A Bridge Too Far
By Brian Morrissey | Jun 16, 2008
Race name: Sherman Park Criterium, Elite Men's 4
Race date: Saturday, Jun 14, 2008
Master’s 4/5, 30+/40+.
No warm up. In fact, the race was going to be my warm up, so I decided to just have my fun with it. The race stayed together, sloppily, by lots of attacking, chasing, and counters.
Obviously, not much to tell here, from my vantage point, other than a few inconsequential flyers, until the end of the race. About 200 meters from Turn 2, there was a incursion of mulch onto the course, laid down by the city to soak up the mud and rain water from the week’s earlier storms. It was always a little dicey there as people moved avoid it, and with the speed ramping up on the last lap, I suddenly found my handlebars locked with another rider.
He started to panic a bit, and I just kept it steady and increased my speed and we came apart without incident. But the box-in kept me behind the initial move, and once I was free I had to swing all the way to the right approaching Turn 4 to try to catch up. While I was effectively protected, and I did make up several places in the last hundred yards or so in the headwind, it was way too late and the best I could manage 12th overall, 7th in the 30+, just out of the points and the money. XXX did get the win, however, with Newton getting the benefit of a monster leadout by 5’s winner Kyle Wyberg.
At this point I just abandoned my list of volunteers altogether, and relied on a system of badgering as many people as possible to marshal, as well as standing on the start/finish line and yelling while I waved the green vests over my head. I would periodically cruise the course to make sure all 12 posts were covered, and finally 20 minutes before my second race - the straight 4’s - I got on the trainer for a brief warm up.
I was late getting my lap to the line, and should’ve just gone straight there, because as I rolled back up, Alderman Joan Thompson was already blowing the whistle and away we went. Aaack!!!
Or I should say, away they went; for as I was at the back, not even clipped in, Peter and several others were already breaking away. It didn’t concern me, but it should have. Several strong riders, Calvin, Sean, plus Henry and Chris of Pegasus, stayed back with me while two more XXXers – Newt and Chris – bridged up early. We just thought at first it wasn’t going to stay off, but we realized too late that suddenly there 12 riders in that break, including a pro-triathlete, the winner of the Master’s 4/5s, and a sandbagger who’d just submitted his upgrade that very morning. Now it wasn’t so much of a break as it was a field split, and all of us wanted to be up…there.
Desperation dictated dynamics in the back from then on out. Yet, with surrealism I calmly noted the several few open marshal posts along the course. I was going to have to really stay on that after the race.
Twice I tried to bridge up with larger groups, both on the back of Pegasus’ Chris Padfield. And later, as I was outsprinted for a prime and still going while the winner sat up, Jon flew past me with, “let’s go! We got a gap!” Sure enough we had 50 meters and growing, and away we went for two laps on our own. The best we could manage was 25mph, while the lead group was surely doing much faster that with far more opportunities for recovery. We were back in soon enough and nothing more got off.
They were announcing primes for our group however, and with two to go I heard a suicide call and bell. “Screw this” I thought. I’m going home with something other than a 13th place finish, at best. And between Turns 3 and 4, I jumped hard, and crossed the line well ahead of our pack. Having won my prize, I sat up as the final lap move passed me after Turn 1 and I cruised in well behind the sprint.
Imagine my dismay upon being told my number was not on any prime list, although others said there was definitely bell with 2 to go.
Who knows where my head was in that race…on more important things, to be sure. Keeping these little ankle-biters off the course.
Helping the race director make sure everyone had a safe race.
And we did.
Thanks to all who helped.