As I improve my fitness and racing skills, I find myself shoulder to shoulder with more guys I knew I couldn't hang with for even a lap a few years ago. It's pretty cool, but I sometimes catch myself having a very brief moment of WTF/star-struck/intimidation. Then I usually get over it and launch some foolish and poorly timed attack that's destined for failure :) Sunday I got to have a couple of those moments courtesy of Wells Ave where posers like me have the opportunity to give it their best against the guys who are actually good.
A relatively quiet Sunday on the home front meant that I could saddle up around 8 and ride on down to Newton for some good ole training race action. It's only about 1:15 to get there and that's if you're just sort of cruising along. I knew I'd be early, but I also knew I was starving so I'd need time to eat again (and again) when I got there. I couldn't tell during the ride down or the warmup how the race would feel... it alternated back and forth between thinking/hoping a brake was rubbing and feeling just fine. So we get to the line and Bill tries to explain to everyone that we're doing a points race instead just for kicks. He tries to explain the format about 4 times, but guys are still confused (even though it was pretty basic: 1 point for each lap's leader, 3 and 2 points every 5 laps, double points at half-way and the finish, most points wins) so we joke up front that once Spinelli rides off and laps us we'll figure it all out. We roll off and apparently guys got the point that it was ON basically for every lap because two Pedro's guys take off and we're doing about mach 2 after them (with your's truly valiantly leading the charge until I felt like throwing up). We made it maybe 5 laps into the race and I think we had already had a couple near car incidents and I was just begging for someone to sit up and slow down just a hair. Then maybe 6 or so in we come around the big sweeping turn to the home stretch and all hell breaks loose. There are two cars STOPPED in the middle of the road so the entire field scatters. Somehow everyone stays upright, we ride around the cars and find that there is an enormous farking turtle in the middle of the road. I think it was the next time through that they called off the points race and just made it a straight crit.
So after my lap 1 pull I just went to hide for a while and didn't do a hell of a lot. I actually felt like crap for about 18 laps and decided I needed to try a gel to see if that helped. Well I almost managed to get myself dropped by drifting back to eat it. I did latch back on and very shortly after started to feel ok (plus I think the pace had slowed a little) so then me and another guy did a little work to try and tow someone up to the front for a prime. It was a pretty half-hearted effort, but it was work and I was still feeling better. Fast forward to 13 to go and I decided I had been hanging dangerously close to the back for too long so I should move up. Along the backside I was just finding guys going forward and latching on, picking up a few spots at a time. We got to the finish stretch and there were two guys sort of just dangling out front trying to make up their minds. I had been following a couple wheels up the left side when they both tucked in and I figured F it, those guys could use some company. They clearly weren't very far up because I bridged in about half a lap and shortly after a couple more guys came up too. We never really did get organized and I never really did recover from the bridge so maybe 2/3 of a lap later the front guy pulls off, peeks back and sits up. I peek back too and there's the train with Spinelli right at the front... Wait a minute, what am I doing in front of him... ever... at all... unless he's lapping me. Oh wait, cool, I got a little itty bitty gap on a field with Justin in it... Sweet! So retreat the to pack, try to recover, and see what's left. Now I can't remember if it was around now or just before the ill-fated attack that I noticed one of the Fuji guys, I rode up next to him, and noticed it was Frankie Mac (unless Mark was in Maine AND at Wells or someone else looks quite a bit like Mark)... Yes this was my other holy crap moment... brief moment of "I'm clearly in the wrong race" followed up "Well, that's pretty cool". Anywho... 3 to go and our guy wants to get near the front again so he's calling out to us to get him there. We did what we could, but the pack wasn't exactly taking it easy so he had a little to do when we had to pull off (we being me, a cat 4, and a guy who's 50+ and has barely ridden in a month). Well I drifted back into the pack again and realized I had probably quit on him too early because I wasn't totally blown so I tried to start moving up again a little, but you know how well that works when you're right on the edge of done and there's 2 to go. The good news is I didn't go cross-eyed and crash myself or anyone else. The better news is I was able to get out of the saddle and weave through a few guys on my way forward in the finale. The mediocre news is I was going hard for maybe 20th place.
Computer thingy told me we were a spirited 27.5 mph for this little affair. Maxed out at 34 and change when I made my blistering move to close a whole 6 second gap ;) Really not a whole lot I can complain about. Oh... and I got to ride with some guys who are pretty good...