Written by Steve Morse Sunday, 16 April 2006 00:00
After a mediocre warm-up, the Master's 30+ race was on. I figured I could use this race as a nice easy warm-up to do well in the 4's race. Boy, was I wrong. Right off the bat, (like the first five laps) the pace was so fast, that I was absolutley DYING, struggling to hang on to the back. I looked at my computer and we're doing 32 mph INTO the wind, and my HR was like 193. This continued until about the halfway point (just in time for me), where it settled down a bit and I started feeling much better.
I was able to move up a bit, but not much. When you're at the mercy of old pro guys like Dave Kellogg (ex-team mate of Lemond), Johnny Bold, and Randy Rusk pushing the pace, all you can do is hang on, ride your line, and hope you don't get kicked off the back.
On the last lap, I was towards the back again, getting ready for a nice roll-in after being strung out the hour. There was an odd peacefulness in the peleton. Right before the final turn, all hell broke loose. I heard a tire pop, then I saw bikes and bodies flying all across the road in front of me. I don't know how, but I skidded right through the mess and started sprinting with the other guys that made it through. Talk about an instant adreneline rush! I could hear more metal and bones hitting the deck behind me, as the train wreck ensued, but I didn't look back. (I later heard 20 riders went down, effectively splitting the race in 2). I guess a lot of guys had to stop and go around the pile-up, then sprint it out.
So, one second, I went from being in almost dead-last, and the next, I am sprinting for a top-10 because of a horrible crash. (I came in 13th). Better than I expected, for sure...
I was joined in the Cat. 4 race by fellow Bikeman, Tom Hopper. The race started about 15 minutes late as the ambulance was still scraped up bodies for the 30+ melee. The 4 race was a pure sketch-fest. Having just come off the 30+, it was like night and day. Guys were hitting their pedals on the first turn, and taking wicked stupid lines (and then not holding them). I spent time riding on the grass more than once. Unreal. Not smooth at all, it was so frustrating...and slow, but if you attacked, then everyone would accelerate and ride your wheel, but then not pass after you took the pull. I know, that's life in the 4's, but I was still getting pretty mad.
Being blown up from the previous race and all, I just hung out toward the front mostly, doing a few pulls, until the last lap. I couldn't believe how slow everyone was going for a bell lap, so I jumped on the front and led everyone around the last turn. I then realized I was on dead-empty, no sprint left at all in my reserves. I sat up during the field sprint and still managed a top-10 (8th place). Sort of a disappointment, but I was seriously tired.
Enough with this criterium crap! Give me some hills and lets go road racing!
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