, like it did today.

So Rasmussen squeezes me off of the Sprinters wheel, and I'm on his. I'm not happy about it, partly because the last time I was on his wheel he almost crashed himself out in the sprint when something on his bike broke. Whatever. No use complaining, and there's still some time to move up, which is what I try and do. With 500 meters to the sprint, we go up a climb that's around 23%, but it's only 25-30 meters long. I wait.

After the hill is a shallow descent, and the road turns left, goes for a short stretch, then swings left again. If you want to win, you have to be well placed before the second left. Just before the first turn, there's a small opening, so I swing past Rasmussen, and jump back in to the line. When I did this, Rasmussen and I managed to brush our bars against each other. An interesting moment, for sure.

The second turn is fast approaching, and the line shifts to the left, leaving a small enough gap for Rasmussen to jump past me. We pass the place where I peed, right before the start. The game is on, or so I think. I notice the Sprinter shift, so I jump. I swing right, trying to catch the others off guard. I drop into my 12, and nail it. I'm about to pass Rasmussen, when he gets out of his saddle and flails about to the left and the right.

It was the jerk to the right that sealed it, because he veered off of his line, and managed to put his right foot against my front wheel. Ksyrium Elites can make an interesting THWACK when a Sidi shoe gets jammed against them at over 50 kp/h. My wheel shimmied, but I managed to keep myself upright, much to the relief of my fellow racers behind me.

That was it. Game over. I freewheeled in. No placing for me today.

Looks like another trip to the bike shop to get another front wheel fixed, but better a LBS than a dentist.


Arron said...

always do what you gotta do.

great report. your write ups kick arse.


Anonymous said...

You're about as superstitious as a North American hockey player. Not quite, but almost.

Malachi Crunch! Was Leather Tuscadero there, too? How about the biggest name in Milwaukee radio? Don't let him see this report. He'll go totally schitzoid before his big race coming up.

Kudos on keeping the rubber to the road.

Unknown said...

dude your blog rocks. if only your sprint were as fast as your pen. keep it up!