Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reality Check

So far, So good. The early racing season has been WAY better than I had expected. I got the off to a good start this year when I won a Masters race in the third race of the season and this past Tuesday, scored win number 2 when I narrowly out sprinted 2 other riders at the ACA Tuesday Night Crit. There was that little snafu where myself and two teammates missed the start of a race and tried chasing down the peloton but only managed to bring back about half of the field. Thanks to Pathfinder of West Virginia I picked up a new ride that has all but eliminated the need to make a last minute run to the porta john. Its tough to climb on it, but damn, can this thing handle even my most explosive attacks out there.

But seriously, I have really had some good results so far this year. Even the 2 boogers on the early calendar-Morgantown Road Race and the Tour of Tucker- went better than expected. Both of those races are known for their climbs and are much better suited to the skinny little climbers as opposed to someone 6'6" and 220 pounds. But I somehow finished in the top third of those stacked fields, which was as good as a victory in my book.

I was hoping for a continuation of my good fortunes today, at the third installment of the Saturday Morning Oval Series. We were racing the infamous "P Course" and I was really looking forward to racing it for the first time. But 3 laps into the masters race, I burped and ended up with a mouthful of breakfast. It was the first time that I have ever regretted my decision to race crits without a water bottle. And from that point on, I struggled to hold on to the 9 other riders in the field. Since the P course seems to be suited to a rider like me, I was hoping to make a statement about my intention to claim the championship (I was in second place, just 5 points behind the leader) but that wasn't going to happen. I tried to stay focused and eventually found myself off the back with 3 other riders.  Somehow, I managed to beat them all to the line, 3 places ahead of the series leader but 2 places behind the 3rd place rider). It will certainly make the next race all that more interesting.  I don't think any of the top 3 places changed but I think things are definitely tighter at the top.

My second of 3 scheduled races was the 4/5 race. Going in, I sat in 3rd place overall, but with the previous race, I was only racing to avoid the DNF from showing up on my Road Results page. I didn't miraculously improve in the 20 minutes between races, and soon found myself off the back again. 3 or 4 laps in, I saw Steve Antonishen take a hard fall so I stopped and started to look after him. When I rolled up on him, his eyes were open but he wasn't there. It was scary to look into his eyes and just not see anything. I tried engaging him in conversation but it seemed like an eternity before he ever started to offer up answers to my questioning. He asked if he caught a pedal and like any good cyclist, asked how his bike was.  He made a slow evaluation of his bodily functions after several minutes determined  that his left elbow was sore but wasn't hurting all that bad. He eventually asked for help up and he walked into the infield and sat down in the shade to get his wits about about.  Thats when I got the terrible news that they were letting me get back into the race on the lead lap. I tried talking them out of it (in my mind, I had the perfect excuse to take a DNF) but the USAC officials all agreed that Greg Flood, who also stopped to render aid, and I were back in the race at the back of the field. It didn't take long until I was back in that familiar position of being off the back, but I kept going as hard as I could manage. I eventually caught couple other riders who got dropped but ended the day in 11th place.

Sitting in the infield watching the Women's race with Steve and Mike Janeiro, I contemplated the prospect of having to do a third race for the day. I wanted to race, but I had already been lapped by a masters field and most of the 4/5 field, so the 3/4 field was sure to put the screws to me. Steve asked for some advil, so I went to get some from the truck and swung by the start house on my way back. I asked if I was going to get a DNF if I scratched from the last race and when they said no, the decision was made.  IF they had said yes, sure as shit, I would have been on the line at the start of the race. Thats how bad I hate seeing a DNF next to my name. Instead, I got to watch Eric Lundgren put the hammer down on the rest of the field and cheered on my two teammates, JR and Brian Decann, as they tried to stay with the field. As it was, I think I enjoyed the race from my position alot more than they did. The only thing that would have been better is if I'd had enough energy to drag the mat down instead of just laying on the pavement. But still, it was way better than racing.

It doesn't get any better than this. Actually, it didn't even come close.

Next up, the Aliquipa Crit. Hopefully I feel a little, no scratch that, hopefully I feel a LOT better tomorrow. one things for sure, I can't feel worse than I did today. well, unless I end up like Steve. Hope he feels better in the morning, and hopefully he gets some of his short term memory back. I was getting tired of him asking the same questions about his bike, the accident, and what happened. Of course, he probably was getting tired of me asking how he was feeling and if he knew his name and address and phone number. but, he won't remember how annoying I probably was to him, so its all good I guess.