Monday, July 13, 2009

Unbelievably tired, but the show goes on.

Saturday, 4:30am alarm goes off and Ive slept well thanks to my friend Tylenol PM. Out the door to Columbiana to help put out hay bales and anything else the Quinlan's need. I fore go a warm-up of any significance and just tool around. The race starts on a course anyone of any ability has to fear a bit.

Non stop the course is throwing false flats, wind, descents with sharp corners, steep leg breaker rollers and a 3km climb with a KOM and open wind swept highways. The first acceleration reminds me I did two races the day before. I stay mid-pack and Shawn Adams launches and is chased by a Jittery Joe's rider and they are gone till the first climb.

We climb the KOM hill, but before the heads-up riders swarm and come around and now I am way too far back for the climb. So I just maintain and as the fireworks go off for the KOM I get gapped off a bit, but I am not worried because I wasnt in any trouble on the climb and I am surrounded by a ton of riders.

After were all back togetheer Tris launches as I move up the right side. Hey he read my mind. So now I am right at the front and Tris is moving away fast. Andy Moskal of RGF goes after him and I take off after Andy. I take a free ride for awhile as per racing etiquette. Marco Aledia of Inferno and Beizer of Jittery Joe, a strong rider from Essex Brass and Tom Burke from Lathrup/Giant came along and we moved on out.

I thought we had decent representation from all teams so I hoped we would be given a long leash. Everyone pulled, some more than others, but the Essex Brass guy and Tris seemed to be the real motors in the break. IN fact I had to miss a turn and resort the rotation at one point because I was getting fried trying to take pulls after the Essex brass guy.

We got gaps anywhere between 2 minutes and 2:15 on the first lap and what a relief to come through the start finish to conclude one brutally fast lap. I was also happy that Dan, Erin and Sam got to see two Carbon Racing team members n the break. I knew that would make them happy.

It didnt take long on lap two to start feeling the fatigue of hammering in a smaller group. We hit the first longer climb and the Essex guy attacks with like 30 miles to go and were all shaking our heads. We dont chase and eventually he comes back in to the fold, but is no worse for the wear.

We hit the KOM climb again and this time its such a smooth, even pace I am not sure if were going hard or not, but that it hurts bad. We just tap out our own rythms and stay in a tight little group. Over the top we know weve got the steep rollers now and we all seem to suffer equally. I am hurting bad, but I dont seem to be having too much trouble hanging on, but I do try to take it easier in the rotation.

Then we get a gap from the car and he says 45. I am thinking is that to the chase or to the pack? I yell for clarification, but he races away so fast we dont get to clarify and Burke, Jittery Joes and Essex Brass take off like scared cats at the news of our imminent catch. I feel like I can close the gap, I really do, but I try to be smart because i know one really long hard effort could be my undoing. I dont jump because I will work with Tris, Moskal and Aledia to close it, but no one jumps and by the time we hit the top of the roller and we switch to the big ring they are motoring and were all trying hard, but they are out of sight. They showed that they were strong and now they proved it.

In respect to those who have really suffered in real life tragedies, I must say that from here on to the end it was just a death march in a sporting sense. Were all committed then Tris' leg cramps so badly he cannot sit and pedal anymore and now were 3. The code of silence usually established during a long breakaway is broken and we talk a lot form here on out. Basically discussiing gaps, how far we are from the line and what terrain remains.

With 2 or 3 miles to go Marco gets this wild hair up his butt and takes one more whicked pull that I swear it was 400 watts sustained. That after 60 miles of hard racing. He finishes and I just look at him and say "Damn Marco, that hurt" as I roll by to take my turn. Now we can see waay back on the highway and there is no one there and we finally know that this long day has been worth it. We wnt get caught by the pack. We rotate to the last corner, but no ones putting any effort into it. We all stand up to jump before the corner, but I go first on the outside, but when Marco and Andy light up their sprints I go backwards quick and then roll in.

And somehow we did not get caught by a pack that was battling it out fiercely. They even got Dan Clark away in the steep rollers and he was the closest, catching Tris 500m beore the line. Then Brian comes in with a JIttery JOes and suddenly were back in the GC game with me in 10th and Brian in 11th. And Ive now scored points in two events!! I cannot be happier or more sore and tired. Tris, Batke and Matt have all placed well too. Awesome.

I drive my minivan with the Radio guy for the Masters race and learn all about amateur radio and am very well entertained by the Masters breakaway. We laugh as I critique the finish strategy of the guys in the break, screaming "why are you doing that?" "Get off the front, your giving him the win!!" We get a big laugh at my arm chair qurterbacking.

But tomorrows another criterium and as I drive home my brains so full of "what do I need to do, how can I ride a better crit" that I am halfway home before I even turn on the CD player. I ask Dan for the morning off from helping and I am so happy when he says, just help break down after!!

I am in need of comfort food and chow down on a double whopper as I drive home, catch up on the tour in HD, eat, relax and sleep in to a glorious 7:30!! When I get up I feel fine and I think I know a thing or two I had forgotten about crit racing, but I am honstly not feelng that confident of scoring any points. But I am going to will myself to try dammit. And I mean it. Friday night was just embarrasing.

This will come up later, but I dont take the attitude that I am the team leader now and when in the break Saturday I was the Carbon Racing leader with my one point. I think its funny that so many riders who probably dont deserve it ask or demand that their teams work for them all of the time, but when I am clearly in that position I am still not wanting to make demands, even though in the end its whats best for the team, not just me. I am not trying to make myself out as the angel, just that there are times when I need to realize I have to act like a leader and race appropriately. I blew a golden chance to win one of the most comptetive road races Ive ever been in by working too hard. IOW I raced to finish 6th, not to win. Thats got to change. Heck-I didnt even think about not working n the break.


JimmyNick said...

I really enjoyed catching up on TOTV by reading your posts. More fun than actually racing! (Well, more fun than reading the Velonews reports about Lance and Alberto ...)

ChrisFromOhio said...

You know, Ray, if you had not been working in the break, you guys might have been brought back when others with you took their cue, and the whole bubble might have just popped.

Maybe it's my novice talking but there are courses that you can win with tactics, and there are courses that are won by brute strength. Dan and Erin gave us a course that is two parts brute force and one part tactics, and having sat in the enclosure for your race, I really felt like I watched you and Tris accomplish something impressive.

Congrats on a monstrous effort.

ueberdiebruecke said...

In that situation, I wouldn't have 'not worked' unless there was someone else in the break 'not working'. But given the situation, I would not have done more than the least-working guy, and would have tried to ensure that at least I or my teammate could go with any attacks out of the break (that doesn't ALWAYS work though ... yes, the course can dictate the result there.)

Ray Huang said...

I am amazed anyone read all my reports they go on and on and on. Thanks for reading.

Brian, I had to resort to that on lap2 anyways I was so fried. That course was a butt kicker. Especially on little training or sleep.