Monday, May 4, 2009

My first Road Race

My first Cat 5 Race.

I was a little nervous not knowing how well I would do. I’ve ridden my bike a lot but not in a competitive environment where other guys are trying to crush my spirit. Looking at some of the bikes and quads on some of these guys, not to mention I’m no spring chicken, I was a little unnerved.

The team had a good plan. I like plans. I’m good at following plans. Plans don’t always seem to work out like… you planned. But in this case… the plan worked!

Our goal was to start spreading out the pack after the first hill. Have a few guys up front pushing the pace on hills two and three to separate the wheat from the chaff. This seemed to be working except I really didn’t notice the hills. I’m sure they were there but I was so busy trying not to do something stupid I didn’t notice. I was focused on moving around the pack, taking a short pull, then slipping back, but not too far back and working my way through the pack again. This required all my concentration as there were indeed a few sketchy riders who jiggled and wobbled like a fat chick at a hoola hoop party.

The wind was from the NW and everyone was echeloning (if that’s a word) across the road. Whoever was at the front was pulling the entire pack until…. All of sudden, the pack thinned out into a long thin string along the yellow center line and I was left out thrashing in the wind. “What the hell was going on? I can’t draft in this! Who in their right mind would do this to me?”

Then, looking along this long line of riders, gaps were beginning to form. Slower guys were struggling against the wind as if they were by themselves, the wheel ahead of them was doing very little and they were suffering. I looked up the line to see who was the devious mastermind behind this plan. And there was Carl, smiling away as the pack started to break apart. It was brilliant! He had the help of other Team Theory players deploying this evil and brilliant plan. Before I knew it the pack had disintegrated into smaller groups and we were game on.

The big hill was looming and I did not want to be too far back. Simon, who was in the unfortunate crash, had caught up and was moving towards the lead group, I knew I needed to be close to him if I was going to hang on.

At the bottom of the hill there was a big surge. Simon and some other fast guy were in the lead. Several other guys including Thomas and Joel had sprinted by me but since I have virtually no ability to sprint, I simply settled in and turned the pedals in true ‘Randonneur’ fashion. The hill was long enough that if you went out too hard, too early you could blow up and I started reeling in rider after rider. I caught Thomas about two thirds of the way up and that’s where the Team came together. We got to the top of the hill and were greeted by a good size wind. There was the lead group of Simon, Joel and the other fast guy and a second group of two guys quite distant from the lead. Thomas and I worked the wind taking 20 seconds pulls. It seemed to take a long time but we slowly pulled them in. Another fellow work his ass off to catch us and we were now a group of 5 about a minute or two behind the leaders at the turn around. There was no way in hell we were going to catch them and I knew that Thomas needed points to move up so we agreed he would sit in and I would do his pulls. If anything went wrong for one of the riders in the lead group, Thomas would have a chance at 3rd.

I pulled, gave the signal, no takers, I pulled some more, gave the signal, no takers, Thomas and I slowed down to a snails pace, they all sat in. One fellow took a few pulls which I appreciated but the other guys sat in. If that’s the way it’s going to be, then so-be-it. I pulled for the remaining 20km’s or so with Thomas tucked in.

Joel had blown up and was off the lead pack. He later told me that he made some tactical errors and blew all his matches at the wrong times and was cooked when we reeled him in.

Thomas played it perfectly. We picked up at the pace even more at the 3km mark. We were surprised at how quick the finish line came up and I yelled for Thomas to go. In retrospect, a better ‘code word’ than “GO NOW”! should be deployed but he had the jump. I eased off for a second to make the remaining riders around me and voila! Thomas was over the line.

It was an awesome first race. The tactics deployed by the team were excellent. Carl I believe deserves the credit for destroying the big pack with his yellow line tactic. Simon and Joel were awesome in the lead and I felt great through ride. I came in 6th place but one of the guys in our pack was disqualified for some reason which gave me 5th place. No podium but it was better than I could have hoped for.

Thanks everyone for a great first race!
Tom

1 comment:

Carl Miiller said...

Tom,
Great recap of our race. Great show Cat 5. As a team, we executed our plan and the race went very well for us. It is evident that we have the numbers and talent in Cat 5 to make the paleton "crack". Great work everyone.

I can't take credit for the yellow line trick. Trev told us about that trick at his RR school a couple years ago. Thanks Trev - it worked awesome - you should have heard the grumbling in the pack.

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