Sunday, August 12, 2007

Orrville Milk Race Breakaway Day! 08/12/07

This was supposed to be the 60 mile epic Kinzua road race in PA, but a good friends birthday party out of town on Friday and then the next day another friends bachelor party made the 3 hour drive at 4:30am seem unappealing. My coach and another local rider made the trip and both placed in the top 8 so that was great for them. So after two days of travel, too much food and drinking (and an awfully played game of golf) I was tired, but excited for this race. Luckily Dave Steiner drove me to Orrville.

My very strong teammate on Snake Bite Racing Chris Bilowich was trying his hand at his first 2/3 race and also lining up was the equally strong Dave Steiner. We hashed out some plans to get guys in every break and hopefully get someone away in the end.

The race started and I dont know how many miles in but the attacks already started. I lost count how many guys jumped away. I know Tris was one of the first away and he rode someone off his wheel. In the middle was Lake Effects Diffenbacher no doubt warming up. I started to jump into or chase down attack after attack by myself. I was getting tired already and this was only Lap One!!

On a course like the Milk Race theres nothing selective on it. That means no long or steep hills or endless rollers. This course is , I dont know how to describe it, a solid, fast circuit race course with 6 corners and a short hill on the backside and on this day had some headwind sections. But this also means that the race is decided on pure aggression pure and simple. Attack and attack and attack-so basically keep throwing attacks at the wall till something sticks!!.

I think on lap two I was again in several breaks, the best being Batke, Hopkins myself and someone else ( cannot recall a face or jersey). But this break didnt have Dan Quinlan, Lake Effect or Stark Velo in it so reportedly Quinlan and Thor among others brought us back after several miles. In a way this was good because with so few in the break the pulls were coming fast and furious. I dont think I was warmed up enough for this kind of attacking yet.

As soon as we were brought back I was waiting for the Lap 3 counter attack and I wasnt sure I'd be recovered enough yet, but I stayed near Quinlan to mark his move. It wasnt very long aftewards and the attacks came again and again. I was able to go again and this time the group had two COBC, three Torelli, MVC (Quinlan) and a guy form Oregon and of course myself. Only Lake Effect and Stark were missing of the big players.

The breakaway was working perfectly. In fact I think for two laps we didnt even break our line-up working a near perfect rotating paceline. Not a word was spoken for 20 miles too and we avergaed 25+ mph laps. Dave said the peleton had lost about 10 guys too, showing how fast the race was. My buddy John Reade flatted though. He was having an active race too. As we rolled away Chris and Dave put a stopper on the field getting us the gap, so some great teamwork for Snake Bite there. After that Dave was getting yelled at for not helping to chase from other teams, but that was pretty funny since he had me up the road. Also teams not represented in the break couldnt get there acts together to work for the common good (good for us). Chris at some point broke a spoke too-DARN!! He was now out.

On the last lap up the climb on the backside I set what I hoped was a fast tempo to ward off any attacks. I thought of putting it in the big ring over the top and drilling it to maybe cause another selection, but I wussed out even though I came over the top first and feeling not too bad. But the rider form Oregon did what I thought about and Batke was quick to bridge. With Trueh and Hopkins back to cover the field, this was a perfect move. I only wish I had gone with my gut instinct when I thought the same thing. Of course a Torelli guy would have to have gone with me for it to work.

I was working to bring them back and one of the COBC guys was helping too, but Torelli was working us over hardcore by screwing up our rotation. I was suprised that Dan wasn't helping much, but afterwards he said he wasnt too strong at the end so maybe he was just trying to get to the finish. They were within what I thought was my striking distance of a last dig, but I decided that a move like that would help the other 6 more than it would help me , especially if I didnt make it. For sure I would have pulled the group within striking distance.

Finally in the last km or so Tris must have known his teammate was far enough up the road so he launched his early attack (before the last corner). I again didnt jump and sat in with the last 3 guys and when Dan jumped at about 180 meters I finally jumped, but Dan and Tom were too fast for my tired legs and I rolled in 7th knowing that 8th had popped behind me.

In the field Dave knew we had a top 8 finish in the bag and he wanted to take places 8,9 or 10 for us too, but he wasnt quite positioned well into the last corner and couldnt use his good sprint this race.

It was so gratifying to make the breakaway with such fast local talent!! I was for sure the only Cat.3 in the bunch as well. And I am learning so much race craft with every race. I think I am already a pretty pure racer anyways, but I will be learning and making mistakes or second guessing split second race decisions for many years to come, but for now its great. I am seriously pumped about this season!!

By pure racer I mean that mentally I dont worry about finishing till the end. I think about aggresion that can pay off, what break to go in and what to ignore, to help or not to help bring back attacks Snake Bite is not in, burning matches wisely and always, always try and be in the winning move. Much to work on, but hopefully with the mind focused and my coach and teammates helping, were again building for 2008.

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