Rain fell in sheets Saturday morning, and the radar showed clouds stretching from New York through Kentucky. See here for Chuck Hutchinson's stoic description of what it was like racing in the rain. So the sunshine and clouds that appeared around noon made me feel lucky and eager to race. Staging was on a hilltop overlooking a beautiful valley, with a nice breeze which put some spectators to sleep (you know who you are).
As I pulled my bike off the car, a rider from Evo told me "one, your fanny pack is unzipped, and, two, you'll need to remove that if you wanna race." For some reason, it pissed me off that he numbered his directives. I mean, sure, say "hey, buddy, your pack's still on." But don't break it down into a number list.
I removed my fanny pack. And, for the record, it was zipped up, so Evo guy--you were, one, impolite and, two, wrong. See my verbal tirade on disgusting human behavior here.
Now, where is my backbone and where was I in my narrative here...
As Sigberto remarks in his recap, the neutral rollout was absurdly slow. There were many such slow points in the race; I have us averaging less than 22 mph for 36 miles. Things picked up slightly when guys went off the front, but of the strongmen only Pete Warner of WWVC really launched. I tried a small break with Brown on lap three, but we were chased down fairly quickly.
Grayson, Dennis, Matt Ringer, Brown and I patrolled the front for the first part of the race. The idea was to chase down serious break attempts, keep the pace steady (but not too hard), and to launch attacks that would make other teams chase.
This is a typical strategy for us, although it's usually the Viking doing all of this himself. I was thrilled to see other teams working together--notably WWVC, Coppi, and especially NCVC. The team tactics were exciting, especially NCVC's. I've been critical of them in past posts for not supporting their top riders; at ToWC they were often at the front, always pulling hard. Chris C., the guy in USC shorts, and a number of other NCVC guys came to the front for Sigberto. Clearly, they were organized.
Another rider I watched was Thomas Blonkowski of Coppi. I first met him at Hains this spring. He's a great young guy, earned 6th on GC this weekend, and he's going to see some wins in the coming months, I think.
Things were going pretty slow, nonetheless. At the end of lap four, just after "the wall," on the long downhill I tucked and coasted. When I looked around after the corner I had about 5 seconds on the field. We were heading right into a wind on a long flat, so I thought, "what the hell, they may not chase." I kept it at about 310w, which was about 23 mph and just cruised on the flat section.
By the start of the long climb, I had 20 seconds. No one was chasing. Halfway up the hill, the moto-ref pulled behind me. That was awesome. I was officially on "a break." I couldn't see the group chasing, but I knew they were close. I tried to keep the power up, but I also was thinking I should keep a little left in the tank.
After all, I had told everyone I was racing for Martin, that I was being completely selfless and cared not at all about my own results. On the other hand, going solo for two laps and winning the RR did cross my mind, along with podium girls and Joe Jefferson giving me pointers on clothing and dance moves.
Then I realized there were no podium girls, and no Joe Jefferson on the mic.
I eased up and rejoined the group on "the wall." Not because I was tired or in any way fatigued or felt destroyed or wasted. Pure, heroic selflessness.
Apparently some WWVC boys went to the front and did some work, along with a few NCVC guys. I was away on my break for exactly one lap, during which my power output was nothing exceptional: 310w. At least I made a few guys sweat.
On the last lap it seemed like things slowed down to a crawl. A two man-break with an ABRT and an American guy went, I went to the front with our Dutchman, Dennis, and brought them back, then I fell off the back. I was able to watch Thor throw down his hammer on the final climb to Valhalla. Brown and Dennis, who helped the Viking overlord, placed 2nd and 7th respectively.
I've rarely been in such a well-behaved bunch of riders. I bumped bars with Pete Warner a couple of times, but we just smiled and joked a little, and that seemed to be the prevailing mood. I think we were happy not to be racing in rain and lightning.
For a fine recap of the Cat 3 RR, see Greg Faberand Tim Rugg's account here.
Though the race was hard, average power was 256w, quite low for a two-hour race with a solo breakaway effort. Peak power, from 5 second to 60 minutes, also was low. I'm somewhat disappointed, although I think maybe the heat and the hills had something to do with it.
Boonsboro Time Trial
Umm, yeah...I'd rather not talk about it. Sperm helmets off to those who enjoy suffering and skinsuits and socks outside shoes and riding by yourself.
Next up: Williamsport Criterium