Saturday, May 12, 2007

Felt Like a Pro Today

I hope every aspiring bicycle racer dreams of the day his team gets one of his racers into the winning break, the team blocks, other teams in the break work in the bunch and your rider wins the race.

Today was my first official race with Team Snake Bite at the last RATL race of the spring. John, Pete Scacheri and I drove together and we talked strategy the whole drive. ONce to the venue we hooked up with the rest of the team and spelled out the plans, leaving almost no stone unturned. We even discussed and pointed out to each other tidbits about other riders and who was likely to be strong today, who would throw attack after attack and which teams we thought would work and which would work against. As it turned out all the teams worked so well, I truly felt like I was NOT in a Cat.4 race, but a proffesional race.

So lets cut through all the usual stuff and get to the race report. A decent size field lined up and we were off. Not even out of the parking lot a Summit rider took a flyer. First suicide attack. No one chased of course. OnN Lap 3 we were to start our attacks, but other riders were throwing out weak attempts at jumps only to be drawn back in. On lap 4 a marked Stark Velo (SV) rider and a teammate took a flyer with some of our riders right on the front. Rick Adams yelled at Gary to go with this attack and Gary obliged. I thought about going, but when Gary went I stayed put. Also in the break was Noah from Summit. Now the race plan was in motion. Immediately there gap opened up with myself and another SV rider sitting on the front. They hovered within sight for a long time and the gap was probably 25 to 30 seconds. To be honest after reading all the race reports I was just waiting for a team to chase down there own man but they did not and even put guys on the front like us to just keep things kind of mellow. This went on for awhile then a rider in a lt. blue jersey started animating things. He wouldnt go hard enough to get a gap and we (mostly John) would just stick to his wheel like glue untill he phizzed out. This went on and similar attacks were thrown and either SV, or Snake Bite were quick to snuff it out. Jason was doing a lot of blocking as was John. It was awesome to see the race developing like this, but also many of us werent getting anything like a workout in. Eventually the break got far enough ahead they were out of sight. An Orrville rider took a flyer, but only managed to put maybe 5 or 10 seconds on us and we waited for him to come back. I went to have a talk with John and asked when we should start throwing down more attacks? I thought that 6 to go was too soon as it could cause the bunch to catch Gary and that we should wait. John did his best Bjarne Riis and wanted to think about it. But no sooner did we start to think about it than a SV rider went hard causing him to be reprimanded by his teammates. I thnk his move was to bridge, but he didnt get the gap and I think Pete got right on him.

Now comes the "will you shut-up" part of the race. Were finishing lap 10 when a rider behind us starts yelling "This would be a good time for a Summit or Snake Bite or blah, blah, blah team to start counter attacking". What a dork. I hope he doesnt think what happened next had anything to do with his great advice. But John and I are still next to each other and hes quietly, but very emotionally yelling at me to GO, Go now!! What John didnt know was the side I was on was blocked, but as soon as I saw daylight I drilled it as hard as I ever had I was full on it for the next 10minutes. I went so hard I reset the highest wattages I have ever done from 0.2 seconds all the way to 10 minutes!! All previous bests fell today. Amazingly what i thought was a flyer to set up John for a later attack or best case a solo for 5th became a shot at the win when all of a sudden, what do I see but the breakaway and I am gaining. It takes me the whole lap and then some to catch, but when I do I roll right up to the front and use my momentum for a pull before I give my heart and legs a good rest. Once on I encourage the guys to keep the pressure on even though its clear that Snake Bite is blocking and blocking well as the pelton is quite a ways back. We finally hit the bell lap and Noah takes a flyer and we are content to keep him within 20 feet. Once back w/ us we start to slow and play cat and mouse. I am confident we wont get caught so I position myself 4th behind the two SV and Gary. I meant to talk to Gary to ask if he wants me to lead him out, but never do. As we get the bridge in sight I make a mistake and am on the left of the 2nd SV rider while Gary is on the right side of the road and Noah is behind. Gary goes and he goes hard. We set off for him, but this time (i usually jump first) I stay right behind the 2nd SV guy hoping for a draft. After the steep I drill it, but the 2nd SV has been gapped or intentionally gapped himself to his teammate and as I go by the one, I start to catch the other, but its of no use as I wont catch 2nd. I shouldnt have half wheeled the SV rider and stayed right with Gary as i knew about his finish speed. But the best part was Gary's explosive attack got him the win for Snake Bite and himself as I rolled in a happy third place. Behind us John easily took the field sprint and another SBR rider took 8th. The first RATL when I got 4th we went 29mph up the hill across the line. This time I went across at 31mph which aint to shabby for an uphill sprint.

Not a shabby day and you remember my first paragraph about a dream race, well this one was it for me. We got our man in the break, we helped control the race from the front of the peleton and the whole team helped. I bridged the no mans land to the break solo with my team blocking and I recovered enough to podium!!!

Truly-it was like being in a race you see on TV and I will remember this one for a long time. Congrats again to Gary Burkholder and thanks to the whole team-what a classy race we all pulled off.

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