I had never ridden with anyone from Battley-Harley. I'd ridden with a few CAT 1s and 2s. I'd never been blown away. I'd hung on wheels and contested sprints. Please. I can hang on Jesus' wheel, granted he's only engaging his human and not his divine attributes (that raises some interesting questions, perhaps for later posts: what was Jesus' VO2 max, LT, etc?).
At last year's ING Crit, my first 35+ Masters event, I'd placed 13th after taking a few pulls on the front and trying a few breaks. If I'd played my cards right and managed to get on future teammate, Chris Schmidt's wheel, I might have placed as high as 5th. As it was, Chris powered off the front, and I only tried to chase him down when he had 50 yards on us. And no way I could catch him at that point--he was a friggen blond, badass locomotive, and he powered his way to fifth place, solo, I believe. Very badass.
In Saturday's CAT 4 I took some hard pulls in the CAT 4 race. I knew I was in no shape to contend for a podium, so I tried to do something to help Rugg, Brown and Martin get in contention. It was a typical race, except I went down (for the first time ever in a race) in what was probably the gentlest, kindest, my pretty poniest crash in MABRA history. A guy crossed wheels in front of me and went down, I steered into the soft grass, nearly ran over his head, floated down on angels' wings and pixie dust and babies' giggles and kissed the pillowy grass with all the dantiness of a Frenchman pouring Chablis. Martin went down behind me, likewise eased to the turf by seraphim 'n so on.
We re-entered the race, and no harm done, except my calf felt like it'd been struck by a hammer.
So when my brother suggested we do the 35+ together, I thought, "why not?" I did not know that Chuck Hutchenson and Dave Fuentes of Battley-Harley would show up. But if I had known, I would've thought, well, just catch some wheels and hang. I'd only been dropped once, and that was because my chain came off on the side of a mountain.
My brother was dropped within 1 minute of the race starting. I made in 29 minutes. At that point, Chuck and Dave had not yet lapped the field, so I was spared that ignominy.
Following the advice of Martin, my fellow turf-eater, I'm hereby expressing some excuses: (1) my calf was knotted up; (2) the CAT 4 race tuckered me out; and (3) my 2-hour a week training regimin failed me.
That's the great advantage of not training like you're supposed to train--you don't have to admit that, in the end, God and Mom and Dad just gave you a shitty genetic bundle.
From the side of the road, my brother and another sap, Alvin, watched Chuck and Dave smoothly trading pulls at 30 mph. Our asses were undeniably in our hands, and we talked about how much more training we needed to undertake, how our important and complicated affairs prevented us from filling the rocket fuel mysteriously absent from our legs. Because that's the only way a man should respond to having his ass handed to him, having his genetic limits exposed--complete and utter denial.