Last week I raced out at Wonder Lake and while my results were decent, they left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The reasons for this were ultimately because I felt that I didn’t race how I “should” have AND I didn’t leave 100% of my soul on that road. Instead, I raced what the other riders dealt me and because of that, I didn’t get the result I had planned on.
So what was I going to do about it? I resolved that from here on out, I was going to race each race how I set out to. I would no longer react to the sprint, I would try to initiate it. I would no longer respond to the attack, I would lead it. And I would no longer delay my moves because I want to seek shelter in the pack, I would put my nose in the wind when needed. All in all, I refused to race anyone’s race but my own. But how much is in my tank? Do I REALLY know the answer to that? Do any of us? Today was one day I’d try to find out.
As Sherman Park is our race, there is the added responsibility of doing your part. Long story short, I stayed a little too long helping out at registration and got about a 3 minute warm up before my race. Oh well, I guess this would be a good reason to attack early right? So as we lined up with about 60+ racers, I tried to put myself on the front line so I could get to work from the get go. Unfortunately, I think some of the other teams wanted to either shell riders or make xXx do some chase work so they lit it up before we could. The first two laps all I saw was 30 mph on my computer; so much for moving up at the moment. After a few laps, things settled down and my teammate Adam went up the left to attack and I immediately moved up so I could grab his wheel. When he peeled off, I kept on going until I felt the fuse burning out and then I let someone else do the work. I then moved towards the back so I could recover. Fast forward to about 10 minutes in and a crash happens on the back stretch. I heard it before I rolled up into it, but it was “localized” so most of us were able to get around it with no problem. After settling back in, I kept monitoring the front as our boys kept the attacks coming and the pack working.
Somewhere around 20 minutes in, I had moved up the outside to about 15th wheel when I saw Nick about 30 meters off the front. I looked at the HR monitor and saw that I was “okay” so I decided now would be a good time to go to work again. I rolled off the front and yelled at Nick to come with me as I came up behind him. Unfortunately, I didn’t know he had been out there for a while so he was due to head back and recover. Oh well, I guess I have to keep going? I looked back and no one was chasing. I thought to myself “okay, I need to go harder, maybe me being off the front doesn’t look threatening enough.” I look back and still no one. Hey, I know there are 20 minutes left, but are you all really just going to let me dangle? Well, not being the one to just sit up, I decided I would see just how far I could push it. I rolled around for about a half a lap around 28 mph but all the time 188 bpm was flashing in my face. Another rider tried to bridge up to me but it looked like he got caught in no man’s land. Eventually after about a lap, I just about exploded but was finally caught by both the bridging rider and the pack.
So for the next 10 minutes I just entered la-la land and tried to get myself back in order. Six to go came up a lot quicker than I expected and for the next three laps, I couldn’t find a lane to the front to save my life. Adam wound up next to me and I yelled out “ I need a lane somewhere.” From there on out it was Adam and I shouting back and forth to each other/other xXx riders and we slowly moved through the pack. With 1 to go I found myself on the inside and everything looked to be moving good. I was somewhere around 15th wheel when between turn 3 and 4 the entire left side ran out of gas. Thankfully the right side picked up at the exact same moment and a wide split formed as they pulled out further on the right to clear themselves for the sprint. I gunned it into the split and then wound up way on the right sprinting with all I had left. In the end, I, Nick and Adam would go 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. The rest of the crew did well also with Ian landing on the podium in 2nd.
Field was a little bit smaller (only 50+ riders) but full of many of the same riders from the 4’s. We were all set up on the line about to go and bam – Mother Nature unleashed the heavens on us. So I rode my bike into the field house (literally) as we were told to wait it out. Well, we eventually were called back out, but not before I dialed the psi down on my tires to about 100. As we got going, I could tell that the pace wasn’t going to be as hot as the 4s (which averaged about 26.7 mph) but it was largely due to all of us wanting to stay upright. Another thing I could immediately tell was that I would not be doing a whole lot of work as my legs were a little tight.
I moved around the pack a little and monitored what was going on up at the front. Our guys did a pretty good job of controlling the pace and not too much looked as if it was going to get away. Much of the race was a blur to me but I do remember eating a ton of mud from the rooster tails and that at 20 minutes in we came past the start/finish line and I heard that we had 6 to go. I remained at the back until we got to 5 to go and Bob came up besides me. I took a look behind me and told him that I didn’t like where we were at. I gave it a little more time to open up, but I was getting antsy and wanted up to the front now. So between 4 and three to go I and Bob moved up the left until it shut down. Bob yelled that he was going over to the right and I decided to keep working the left. Everything was going good until I lost the downshifting on the rear derailleur for about a half a lap. I think it must have gotten jammed up with all the crud we were picking up in the rain. But when it came back, I just jammed it down into the 14 and left it there. There was no way I was going to win a sprint spinning at 150 rpm!
As we were finishing up two to go, I was somewhere in the front when John K came up on my left side. I started to shake my head and smile as I knew in my head that this was the tow truck I was looking for. As we got the bell, John was sitting second wheel and I was a little bit off sitting in third. The guy with John accelerated and I was caught off guard so I got gapped. For about the next half a lap, I just drove as hard as I could to try and get back into draft, but it was proving to be a challenge with all the work I did the race before. The pack started to come over the top of me between 3 and 4 and I was shuffled to about 20th wheel when I eventually started sprinting, but it was more so just mechanical as I had no real energy left. Oh well, 23rd would have to do. Blah…
After the race, Jeff from our shop (Get A Grip) took a look at my bike and said that my shifting was fine but that I needed a new chain and cog (which I had in the trunk of my car because I knew I needed them). So a big thanks to him for making the changes and getting me all set up.
So how much was in the tank? Enough. While I might not have the solo power of some, or the long fuse of others, I feel that I have a slow rolling diesel that doesn’t let up. It may not smack you in the face like a V12, but when it hits you, you’ll know it’s there.
So now it’s on to my next conquest, which is the 9 day Tour of America’s Dairyland Series. The races are long and fast and I’m sure I’ll be tested to my limits. But no matter what, I’m going to push it as hard as I can and see where that point of no return really is. You’ll never know if you don’t try and I want to know!