Monday, January 30, 2006

Stage 3

Was odd. A lot of people weren't happy with the weather, but I was fine with it. The weather was warm (47F) and rainy and I was dressed perfectly in a tank top and armwarmers. By the time it was over I was soaked through and there were interesting mud lines on my shoulders and the small of my back -- all exposed skin was filthy.

This was a tour of the park/boulevard system and I was looking forward to another ride of riding in a big pack. This worked for about the first half, as we rode in a huge clump. I thought it was fun and the pace was easy to keep. I had my eye on a person who I beleived was a good gauge for my speed.

Then there came a short stint of successive curb hops. The main way was half-blocked by an angry motorist (collision?). A few of us detoured a few yards away to another entrance at this pinch-point.

Sadly, I lost the pack. It was super-frustrating. For many blocks I thought I could catch them but it was really hard to close the distance. None of the other people who were also separated from the main pack seemed to even want to catch it. I pedalled past Paul and Todd, expecting them to jump at the chance to draft off me, but neither of them took the bait.

I decided to try to catch it alone, but then the traffic closed behind the groups like the red sea and they put even more distance between us. Damnit! After several more bad intersections (I am the worst intersection crosser -- Ever!) they were hardly visible up ahead. Two other riders caught up to me and we continued to tail the group, but then we took a wrong turn and then detoured off course for several blocks. We couldn't figure out where to go, and in our hesitancy, Paul, Todd and a few other riders caught up and joined us.

Eventually we got back on course......to see the leaders and the large pack behind them already doubling back from a loop in one of the parks. Fuck. It was so tempting to just join them, but instead we stayed on the course and looped through the park. (actually, I suspect that one rider did skip the park).

After we were back on the road we saw the perma-slow riders of the races going in the opposite direction. I really didn't know where we were and what the rest of the course held, but I thought that we were behind even them. At some point, Paul mentioned that we were in the home stretch. I was really surprised, because it didn't seem like we had hardly ridden at all. I felt energized and great. I chirped back, "well what are we waiting for?" expecting that he would jump ahead with me, but that was the last time I saw him until the finish.

I think our group dropped several people in these last few miles. I didn't know where to turn so I had to stay with the group. At the final turn into the park, I wasn't sure what to do and slowed down. A guy in an orange sweater pulled completely ahead and took the turn fast and I could only follow. This was the best part of the race for me. Me and some guy on a Bianchi Pista had to figure out who was going to suck the least between the two of us.

I knew that I had a lot of energy and after the disappointment of losing the pack and getting lost, I damn well didn't want to get beat in the kick. He probably felt the same way. The loop through the park was probably a half mile (?). I rode off to the side of his rear wheel for most of this and hoped to pass him closer to the end. He spooked when I pulled alongside him. In response to my challenge he really bore down and was panting to keep his lead. Slowly, but steadily the Julep creeped ahead -- he started grunting/screaming (weightlifter style) on the exhale with the effort to try to regain his lead, but it was not to be. I think he was behind my rear wheel when we hit the finish. Good stuff.

Paul finished several minutes behind me. He said he hadn't been feeling well during the whole race and had even considered just bailing when he lost the main group at the pinch-point. I would like for there to be another race this series where both he and I feel 'on' and ride well.

So anyway....even though getting lost and dropped at a curb-jumping pinch-point, the race was really fun. I felt that I rode strong when I wasn't lost. I wish I would have stayed with the pack to see how I would have placed, but ...oh well....such is life. It was still damn fun and damn good exercise. Plus I like meeting new people -- getting the nods of recognition from messengers downtown is more fun than it should be.
All illusions of doing well in the whole series have been dashed by this race, and I'm fine with that. I think when the series ends, I'll have to find some people to go on fast rides like this, because they are so fun. Plus, I'm sure they are serving the original purpose I signed up for them -- training for the Frozen Snot.
Unfortunately, at least one of the next two races will likely be scavenger-styled. Certain to highlight my weaknesses: geography, intersection-savvy, organization and paying attention to my surroundings. Anything better than DFL would be a lofty goal.
Stage 4 is February 12.

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