"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


I Should've Eaten My Wheaties

I definitely upped the volume with my first full weekend of races: Spring Prairie on Saturday, then two heats at the Inaugural Wheaton Criterium in, oddly enough, Wheaton, IL.

I had originally only planned on doing the Masters 4/5 race, as I was going to take the Metra out to event. But, at the same time I was reading on the Metra website that bikes were banned that weekend due to Bluesfest, I received a forum email from Arun Ramachandran saying he had an extra space in his car. I figured somebody must really want me to race the fives on Sunday.

The directions on the flyer were completely bogus, but we found our way to downtown Wheaton with more than enough time to register, and get some warm up laps in with Josh, Nick, David, and Jason. Stupidly, when the announcer told us we had time for at least another warm up lap, Josh and I left the line, only to return and find ourselves now at the back of the pack. Lesson learned.

It was one of the faster criteriums, and scarier, I've done this year. The turns were all over the place, and on the 3rd lap Josh was unlucky enough to be behind a rider who got a little to close to the curb. He said later if he'd not unclipped he would've stayed up right, but Josh ran hit him and 3 of them went down. Josh's tire blew out like a gunshot, and with it, his race.

I was all over the field, up and back, but with 5 laps to go, Jason was pulling for a couple lengths and pulled ahead to give him a break. However, half a lap later, the eventual winner Bryan McVey - who also took 2nd in Spring Prairie - pulled through and I drafted on him until the 4th, and then stupidly pulled the entire 4th lap. On the home stretch I was trying unsuccessfully to get out of the draft all the way to the line, when McVey jumped hard, and I was swallowed by the pack and lost more ground on the first two turns.

As I sit here writing this, it's occurred to me I should've jumped just after the cobbles - and just made it or broke it, or found a wheel at the front earlier on and clung to it like Velco, and waited for that inevitable jump, by McVey, or somebody else.

I clawed my way back up on the final two laps, making up most of the ground on the back stretch and on the third turn. Coming into the final stretch I got a good full sprint and it was there in the last 50 meters I cracked the top 10.

I had an hour or so to watch an unbelievable finish in the 4s. Seeing the field rounding the last turn and Jeff Wat take the race on an amazing jump, I let out a huge yell. Jeff Holland also cracked the podium for the first of two times that day.

I got in my third race of the weekend with the Masters 4/5. Not much to write about here that I didn't already say in my Spring Prairie write-up. I found myself at the front late in the race, and while I was able to do some good, giving Brian Stockmaster a breather, I really had no idea of what do. I tried to get on a train of three other xXx-ers a couple laps before Brian, Kirby, and Joe's successfull leadout, but was blocked out. The fatigue I was feeling, plus the faster pace, kept me from ripping anything stupid off. At this point I am trying to learn from the those who've been there before me, and I didn't want to upset any game plan that was brewing.

In over my head in the Master's 30+ 4/5 race:

And brewing it was. Kirby and Brian had found themselves together near the front, and then there was Joe. The got the leadout train going on the final lap and catapulted Joe to his second place finish. The pace really got really quick and the pack was strung out a long way by time I got to the homestretch and I faded fast, unable to sprint. It was the first time I was passed at the line ever, and I took 30th place. It didn't feel good at all.

I was able to get a wealth of knowledge, however, and I am very glad I did both races. Talking with Kirby and Brian about how the winning move came together had me thinking about all three of my finishes for the remainder of the day. It's really about instinct, intuition, having the balls to make the first move, and stick with it even when you belatedly realize it's the wrong move.

If I may make a comparison, music is much the same dynamic. A bassist and drummer must have a very close (musical) relationship, entirely non-verbal, and based on trust. You need to feel the beat, know where it's going and be confident that when that fill comes out of your brain and out of your fingers onto the fret board, that it's finally realized out of the amplifier it is going to line-up perfectly with what the drummer has going on in her brain. It's almost impossible to do at first, but the very suble nuances between the two of you begin to form the basis of a commonality through rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal, and finally, at the risk of sounding hokey, you have a shared conciousness through sound and time.

What happened Sunday in the winning leadouts was much the same, a shared consciousness, this time realized through space and time. When you ride with the same people enough, you begin to know what you're all thinking.

"When you finally disconnect...the [race] will be different. There will be no obstacles. You'll see it like a canvas or piece of paper on which to express yourself." --- Bob Roll

"Guitarist Larry Coryell once told me that the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves. So it is with bike racing; the time between attacks is vital to appreciate the game." --- John Derven

"The real race is not on the hot, paved roads...the off road course...the velodrome. It is in the electrochemical pathways of your mind." --- Alexi Grewal

No comments: