Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brrrrrrr!!!!! in Bartlett

I guess this is the weather we always talk about racing in right? How it would be so cool and epic to be able to race in the wind and the rain and the mud. While we didn't exactly have rain, and the mud really wasn't that difficult, we sure has heck had the wind today. The wind coupled with the rapidly dropping temperatures made for an interesting pre- and post-race. .

Remember Montrose last year? Compared to how it felt today, Montrose was downright balmy. Maybe it was just the fact that it seemed like it was supposed to be warmer, but I can't remember shivering that much before a race. And the goosebumps were so big they almost hurt! Once we were finally off and racing the temperature was no longer a factor, but the wind never seemed to let up. The key to a successful race today was to be able to stay on someones wheel when it mattered. Getting blasted by a 50mph wind is no fun, especially when you are at 195 bpms and frothing at the mouth. At one point, after exiting the short wooded section I was nearly knocked over by a gust of wind. I also experienced a new phenomenon of the course tape trying to reach out and grab your handlebars at every opportunity. It kinda reminded me of being in a haunted house at the carnival where ghouls and goblins try and snatch at you in the dark. Enough complaining though, lets talk racing

After the call ups were complete, I quickly scooted to the front row on the outside hoping for a good start. Tony and the rest filed in behind me. At the whistle, the guy to my right has absolutely no ability to ride in a straight line or be able to clip in at the same time. I actually had to push him off of me for the first 50-75 feet, all the while I can hear Tony making his own opinions known. We quickly lose twenty places to this goofball and are left to try and make our way back up. Tony manages to pass in the 2nd or 3rd corner and Dave from Flatlandia goes with him. I quickly jump onto their little train heading for the first barrier. Up and over without any problems but slower traffic ahead of Dave and I on the first uphill caused us both to dismount. Of course I had to give him a hard time, and he apologized for it. Did he really think I was serious? Anyway, I spent the first lap chasing Tony and the leaders while not getting passed myself.

Onto the second lap and I'm still dangling behind Tony, but closing quickly. Into the wooded section and heading for the mud pit and I made my pass through the mud. I was sure Tony was going to come with me, but heading for the next corner I could hear him shouting encouragement at me, so I drilled again hoping to bridge to Brian from Mission Bay. I did close as we passed the Cuttin Cruiser and Al asking us if we liked gettin' dirty! I was sure Tony would catch us as we entered the asphalt, but I was honestly too afraid to look back. Typically when I race with Tony it is just a matter of time before he catches and drops me.

With two to go and no sign of Tony, my goal was to try and catch and pass the riders ahead. Out of every corner and obstacle I would be up out of the saddle sprinting and attacking the course. I was able to hold Tony off for the rest of the race and even managed to pull back a few riders. It seems my new mindset of attacking the course as often as possible is working. As soon as the race was over, Tony, Elvis and Patrick quickly got into some warm dry clothes so that we could cheer on the Jorge, Bob, Joe and Sergio in the B race

Much to our surprise Jorge received a call up for the top ten overall. Apparently some one had catted up since he was 11th in the results just a few days ago. At the start line then both Jorge and Bob had a great front row position with Joe and Sergio a few rows back. Off the start Jorge settled into a top ten position with Bob just trailing him. They both made it up and over the hill with no problems and rode strong for the rest of the first lap.

Coming out of the woods Jorge seemed to be in too small a gear and we were sure he was having difficulty shifting by his demeanor. But after a little encouragement he found the gear and the tempo to stay with the leaders. Bob too came out strong, and was having little problem holding his position. They were both listening to our instructions to them and were very attentive to the race around them.

During the second lap, Jorge was having a hard time matching the pace of the group he was in. Meanwhile Bob was having a perfect race, he was catching and passing riders and soon caught Jorge's wheel. They were together going into the woods, but Bob emerged first without Jorge. At this point Jorge was starting to slip off the pace but was still putting up a fight. The team did their best to shout and will them towards the finish and they did their best to not let us down.

As the last lap unfolded Bob was sitting probably top 15 or so with Jorge trailing just a few riders back. Bob dug deep and opened a gap as he entered onto the asphalt for the last time. However the attack didn't stick and he was caught again on the downhill stretch. Going into the last set of barriers Bob was with a group of three and working hard. He passed one rider on the climb out and tried to get a lead out from the other guy going into the wind. The tactic was a good choice, but his legs just couldn't respond after the hard effort of the day. Jorge clawed his way back and finished just one behind Bob for 19th and 20th.

All the while there was another race going on that might not have been apparent to any one else but those involved. Joe and Sergio have a mostly friendly rivalry going as to who can win the most races between the two of them. I think Joe might have had the advantage going into today, and therefore I was a bit surpirsed that Sergio was just sitting in. Joe was left to do almost all the work even on the windy sections of the course. Going into the last section of barriers Joe made and acceleration and tried to shake Sergio for good, but Sergio hung on, letting Joe take the "victory". Not sure, but I think Joe has taken a substantial lead in the "overall" with that one.

After the races we quickly dispersed to try and get warm as quickly as possible. Hopefully no one gets sick after this weather caught us off guard today.

As always, photos courtesy of Eric Nelson and they are available here.