Missed the break? Now what?
By William Pankonin | Jun 25, 2010
Race name: ToAD Greenbush Road Race
Race date: Thursday, Jun 24, 2010
One of the last true road races on my schedule. I really wanted to do well. Top ten at least. I took in the relaxed and easy atmosphere, lining up in the middle of our field of about 40 racers. We rolled out in neutral start, chatting about the other ToAD races and about who was who, and who was wearing the spotted yellow leader’s jersey. Then the race began and we continued to chat and yawn, and then a we noticed a rider way off the front in the distance. WAY off the front. Couldn’t even make out the jersey. Whatever. This race was pocked with hills and 50 miles long. Brave move for sure. I continued in the middle and often towards the back. I can only guess that while I loosened up in the lounge, riders bridged the move off the front one and two at a time, unbeknownst to me and many others. By the time we finished the first lap, those riders had turned the corner way before us, and I knew that was it. There were maybe 5 riders in the break. They would go on to put several minutes on the whole field. It’s a horrible feeling to see your best and strongest chances slip away like that. Had I positioned myself at the front, I could have paid attention and made a bridge attempt, been IN the break.
But hey, we still had 4 laps! Plan B. We ticked off two laps and nothing happened. I might not have ever left my endurance training zone. So, with two to go, I moved up front and picked up the pace. A guy attacked and I covered his wheel. He immediately sat up, but I kept on going. My largest gap touched the 20 to 30 second mark, but on the downhill, as I hammered away at my 12, a line of horses whizzed by me. “Good work.” “Nice job.” Maybe we dropped some folks, I don’t know. I found a slot and got in line. I just couldn’t ride around waiting for the end, and I could not end this race with fresh legs. There is something very unsettling about finishing a hilly road race of 50 miles with good legs.
We would hit the last turn all together. I studied this last 500 meters well, and knew the sprint would come late. There was a breeze and a slight uphill. About 5 riders blew up on the left side and I went by. What! Space! I could see a line! Right as I began to mash and shift, a rider went down in front of me. I move my left pedal up so it could clear his wheel, which was sliding over into my line. Good thing no one was on my right when I swerved. Then I went between two riders who seemed, well, a little shaky. When it was all saidd and done, I had lost my sprinting momentum and only finished 16th.
A great race, though. Love these Dairy Land gigs. Also fun to be active in the race, even after you realize your best chance is up the road.