Sunday, April 29, 2007

I could have taken a more subtle hint

If someone out there doesn't want me riding a bike, why couldn't they have just gotten them stolen or something? Yesterday, my week went from bad to ridiculous.

Headed out to Sturbridge for the 3/4 race yesterday. This was my first 3/4 road race and really I don't remember if I've done any 4 or 4/5 races since I upgraded. Racing up builds character (or something). Field was probably about 100 and the weather was quite nice... shorts and short sleeves all the way even though I saw several sets of arm and knee warmers around. The race was 7 laps of a reportedly 7 mile loop, although my computer at the end of the race said something like 43.5 miles so they rounded up I guess. We rolled out last on the day and the rollout was uneventful even though I did end up at the back which worried me for a second in case some guys were ambitious and took off. Not to worry though as NEBC sent one guy up the road like they do in every race I've ever been in, but we knew he'd be back. About a mile past the S/F line, there's a REALLY sketchy right turn that's about 130 degrees and sort of off-camber. Amazingly there were no serious mishaps on that turn, but it's always a tough one because it goes mildly downhill after and guys always go screaming off of the turn. If you're too far back it requires quite a sprint to stay on. Then it's probably close to a mile uphill, most of it almost false-flat-ish, but the last 400m or so is legit, although still big-ringable. Legs were responding very well on the uphill and I just followed the pace of the crowd. Then it's a short screaming down, some flats, a keep you honest short uphill, and then the finish stretch of about 1.5k which is really fast. The RD managed to arrange closed road for the entire loop which is amazing, but it was only partially meaningful for most of the race because there were cars coming the other way the whole race. I will throw out props to the Blue Angels who lead/trail the fields at this race on their m'cycles and do an awesome job.

It's fair to say that for whatever reason, the field was just plain sketchy. We'd go from like 23 to 18 in 2 seconds on an open section of road with nobody off the front. I almost got taken out going up the hill because some guy squeezed me, I got my bars partially hooked, and then me and that guy had to untangle on the move. I got elbowed into the left gutter even though I clearly had a lane. Then I had to return the favor to a guy who tried to squeeze me off the road on the right. I think the whole open road thing hurt in this case because everyone wanted the front row even though nobody wanted to do anything when they got there. We even had a crash on lap one on a dead flat section of the widest road. There was a steady stream of 1-4 guys who'd go off the front, their team(s) might try to block a little, and they'd get maybe 20-30 seconds max. On lap 4, partially as an experiment, I tried a solo bridge up to 2 guys who were out about 20 seconds. I got off the front pretty easily and then realized I had one with me. This could have been good because 4 of us might have stayed off for a while, but I got 2/3 of the way and realized I just didn't have enough legs. I sat up just before the keep-you-honest hill so I could get a breath and latch back on. Other than that nonsense, I just tried to stay invisible and do very little work.

With 1 to go, I made sure I was in the front third. I was probably 20th going through the sketchy turn and then stayed near the front on the long hill and followed pace. I hauled up the last hill and got 15th or 20th through the last turn onto the finish road. Then things blew up. Instead of one of the teams that had 4 or 5 gunning it and forming the pointy end of the race, it almost immediately went like 6 or 7 wide with everyone filling the whole road. There was maybe a 3 guy train on the right, but then it was just a mass of speeding bikers. I was staying left and catching on to guys going forward with the hopes that we'd be the fast line and we'd surprise the right train. I was in an ok position, but looking back now, I might have been able to get in the top 20, but I wasn't going to win from where I was. With about 500m to go, some guy to the right of me squeezed over and all hell broke loose. I tried to hold him off, but got pushed far enough left that I think my front wheel caught on something and I got launched forwards. One other guy got taken out too and I honestly don't know if he hit me or if he got knocked down also. One guy who was on the back said all of a sudden he just looked up and saw my bike about 10 feet in the air. The good news is no bones broken and my squash is intact. I have more road rash than anyone deserves and if you must know, a lot of it is on my ass which is making for a very pleasant experience. The most concerning injury is some sort of groin muscle pull or tear that I could feel pop during the crash. It's swollen and almost feels like there's something missing where there should be a muscle.

The bright side, if there is one, is that I definitely had the fitness going on. Computer said avg speed of 24.5 mph, avg HR 145, max 175, distance 43.5ish. I looked down at one point on the finish road about half way through the race and HR was 119. Let's see how long it takes me to get back on the horse, that is when I have one to get back on. I've got one road bike that's trapped in insurance land and another that needs a damage assessment. I've got two wrecked Ksyriums and who knows what else. We'll see if they can be rebuilt or what. I've still got the SS and the mountain bike, so we'll see when me leg lets me get out.

There you go G... how's that for a report? Oh, I did see Kerry at the race. She said it was a pack finish in the women's pro and looked semi-satisfied. My teammate saw her later and says "Pink wheels... that's awesome!" :) There you go Kerry, tell the sponsors the crowd likes 'em too.

That's all bike racers and friends. Time to go change some bandages. Oh, and by the way, hold your lines please.

1 comment:

gewilli said...


*thumbs up*

word has it that the 3/4 race at palmer had at least 3 massive crashes...