Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'll be off the back also

This past Saturday it was round #2 of the Appalachian Criterium Series in the South OF Connellsville Criterium. The weather on that morning was something out of the storm from Wizard of OZ. When we got to the race the guys doing the early Cat 5 race had their work cut out for them as the wind had to be at least 25 - 30 mph with driving rain. I was feeling for those guys and was not to excited myself about racing. However I was surprised as the day went on the wind completely disappeared but the rain kept coming. That was a huge improve however from what they saw in the morning and the hunger to race started creep into my brain.

When we lined up at the start I didn't see an "pack filler" like myself. The weather plus fast looking for series points made it a small but super fast guy field. Not good news for me. After commenting on what I saw to the entire group, one other rider said "I'll be off the back also". He was skinny and young, so I doubted his statement. It seemed like the field was at high speed before Nick Rossi finished blowing his whistle to start the race. The first lap was HARD and fast. The small hill plus a second section with a false flat made my heart sky rocked. Lap 2 I was starting to figure out that the pace was to much for me and I knew it was not going to be long before I would get dropped. Then lap 3 it happened, I popped off the back of the field. In fact I was first one to fall off. That was ok however because that has happened before but I always end up picking off a hand full or so as the race went off.

Then the very next lap I saw a solo rider up ahead and was gaining on him. As i got closer it was the guy who said, "I'll be off the back also". Well he was telling the truth after all. So we can stop calling him "that guy", his name is Brenda Murray, as I found out later after the race. Brendan and I took turn pacing lining not going very hard but I think it would be safe to say we would go hard on the hill part to see if we could drop one another. However neither of use could drop the other. I was not to surprised because of who all was in the race but we never came upon any other dropped riders.

Lap after lap Brendan and kept going and with two laps to go he asked,"ya want to sprint for the finish". I was up for it cause neither of us wanted to be last and it just would be fun. Brendan also said he didn't want to be last as well. For us this sprint just as much as a sprint for a win. As we crossed the start/finish area to start the finial lap I went to take a pull on purpose. The thought was I pull now then he would take a pull then I would have his back wheel for the sprint. Around 3/4 of a lap to go I slow and wanted him to come around. I thought he would feel comfortable coming to the front because there was a lot of the lap let and then I would have him. To my surprise he didn't come around. Hmmm I thought. I pedaled on a bit and around 1/2 a lap to go I tried again. My speed was even slower this time as I tried to bate him into coming around. Crap I thought to myself. He is not going to fall for it. Brendan was not going to get off my back wheel and I know it now.

I tried to come up with a new plan. I am so big that I make it easy for anyone to beat me in a sprint as they have to do little work behind me with in my draft. I figured my only hope was to go full throttle out of the final turn to the line. Just maybe if I get a good job I can get a gap and that would be all I needed. As we went through the final 90 degrees turn I hit the gas. I pushed down on the pedals as hard as I could and just hope for the best, but maybe 30 feet from the line I could see a wheel coming up on my left side and I knew it. He got me. It would be my first ever last place finish in a cycling race ever. I have been racing for a long time and never finished last before. After the race I was questioning the cycling license upgrade and what I could do. After a few more minutes I thought that yes I may have gotten last but I am racing with a much faster group of folks now and that in itself is a win for me. I will keep trying and hope for better results but it still was fun, last or not.