Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How It Went Down....

Bike racing can be a funny beast -- unpredictable, seemingly nonsensical, and extremely unique. My odds of winning the Brad Lewis Memorial Crit this weekend were not good -- I'd (generously) have given myself one chance in 15, and yet, there I was atop the highest step of the podium on Sunday. To further illuminate what I mean, I'll share with you the writeup I sent out to our team listserve, along with some snippets from my personal inner monologue. Enjoy:

It wasn't a pretty day -- cold, and anywhere from a drizzle to a downpour -- but it was a good day. {We're going to die out here -- this weather would make for a bad day on The Deadliest Catch, let alone good crit weather. I'm an idiot} In attendance: a mere 30 of the region's 1/2's, but a quality field nonetheless. {wow -- look at all these other guys -- we're all idiots. Idiots: what we lack in reasoning, we make up for in numbers} Almost all the heavy hitters were present (the only notable exception being Ian Tubbs), including many of the previous year's winners. We had a solid squad: Lang, AJ, Cooper, Benny, Ross, Steve Fisher, Adrian (fresh off his previous day's victory at volunteer park), and myself. {my team doesn't need me -- I mean Adrian could probably win this race with his eyes closed -- I wonder if they'd notice if I just rode home...} With that small of a field, and 90 minutes on the clock, we knew that a group was likely to break off the front and lap the field; once the right combo of guys went up the road, there would be too few organized (or capable) chasers to pull them back. {ten minutes into the race: ok, time to get in the mix here -- put in an attack -- nope, not letting me go -- cover a move -- nope, that's not going anywhere either -- put in another attack, this time into the final corner -- NEARLY FUCKING CRASH!!! -- yikes that was close, I fishtailed around that corner like an old rear-wheel-drive Nissan pickup (aka my car) on an ice rink} What we didn't expect was that it would take nearly an hour of steady attacking before someone finally got away for good. Groups would form off the front and get tiny gaps, but for whatever reason never got past that breaking point where a single strong dig from someone in the field could pull everything back. {twenty minutes into the race: ouch ouch ouch ouch -- my legs are burning -- I think there's something wrong with my quads -- I can't see a thing -- this is miserable! I'm miserable! what on earth am I doing out here? maybe I should fake a flat tire...} We played our game as usual, taking turns covering moves. We snagged a few primes (including an especially burly 4-lap solo flier by Cooper that won him two primes in a row). {man I can't see a thing -- who is that up there holding off the field for all those primes? it looks like Cooper, but that's -- wait -- it is -- dang Coop you been eatin' your spinach!!!} It wasn't until at least halfway through the race that Adrian got away solo. {it was only a matter of time} He said he had to counter his own move three times to do so (which did a good job splintering the front of the field into several tiny chase groups), but finally he got off the front alone. At first, I was just trying to defend Adrian's move by marking a chaser, {now where do you think you're going?} but ended up sort of surfing up to the front of the race: three times in a row I sat on a guy who took a deep dig to close the gap in front of him, and once he'd gotten me most of the way there, I pounced him and closed the gap. {thank you, come again} Eventually I leapfrogged my way to Ryan Iddings (Lenovo), who was the first guy chasing Adrian. By the time I'd made it up to his wheel, we were pretty far off the front of the pack. I sat on him for a lap or so, but Adrian wasn't too far up the road (15 seconds or so), and I smelled opportunity: if we got up to him, there was a good chance we could take 1st and 2nd. {allright, we're off the front -- now all we have to do is close the gap on Adrian -- shouldn't be too hard -- he's only a few seconds up the road....} If I continued to sit on Iddings, I was willing to bet that he'd fade and go back to the pack, so I pulled through, and worked hard with Iddings to get up to Adrian. Adrian was looking absolutely fantastic -- smooth, powerful, precise. {holy mother of god, we're not putting any time into him at all! I'm cracking here! Adrian, for Pete's sake, look behind you!} I have no doubt that he could have stayed off the front all by himself the remainder of the race, but after looking back and seeing we were coming across, he slowed down enough that we could catch him. {Ok, we're not going to bring him back -- "tell Adrian to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN" maybe he'll get the memo on the next lap and wait for us} I actually dug a little too deep while bridging and had to sit on for a few laps {"I'm gassed -- I've got nothing, I need to sit on for a few" -- wow -- I'm riding like a maniac -- I can't take any of these corners like I'm supposed to -- why is it raining so much harder? -- holy shit these guys are stro--neaRLY FUCKING CRASH AGAIN!!!} fortunately Adrian was feeling good, and Iddings was all too happy to keep pulling his brains out. Mountain bikers -- gotta love 'em. Or at least racing against 'em (no offense Ryan). {I hope this guy realizes he doesn't have to work as hard as he's been working -- maybe he just feels phenomenal -- maybe he just--oh SHIT, COMIN' IN HOT!!!! at this point I miss a corner all together, riding off the course up onto the sidewalk -- SIDEWALK --BUSHES -- TELEPHONE POLE -- SPECTATORS --YIKES......phew....that was close}

With about ten minutes left in the race, we saw the tail end of the pack, and finished lapping the field fairly quickly. {ahhh -- we're closing in -- perfect, Iddings is pulling -- wait for it -- waaaait for it -- ok he's pulling off - POUNCE -- sweet, I'm going to make it -- sorry Ryan} As soon as I made contact, I went straight to the front of the peloton, gathering as many teammates as I could on the way -- Morgan Schmitt, last year's winner was stuck in no-man's land, and I did NOT want him to reconnect with the group, so for the final four or five laps we whipped up the pace. {"ALLRIGHT HAGENS, EVERYONE TO THE FRONT, PUT YOUR BACKS INTO IT!"} Lang took us from 4 laps to 2 laps to go all by himself -- I could hardly hold his wheel. {ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch} With two laps to go, they rang the prime lap bell, and Cooper, despite busting a spoke mid-sprint, won that gamblers prime with ease. On the last lap, I just marked Iddings until a good moment on the back side of the course.
{Iddings looks tired -- I feel awful, but now's the time -- I need a big gap since I know he's going to take that final corner faster than me -- it's now or never...} I attacked him, and held on for dear life -- taking 8th or 9th in the field sprint (won by Kenny Willams), but beating Iddings and Adrian. {holy shit it worked!} Hagens took first and second, and won a hand full of primes -- all in all another very solid team effort.


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