Sunday, March 05, 2006

Banana Belt Series, Race #1, 3/5

This will be the last I speak or write about this race.

It was a mere 4 laps of a rolling 11-mile course on a rainy day. Next week it’ll be 5; 6 the next. They’re all short, but this was “the short one”. For me, it punctuated a crappy week. I’ve been fighting a sore throat and chronic gastrointestinal distress. I rode a whopping 9.4 hours this week. I thought, going into it, that the punctuation mark would be an ellipsis, but in the final kilos it looked to be an exclamation point. Maybe two or three. Anyways… (<- ellipsis)

I was never in ‘a bit of bother’; for the second time in the two road races so far. The hills were sharp but not long enough to be selective. I rode smart near the front and didn’t let anyone use me. I'm riding for me and me alone. (Yes, Jess popped again (what??? how???)) (Yes, nested parentheses)

The points sprint after two laps didn’t play out for me. I got to the front and cycled about in the paceline, hoping for an opportunity, but definitely not forcing anything--always thinking more about the finish. Too far up too early, I found that it was my turn to pull through with 700 m to go. Perfectly bad position. I took the pull like a good sport and watched the sprint from 10th wheel. FYI: if you’re not going to -for sure- take first or second in a “hot spot sprint”, don’t bother. I didn’t. (That is, unless there’s a prize messenger bag for the sprint, you're gonna win the GC anyways, and you really need a messenger bag)

So, fast-forward to the finish. I felt great. 2.5 k to go, we surmounted the last short climb. I was 8th wheel. 2 to go. I muscle my way, on the downhill at 35 mph, onto the wheel that I want: #519… the big guy on the red Cannondale that took the sprint ahead of me at Cherry Pie. I’m 10th wheel, behind the guy that my stomach knows will take 1st unless I outsprint him. A guy from the left tries to push me off--I shoulder him against the centerline. 1.5 to go. A guy tries to push me off from the right. I pull a couple strokes to get my right wrist ahead of his hoods and move right. My wheel. 1 to go. A bastard ass rock lands in my right eye. No problem… blink it out. No go. Rub it out. No go. Can’t see. Try to blink it out again. No go. We’re hitting the sharp right onto the narrow bridge with wet metal plates in it that is idiotically placed 700 m from the downhill finish. I can’t see. On 70% instinct and 30% blurry doublevision, I hold my line and don’t cause any fatalities. I can’t see. I’ve lost my wheel, I can see that much. The sprint goes. I decide that at this point, I’ll be lucky to get away with merely not becoming ‘the guy that caused the pile up’. I sprint just enough to hold position. I very, very narrowly get around this Guinness asshole that’s gone early and cracked and is coming through the center of the bunch kick 10 mph slower than the rest of us. I coast across the finish line and straight to the side of road where I plead with the back of the passing pack to give me some plain-old water. A really nice guy obliges me and is surprised to see me shoot his water bottle right into my eye. The pain sucks. Bad. It takes me 10 minutes to get the rock out. I still, right now, have blurry vision out of my right eye. Sigh. I really hope it goes away.

I know I should wear glasses. I do on dry days. But on rainy days, I can (almost) always blink the water and road grit out; but when that shit hits your glasses, you just can’t see… period. So, no glasses. I guess wearing them is a skill that one has to practice. I’ll work on it.

In my own defense: the guy that won wasn’t wearing them either. #519. Yeah, the guy I was fighting to follow into his sprint. Yep. I felt good, too. As I type this, I don’t feel like I’ve raced today. My toy computer tells me my pulse peaked at 183 in my “sprint”. No cool down necessary. Once again, the silver lining is that my fitness was there. I’m stronger than a lot of those guys. I guess that knowledge is nice, but in a way it also puts a lot of pressure on me. I can’t wait until there’s more than one race a week. If I were in collegiate, I’d be saying, “Well, shit, I’ll win the crit tomorrow.” No go. Sigh. Sorry Dubois, I'm no closer to being your Cat 2 domestique. So, until next week, yours truly.


Blogger Brian said...

Bummer on the rock! You'll be right up there again next week.

More nested parenthesis...

9:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I'm back from the border. Let's rock it!!!

Yeah, buddy, get some los gaffas del sol!!

Rocca no es bueno.

3:53 PM  

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