I've had some success in the training crit series in the past but it's been years that I'd been doing a bit more structured workouts. All sorts of timed intervals and other nonsense. I don't have the mental aptitude for that any more so I now prefer to get my training the old fashioned way. By getting my ass kicked. I knew driving down that the day would be painful. I just wasn't sure how painful. If you remember back, I had to beg and plead with USAC to get upgraded to cat 4 so that I could do the A race in the series which meant that I was really a cat 5 racing against cats 1-4. 4's I can hang with. Maybe even 3's on a good day but 1's and 2's? Forget about it. Those guys are animals. Thankfully, most of the local animals were in Vermont contesting a two day stage race so it was mostly 3's and 4's I'd be throwing down with.
When the race started, I hoped for a few easy laps since I hadn't had time for a proper warm-up. Sadly, on either the first or second lap, a group of 5-ish guys jumped off the front. I didn't respond at first because I figured the group would. When the group didn't two other guys launched attacks to bridge up to the leaders. I was then that I realized that this could actually be the winning move on the day. FIVE FREAKIN MINUTES INTO THE RACE! So, despite not being warmed up again, I jumped off the group and quickly reeled in the two guys in front of me putting us about 200' back from the leaders. I knew I was in trouble already but hoped that if I could grab the back of the lead group I'd be able to rest a bit a hopefully recover. Training races are all about doing stupid stuff right???
I pulled the other two guys to within 20' of the leaders but when they pulled around I literally couldn't muster any more strength to grab their wheels. I hovered between 20-50' off the back for half a lap but couldn't make any headway and the massive headwind on the backstretch was killing me so I decided to sit up and wait for the main field.
When I got back into the group, the next 8-9 laps (out of 20) disappeared in a fog of panting, the screaming in my legs, the bile taste in my mouth and silent, silent tears. I was literally death on a bike just hoping and praying that there wouldn't be any sudden increases in speed.
Finally, with five or six laps to go, I began to come around. Not enough to launch an attack but enough to position myself near the front so that if anyone else attacked I could jump on board. I either went with or brought back a few failed attacks leading up to the end with not much to show for it except for one sphincter clenching close call. In a sweeping 25mph curve where you can get a really good lean, I was sitting third wheel and as we went through the corner I drifted a bit to the outside while the guy in front of me took the corner a bit tighter than I expected and we rubbed wheels. Thankfully, I'm still not sure how, I managed to stay upright (and avoid massive road rash).
The last two laps saw me trying to conserve energy to attempt to contest the bunch sprint (the three remaining leaders were literally 500' up the road but we weren't catching them) but, stupid me, thought we were coming in for one to go on the final lap and missed my chance to not do well in the sprint. Oh well, pack fodder it is.