Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ZOAR 2009

I am sitting having a glass of scotch from Marshall who races for Stark Velo. I think it fitting since this post is about the ZOAR race. One of my favorite local races. I was looking for some past data on the race and noticed in 2007, my first year racing I finished 6th in the Cat1-3 race (Or was it 2,3 then?). Anyways in 2008 my team mate Batke won and I tried to solo in for 3rd, but got caught about 3 miles or so form the line after a Dan Quinlan attack shut down most of my 20+ second lead on the infamous Middle Run climb.

My point being that this race dishes up a different race every year. Some courses have a break form on this lap or always breaks up here or there. Zoar does usually break up, but it happens sometimes by attacks on the flats or a move finally sticks on Middle Run. I would even argue the real drama on this course is caused by the descents after the two climbs. Maybe not directly, but they are so critical that one has to take them into account when attacking.

I hope I am not being too forward in saying that it looked like a Panther/RGF vs Carbon Racing event. I know Thom Domonic with his ever improving and diligently working Spin squad had that in mind when he took the suicide attack from the gun. And his move with one other rider lasted a good 20 or 25 miles. No one team wanted to drill it long enough to bring them back and after two and a half laps I felt the race was too slow. Not hard enough to drop anyone on the two climbs so I bridged.

It worked as planned. I bridged fairly quickly, but did not bury myself because I knew we had zero chance of staying away. But the move worked in getting the attacks going. And finally on the third lap the fireworks started with attacks and counters. Not only Panther and Carbon were attacking, but we were quite a few of them and got in quite a few others. Cioccio was especially active and some other independent riders.

It seemed I was always on Andy Clarke's wheel when he went after Dan or Matt or Brian's attacks. Finally on lap 3 Tris attacked the field on the way to the Middle Run climb. That was decisive and a brilliant move because it allowed the climbers and the strongest riders to hit the climb tired causing a big enough gap to the ones who were hoping to lose only a few seconds climbing and gain it back on the descent.

Dan attacked hard to bridge to Tris which put Paul Martin on the defensive as we started climbing. He surged once and I stayed on. Then he surged again and kept the pressure on as it started to downpour There is a great picture on the Stark Velo site which I will try and get of the move. I was about seeing stars, but stayed right on Paul's wheel. But this move came back after awhile (that darn descent again).

The next lap I am a bit fuzzy, but I know Tris brought us to the climb fast again. As we climbed and topped over we had Matt, Dan and myself and had isolated the other teams with one rider a piece and we had a big gap over the top. Dan drilled it down the descent and I only had to follow Andy to Dan. When we finally got to him Matt and I started working by taking pulls. You know how you get that "feeling" that your in the winning move? Well this had it and since we had numbers I felt for sure we could attack to get one of us away solo for the win with one lap to go. But somehow by the time we got back to Dover-Zoar road we were back as a group. Really a bummer. But we planned on getting multiple guys in every serious move and we did it as planned.

But it didnt matter for me because a couple miles down Dover Zoar and my rear tubie flatted, pss,pss,pss,pss,pss.... It probably lost 80% of the air, but it was spongy enough that I was able to ride back to the car without damaging the rim. I was a sad little bike racer riding back to the car doing the what-ifs.

As I have previously mentioned this was probably my last road race of 2009. And I was only able to attend due to the coaxing and help of the east side racers. Thank you all so much!! I feel as we all do after a DNF that I could have been there at the end!! But its no big deal. I raced hard, attacked, bridged, made the splits and worked hard for the team and climbed near the front every lap. What more could I do? But seeing as I went into the race hoping for a top 3 (or win?)and end the year on a high note but flatted, I do feel a bit bummed. It was a very fun race tactically and Carbon raced their collective asses off and that was fun to be a part of too. We took 1st (top 5 given same position) and 7th!! Been great racing with you guys!! Hopefully I can do one more race (Shreve or Milk), but I doubt it.

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