This week has been a bit funny on the bike. Flats, flats, and more flats. I woke up this morning and got ready but when I went to load my bike the rear tire was deflated. I pumped up the tire and heard the dreaded hiss. I changed the tire and the tube and got it installed. We piled into the car to head out a bit late. About half way to the race I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle on the counter. I had a gel, but no water, so I drank a bit of water in the car and prepared to be a little dry. I figured it was a shorter race, so I should be ok. Katherine suggested I just look around to buy a water bottle. I was going to get there just in time to register and make a quick trip around.
We got to the grounds and I found a Skratch Labs tent. I explained my sob story and they gave me a bottle with the mix I had planned to be drinking. I joked that if I won I'd let them know... I knew that I wanted to win but bike races are prickly things. I got out to find the start and hopefully get a few minutes of warmup in the legs. Luckily I had gotten the start time wrong, I had an extra half hour. Phew! I found a little stretch and started removing the bricks from my legs. I was not feeling good at first but it started to clear up. I figured it was not my day, so I may as well just enjoy it. I detected some rubbing of the wheel and got the wheel re-aligned. Things might be ok.
I got to the start line and took stock. I lined up close to the front and took a comment from someone who thought it was a queue and that I should be at the back of the line. Team Kurzawinski was out in force. I found one Morning Glory and made eye contact. I was glad to have a potential friend around.
The race was off and up the first hill I was not positioned too well but as we went up I wasn't pushing overly hard and yet I was moving up - Morning Glory workouts paying off. Kurzawinski had two front groups pulling on either side of the road. They weren't moving too quickly and were not very well organized. This was great for me, but I knew that there would be some plan coming up. I'd seen some videos of previous races and the last time up the hill there had been a small breakaway, so I assumed that was the grand tactic. I planned to be in that final break and go from there.
A single rider broke from the pack at the third cornr. Kurzawinski did not chase. I was a bit nervous to see the race move away from me already but figured we had time. At the second hill we caught him and I gave him a "Great Break" as we went past. He gave me a tired reply and were up the hill. The field was getting smaller and I was trying to stay as close to the front as I could. I had moved from 20th to about 6th and was trying to stay there. Morning Glory friend was there, so I shared my plan and told him we should go together. He agreed.
We got around to Old School Road and then the leader started zig zagging across the road. The first time we were nearly moved into the gutter and it happended a few more times. I detected the problem and became angry. I yelled "Taking Your Fucking Turn Pulling Through, and Keep Your Line Straight!" I moved to the front and looked at the offenders in the face and said very loudly "ENOUGH"
I started my pull. I did my turn, flicked my elbow. Nothing. "Pull Through!" from me. Morning Glory friend was there. We had some nice words about keeping it fast and safe. Things were looking up. We came to the downhill an had a laugh at people racing to a downhill, the race is on the uphill!
At the bottom the Kurzawinski team made a duo move. I was too far back and was not happy again. Luckily the move lasted about 500 meters. Great. The hill. I gunned it. There was an independent in the lead and I was on his wheel. As we crested the hill he started to recover, I yelled "Don't slow down" and pulled through. I looked back and he was gone and the peleton was a good deal behind. I was feeling good and confident. My speed was good, keep it up. My family was cheering half way through this straight and I could feel the excitement from them as I went past solo in the lead.
I got around the next corner and into the headwind. I knew I was going to slow down and hoped that the peleton was going to continue not working well together. They didn't. Even better, my Morning Glory friend later told me that he moved to the front of the group and sat up to give me some more space. I needed it. I was starting to doubt. I started to think about all of the people who had gotten me this far: Morning Glory, riding friends, family, friends. I had to keep it up. Once I wasn't caught along this stretch I figured that if I got to the top of the last hill and pedalled down it then I should have all but won. It was true. I got around the last corner, continued to pedal with what I had left and at 500 meters I could sit up and enjoy the moment.
My Morning Glory friend, NAME HERE, finished first in his age category depite helping me. It was a good day. My family arrived in time for the podium ceremony and I even lucked out and won a door prize of a Pedro's Chain Pig.
Overall, I really enjoyed the event. I caught up with the swerver and it turned out to be his first group ride. I wondered if the event might provide the beginners with a set of links to videos and writings about how to organize in a group. It is a beginner race and it seemed that there were even greener riders than me. Nobody crashed, but there were certainly some moments that made me uncomfortable that could have been avoided.