All or Nothing
By William Pankonin | May 17, 2011
Race name: Monsters of the Midway Criterium
Race date: Saturday, May 14, 2011
I watched the first Master’s race while warming up and noticed that the wind was coming across the course from north to south, and I thought more and more about the possibility of an attack succeeding in my race since the attacker would never have the full brunt of the wind on those long straights. I lined up with Randy, Luke, Kirby, and Chris, and the officials blew the whistle. I don’t remember many details for the first part of the race, but can recall us keeping an eye towards the front of the group to make sure that we, a full and expert squad, did not miss out on any moves. I was on the front once or twice, in the back, and along the sides. Once, I attacked early only to sit up as I did not have much of a gap and the field read it directly. With about four or five to go, Luke attacked on the back stretch up along the left side. I was opposite of him on the other side, so didn’t see if guys went with him or if he got a gap and was then brought back, but by the time we got through turns three and four, and then back to the start-finish, his speed had strung affairs out into a clean line with three to go.
Luke wanted off the front and swung wide left. The line followed. No one wanted to move up. I was already on the right side eating some wind as we approached turn one, the windiest section on the course. In a matter of seconds, the field would soon slide over in order to make the turn. I made my move here, and kept the attack going through the turn, and then out of the turn as hard as I could and for as long as I could stand. Result? Gap! What an opportunity with the corner being right there after Luke had just hit the gas, and with wind keeping everyone’s attention on their front wheels being blown around, and not everyone’s eyes watching me heading on down road.
So I drilled it around the course to the start finish, and Alan called out eleven seconds with two laps to go. “Not a lot,” I thought, but I had to keep going. I took the corner tight as fast as possible and hit that little hole. The front wheel bounced just as a huge gust of wind blew into me. Close call. The field entered the corner as I cleared out. Down the back side, I got some company as a rider bridged and joined me in the effort. He took a turn from the west side up to just about the start line, and I noticed things became a little less painful. I remember thinking that this was okay, and that I was fine. Alarm bells began ringing. Easier is DANGEROUS! I believe that if you are not close to your limit in a late break, you will be caught. While in a solo break with two to go, you should be cursing your own existence. My turn to pull came as Alan hollered out, “ten seconds!” on the bell lap. I needed to go faster, so I did. I glanced back before turn one and my break-mate was a bike length behind. I turned around and kept pedaling without flicking my elbow.
I really, really need to thank my teammates. Alan told me that coming out of turn two, the field had made an effort to catch me, and dropped my gap to seven puny seconds. Having these experienced xXxers helping me, made a HUGE difference. One more second closer may have given two or three powerhouse racers the motivation to drop 800 watts and bridge the gap. I heard my own lungs gasping for air -intense pain and nervousness. I couldn’t see through my dried contacts and had to blink rapidly to generate some moisture. Before turn three, I heard the announcer over the PA say that the field was not going to make the catch. The front of the field had sat up!
I made the final turn and immediately got out of the saddle, which must have looked like slow motion. I looked back once. Ten or so seconds is not a long distance with these dudes charging up from behind you. If I didn’t sprint as hard as I could all the way, I thought they might catch me. No post-up after I won, only a bike-throw and some swerving from oxygen depletion. My teammates were there immediately. Thanks fellas for your sacrifice and your belief in me. Thanks Alan and Adam and everyone for screaming at me during the race. This will always be a special win.