Sunday, May 20, 2007

Do it right, come up short!!

Today was another good day and not just because I was racing my bike, but that Snake Bite worked as a team (we made some mistakes in hindsight, but...) and we got another podium finish in the Category 4 field at the Chippewa Creek Road Race that was hosted by PDQ Cleveland Bicycle Club. The course is a beaut starting atop the finish hill, turning right into some deep rollers and curves then coming out onto a road with a nearly straight and fast 45mph descent. The last part is by far the hardest and thats a false flat that gets steeper till it hits 12% grade and then levels off after a few corners, but continues to climb back to start finish. 400' of vertical climbing per lap and 7 laps. Not a long race, but the intensity of the course really can zap ya!! Especially if your solo and more on that later.

Team Snake Bite showed up with Jason, Gary (fresh from his win last week), Rick, Peter R, Pete S, John, Jeff, Bob and myself. Although our plan was simple, it was going to hurt!! We wanted to control the race from the front down the descent and up the climb every lap hoping to shed riders. The painful job was volunteered by Pete Scacheri and myself earlier in the week. My one concern was that no one or team would pull after we did and thats exactly what happened. On lap one Jason and Rick and Peter R hammered us down the hill with John, Pete and I in tow. Then Starks Darrin Kert would start the pull on the climb and after the start finish I would take over and pull to the corner. This went on lap after lap till I found myself with a nice gap with 3 to go. I said to myself, 3 laps, 12 miles, I might be able to do this and of course when I looked back I saw orange and blue smothering the front for me. Sadly Peter R dropped his chain early so he was race done.

With Snake Bites help I opened a big gap quickly, but sadly the will was there, but not the legs. My thighs were just tight and I couldnt pound over the rollers and keep my speed up. The next time up the climb I was back with the group and took a new strategy for the last two laps. Sit in!!

Although we got the group down to 10 early with our threshold riding, by the time we were through the rollers, we were back to 20. Where we may have made a mistake as Pete S and I discussed afterwards was that Pete was strong on our Tuesday preride on the rollers and we should have sent him on attacks all race long in the back keeping the speed of the group up and making it hard for stragglers to get back on. Pete rode strong again and is really learning the race craft (hes only done 5 mass start races with several top 5's!!). He listens to advise then absorbs it and uses it!!

So the last lap comes up and I am staying at the front, but Gary tells me to catch a break out of the wind (how cool is that) and he kept tempo up front. Finally the attacks started to come and I jumped from wheel to wheel staying about 4 to 5 back. Summit really got organized and talking and put a train on the front and we went flying down the descent. A little hairy, but fun!! Again I jumped from wheel to wheel, whomever was keeping the momentum. I heard John behind me urging me on the bottom of the climb and by the steepest portion I am on the front. A bit early, but I cannot slow down. I try to step up the pace a bit, but two riders (UPMC) the Lt blue jersey form RATL last week and another rider come by me on the right and I go with them. I think weve gapped, but I havent looked back yet as I am gauging my effort. I think they have gone too hard too early, so I wait for it to flatten out. I start to bring them back a tiny bit, but that only lasts a 100'. As it turns out they both had fresh legs and never let up from the 200 feet to go sign, but no one else had the legs left to contest the sprint other than the three of us. The two others sprint out 1-2 and I roll in a few seconds later with very tired legs, but a nice gap. Back in the field John takes the final paying spot for 6th while Gary and Pete roll in in the pack after good team races for both.

So in retrospect I guess all Team Snake Bites work did pay off because we went to the line for a field sprint, but there very few legs with anything in them to sprint (sadly including mine). Team Snake Bite raced like a Team again, we took care of each other , we planned and executed. I will say now that its over its a bit bittersweet as I really, really wanted to win this one!! We can play woulda shoulda all day and create situiations that would have led to a win for me, but in the end, we raced as a team, we did what a big team should do!! But third is not so bad considering all the work I did today.

Thanks Team,

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