Big Ring Rump-ass
As you all know (if you read this garbage at least), I had a racey race on Sunday, the Big Ring Rumpus. It was advertised as a hammerfest with minimal technical requirements. I didn't know exactly what to expect but given that description I figured running a single speed against geared riders as I normally do would be a bad idea. So the gears went on. Boy am I glad I did. The course was so freakin fast that I'd have had to have run a 34x13 to have a chance of surviving. A gear like that would make my knee caps explode if I hit a hill with a grade of .02 or above. As it was, I spent a lot of time in my 34x12 and 34x11. Lets just say that the course was fast, like probably 18 mph average speed fast.
It rained like a mofo for the whole 2.5 hour drive to the race but "cleared" up once I got there. The rain mercifully held off (mostly) for the whole race.
The race started (I actually typed sharted there initially) on a, shocking!, gravel fire road and we (10 of us in the expert vet field) immediately went from zero to eleven on the effort scale and a pace line immediately formed. My first thought was "holy shit, this is going to hurt" followed closely by "I probably should have properly warmed up for this" followed by "I hope it starts to thunder and lighting so they call this early". Shit was that hurting. More than normal race start hurt. In most mtb races you go ballz out for a bit but there is always a downhill breather or a technical area you have to pick through or something to allow you to catch your breath. Not in the Rumpus. With the largest hill being a whopping 5' of elevation gain and only about 2-3 rocks to avoid on the whole course it meant hammer down for 7 (seven!) laps. I don't know about you but I have a hard time keeping track of 4 laps in a typical race but seven? yeah, this might be a problem.
So here I am, in a world of hurt as we're pace lining wicked fast around the four mile course in 13 minutes flat trying my darndest to stay off the front. There were three guys doing most of the work, Brian Currier, Bob Carney and Brian Lavigne (three names I'm sure to get to know well as the season progresses). They wanted me too help to but I just couldn't do it. I was suffering with molten legs and wheezing like a fat kid on a treadmill. To be clear, when I say pace lining, I mean pace lining. As in your front wheel 6-12" from the wheel in front of you. It was one of the most organized pacelines I've ever been in during a road, I mean, mountain bike race.
The laps wizzed by with not much happening except for dropping riders in the group like flies. I was suffering but not so much that I wasn't keeping on my toes to avoid getting gapped. A 20' gap meant sure death if you didn't have a drafting partner.
Somewhere around lap 3 or 4 my legs started to feel a bit better so I took a few short pulls. Enough to keep my fellow pace liners from lynching me at the end of the race but not enough to totally shell me so that I'd get pooped out the back of our now 4 man group.
Bob and Brian Currier were obviously the strongest two in the group and I suspected I had no chance to out sprint them at the end but what little chance I had would be improved if I played it smart and didn't completely blow myself. Remember, it's not always the strongest rider that wins a road race, shit did it again, it's the rider who is smart AND strong.
With 1.5 laps to go, Bob and Brian picked up the pace a bit and Brian Lavigne let a bit of a gap develop. I was behind Brian but I didn't initially worry since Brian had always been good about closing any gaps. Work for me Brian! Damnit! Unfortunately, Brian had been hiding his fatigue well and before we knew it the two were gone. I tried valiantly to pull them back (for about 1 minute) but succeeded only in wasting what little energy I had left while still losing time so Brian L. and I settled into a somewhat slower paceline with a recently picked up expert senior 2 rider.
woops, the last two laps will have to come tomorrow.