The most intense and hotly contested part of Clarendon Cup is the race to the race. Everyone recognizes the importance of staging. Older team members exhort younger team members to stage early, well, as if camping out overnight for Black Sabbath tickets.
I swear about 150 riders were putzing around the start, but by the time we'd lined up, teeth kicked in, hair pulled, blown hammies, we looked like we'd been through hell. And that was just for staging. I followed DJ, who, maybe because he's an officer of the law, always seems to find the sneakiest way around the law. We were supposed to stage from one side; DJ and a select cadre of us staged from the pit area. We paid no heed to the blue-shirted marshall looking at us disapprovingly. FU. Staging is the race.
The Masters race finished, we kicked it in our 53x11s and the 20 yard sprint to the line began. I can't say I placed well, but I did defeat some pretty fast finishers. I was in the third row behind Ryan McKinney.
After the hired help had dragged the carcasses of the less fortunate from the start area, it looked as though they'd let us go early. It was 8:45, and those of who'd survived were anxious to start the race before there were any more casualties.
Instead, we were forced to wait ten minutes. Meanwhile, the unwanted frontal penetrators arrived.
By this, I mean the folks who ride up nonchalantly to the starting line from the front. They pretend to be just trying to find their way through all the chaos. They inch through the front, feign helpless, then turn around, squarely ahead of the rest of us, through sheer assholery avoiding the suffering of the Battle of Staging.
Unwanted frontal penetrators, there is no honor in staging thus. Shame on you. Unwanted frontal penetration is the doping of staging.
I'll say no more on that.
Meanwhile onstage Nima went on about how much weight he's lost, and how mighty his team is, and we sat and waited.
Last year I'd taken a riskier approach to staging. I'd avoided it by letting a gap open even before the starting gun. I staged about 20 yards behind the peleton. I watched the clock, clipped in about 5 seconds before the gun sounded, and by the time I reached the rear end of the group was at about 35 mph and bellowing like a bull gored by John Goodman. I passed about 100 people in five seconds, but I was lucky, and totally a douche.
This year I staged the conventional way, and when the gun sounded and I hit the first corner, I was in in good position in the top twenty. In the picture below, which is of the first turn (post-staging) I'm the traffic cone in the center with smug look on my face.
Basically, this is the order of the finish. Josh Frick, seen here in second position won, but everyone else is basically in the order of their finish.
It was a tough race to get to the start line, but I'm proud of what my team accomplished, and next year I hope to stage even better.