Saturday, December 08, 2007

Just keep the round side down

And no I don't mean my sort of round head...

Today was the last tuneup before the big dance and my only goal was to not injure myself or my bike. Unfortunately I was riding sans-tubulars since they were off being reglued and I definitely could have used them. After a 5:45 pickup by GD, we made the long trek to Warwick to discover that they had a nice dusting of crunchy snow everywhere. I had no idea what to expect for the course except I knew there'd be some beach and some woods at the venue. The heated indoor bathrooms were a nice treat when we got there (although the high heat added to an unpleasant smell by the time we left) and then it was off to explore. Temps were cold but seemed very tolerable esp compared to Sunday. The course was, well, interesting. Uphill pavement for a long stretch, onto the grass, through a fun little corkscrew thingy in a bowl on the grass, into the woods, onto the beach, some dirt path, a tricky down/up(run)/down through a mulched hillside, long pavement, more woods, a grass off-camber that got real greasy later, back on the pavement, wipe hands on pants, repeat. Note that there were NO barriers. They put them up right before the grassy off-camber, and promptly had to take them down when they realized that whole patch where they were was frozen solid and icy. No idea if they went back up later when it warmed up, but they were gone for the 9, 10, and 11 start times.

The course changed continually during warmups as the snow and ice got ridden on and the sun came out. Very few sections were treacherous, but lots would smack you off your bike if you weren't paying attention. My clinchers sucked on the stuff so I knew I'd have to pay close attention and probably had to be more cautious in the turns. One thing that really sucked was that as the thaw started, my shoes got real wet and it was cold enough that by the end of the race, my feet were totally numb. I was pegged for the 5th row, but with the wide road, it was more like second as people fanned out. Whistle blew and I was off like... well... . I've had 2 races this year where mentally and physically I was somewhere else at the start: Canton and today. At Canton, I didn't feel like I started racing until lap 2 and then I was flying. Today, I felt like I took the first 1/2 lap off which hurt me because we only did 4 (GD only rode for like 33 minutes in his schooling of the B masters). Not sure what it is, but I know part of it today was that I'm still a little gun-shy in a pack from the year I've had and I don't trust crossers in a pack jockeying for the hole shot. Knowing that I almost NEVER get passed in a race, I decided to just sit and take my chances.

With my 1/2 lap parade, about 1/3 of the way through lap 2 I hear "on your left" and some dude in blue flies past. 2 seconds later "Sorry Rich, on your left" and there goes Gary. For a second I was like "He rocks" then I was like "Wait you a-hole, get on his wheel". I tried desperately and held a little contact and then Gary got taken out just before the mulch pit. We made the runup together and when he got to the top, his rear wheel was out of whack so he got stalled. Over by where the barriers should have been he catches up again and I offered him a pull when we hit the pavement... my offer must have sounded like that siren reverb you get when an ambulance speeds by because he passed me that fast... ok, I guess Gary feels good. Rest of the race was fairly non-descript... passed people as usual, but not tons. Rode ok on the turns and hammered the straights. Didn't do anything stupid and kept it upright (goal achieved). I was around the grass off camber when I heard Fries yelling "And here's Gary David and he's the A-student today" which pumped me up to dust a few guys on the finish stretch. I have NO CLUE where I finished... might have been top 20, but barely. Nothing special about my finish except for having fun, getting dirty, and coming home safe.

I'm going to try and blog daily from KS... my kids want to see pictures anyways so I'll see what I can do. Hope to see many of you there.

Results are posted (good to see them get them on the web already despite not being able to get the paper copies up for over an hour after the race) and I came in 15th. With all due respect to the other 4's that busted ass today, I kinda took today off so I'm taking this as a good sign for The Big Show...

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