Cat 3 domestiques
The biggest surprise of this race? It was not the hardest race I've ever done.
It was certainly hard, but it didn't leave me with legs that cramped on and off for 12 hours, or with temporary blindness, or any number of the usual post-deathrace indignities.
Surprisingly, it came down to a field sprint, as much as that is possible on a 20% grade.
The same could not be said for the Cat 4 men's race, which shattered on the first climb. Matt, although in second place, was already foaming as he passed the feed zone. Only 1/2 a lap in, and only about 1/4 of the original field remained. Everyone else, including Marcus and my brother, had already fallen off the back.
Page Valley is the kind of race where the favorites line up according to waist size. The NCVC juniors, Tom Blonkowski, our own Dennis B. At 175 and still returning to race shape, I knew I didn't have much of a chance on the steep gradient finish.
My goal was to give the Dutchman, who'd given me a ride to the race, a chance at the win. When an early break went, Tony went to the front and gave chase and brought back a very strong attempt by a mountain biker with a huge engine and seemingly little sense of how to win road races. Impressive, but also a bit sad.
On the second-to-last lap I did some work with some other teams to bring back Pete Warner's break. Initially, I tried to jump up to him--Pete being a friend and a great time trialler. I was too late trying to bridge, and realized that I'd better just try to work to bring him back, which we did.
On the last lap Reid from Cyclelife jumped immediately off the downhill. The field sat up, and I was at the back, so I could do nothing. I went to the front as fast as I could, for the whole flat section pulled with the mountain biker, who seemed content to help out, which was surprising. No other team--NCVC, gamjams, Coppi, or WWVC--was willing to help, even though I begged and cajoled.
I regretted not being at the front when Reid made his move, because I think together we could have stayed away. To be clear, I think Reid would have stayed away on his own if I hadn't worked to bring him back. It was a strong move on his part, and I'm a little sorry to have allowed the field to be so lazy, with moutain biker and I pulling and catching Reid halfway up the penultimate climb. I tried staying on the front around the sharp left leading to the last climb, if only to stay out of trouble around the last sharp lefthand turn.
Earlier I'd slid out on this corner when an NCVC rider dove the corner and forced me to touch my brakes. I'd slid across the road and into the ditch without going down. I'd been able to get back on the bike, but Blonkowski attacked, and it took me quite a while to catch back on.
I held the corner this last time, and tried to move to the front. Dennis was on my left and Tony said, "I'm right behind you." I managed to break through to the front by the feed zone, but unfortunately, my leadout failed.
I watched the rest of the pack pass me, Dennis nabbing fourth, Tony and Grayson--recently back from a punctured lung and severe injury--in the top twenty.
Working for a teammate is often frustrating. You don't communicate, and you both end up burning energy. But sometimes you can work together, and you do one or two little things that help.
The Dutchman, 4th in Cat 3
Clearly, Matt did this for Corey, who placed second in the Cat 4 race, and now lays claim to the MABRA jersey.
Ringer, after finishing 10th in Cat 4
I don't understand how this worked out, but apparently it's his. Matt, who crossed the line in 10th, making noises like a man fresh from a three-hour waterboarding session, covered every break, allowing Corey to sit in and save energy for his charge to the line.
I'm proud of how our team raced this weekend. No sublime talent, no dominant performance to be talked about on goon rides all Winter. Just rides from guys who work hard and justify a free beer or two.
Hulk smash climb
photos by marcus floro and team traveller