Monday, August 3, 2009

Lanterne Rouge Rookie Race Report: "21" . . . BLACKJACK!

BLACKJACK? Sorry, that was a flash back . . .

I once lived in Vegas and never won a nickel. However, I often took friends and family on casino tours and they all did great. This is sort of how my racing effort is shaping up. My team mates are kicking serious butt and taking names. I read their race reports and shake each time the phone rings. I think it is the EVO Godfather, Vic THE BRICK, calling for my cycling kit. I'll have to give it up or face a few guys from New Jersey in a dark DC alley....

I've competed in 21 events to date and that top 10 finish still stands just out of my reach. However, I'm still at it and already looking forward to this coming Saturday. Oh yeah, despite a poor performance weekend, the UBER positive TURTLE is in full throttle as this week starts . . .

But let's take a step back . . .

The TURTLE Uber Positive (TUP) Index was off the charts Saturday AM. I had my Baby Brother Adam visiting from Chicago this past weekend and he was was excited about seeing me race. Took a jab from SLUG pointing out that Adam my "real" Brother and not a teammate (my normal greeting) and most certainly not just someone who's name I have forgotten (my default response). Add a full suite of Evolution Cycling Club jerseys to the mix and confidence went through the roof.

I beat my rather skinny chest as I picked up my number and boldly announced EVO was bringing da heat today!!! The 540Cycling Development series would have an EVO jersey on the podium today. I just knew it. Larry Byvik of 540Cycling was stoked to see the numbers from the EVO crew. That just added to my mental, over confident, espresso, pre-RedBull high . . .

So, the Brothers huddled and words were exchanged. We had a few Brothers in their first CRIT but that did not stop my mouth. As we rolled around the course guys I met on race #1 of the series yelled out . . . "TURTLE, what the _____? You brought a train with you!" More skinny chest beats. Almost caved it in at one point so I had to back off a bit. I need my lungs to race.

We decided not to attack and counter attack and see how the field developed. There was a plan to hit it w/ 5 to go w/ Chris and Chad going for it. The rest of us would cover the front and if the boys were caught, Andrew would conserve and hit it hard.

From the start no one wanted any part of being at the front in this race. Chris set the tempo for most of the race and even took a prime. Somehow I missed that there were primes and so did he. It was a surprise to us all but no one challenged him at the front. David was also leading a great deal of the race. Most of the team stayed within the top third of the field. However, we were fairly spread out and that hurt us to a degree.

Looking back in that all so clear 20/20 vision, we should have sent three guys on the front and just beat the field down. We had the strength in the field to do it but just did not organize it well. We've done that in the past but did not execute it well this time around.

With 5 to go I moved up to about 4 deep with Chris on the front. We did not lay down the attack but with 3 to go a guy from Coppi pushed hard. Chris covered it and drug the rest of us up. TURTLE fear began here! This is where I am usually shot out the back for the final 2 laps and come limping home with my head hung low. But somehow I hung in as guys in the pack on my team and cats I have raced with this season yelled at me to stay in it. And that I did but I had drifted back in the lead group from my position near the front. It was a bad, very bad position.

With one to go, David (in his first CRIT) pushed off the front. It was an awesome move showing the strength of his serious distance work. This was the move I needed but about 7 deep and boxed to the opposite side of the road I was way out of position to go with him. It then became very unorganized as the last lap pace increased. After my excitement of being in the lead group for the final lap, I counted helmets in a desperate math in public move.

Reality hit like a bag of nickels across the face. Higher math said I was too far back and had to move up if I wanted a top 10 finish. I started my effort but everyone else was doing the same. The CAT 5 BLOB was coming! RUN!!!

We were all over the place. Bad lines just about took Chris and Andrew out in the second to last turn and as we hit the final turn the front spread out across the road and the sprint to the line started.

Unfortunately, our best sprinter, Chad did not know it was the last lap. Kevin, our best TT guy in the field did not realize it either. Not having a good sprint, it was sad that I knew and they didn't. I gave my best effort and found myself sprinting next to my teammate way to far out. CRAZY!!! David already said he was not a sprinter. I could have used his power to get me closer to the line. Instead, I faded and was passed by three folks to finish 13th. Missed my 10!

EVO took 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, and 15th. Those numbers should all be less than 10 w/ a 1st place finish to boot.

Crushed I was. I started looking for excuses and had to check my attitude. It took a few email slings off list w/ Chris and Chad to set me straight. Thanks Brothers. We will make it happen this week. EVO will win . . . PERIOD!!!

But my weekend was not over. My little Brother and I headed south for The Peter Teeuwen Memorial Omnium Time Trial in Chesapeake, VA. As we showed up Sunday AM I ran into SLUG, JUNK and Ray. Was told that the EVO Godfather, VIC da Brick was there as well. Nice! The pressure was on to do better than my Church Creek TT effort over a month ago.

At the start line, JUNK passed on course info . . . thanks Bro! So after a great warm up, I was ready to hit it and off I went. The wind heading out was not harsh but was more than the little TURTLE engine could handle. The "I think I can, I think I can" chant drifted to looking at my speed and wondering why it was not picking up. There was little to no rhythm in legs or breathing. I was a disaster on the dance floor. I shifted through gears looking for the right mix as my speed began to fade even more. Even though I caught 2 riders, 3 had caught me. I was not doing well.

Making the turn for the last 10 K I found my groove and was able to keep a consistent speed (hleped by a bit of tail wind). Could have used that 25K ago!!! I was late to the party and had no date or anyone to dance with at this point. It was a solo effort down the Soul Train line with my best atempt to bust a move . . .

For about 30 sec I believe I could brake an hour. NOT!!! I crossed the line at 1:02:28. Average speed of just 32 KPH. I need soooooooooooo much more work.

21 separate events (Road races, CRITs, and TTs) completed to date and a top 10 finish remains just outside my reach. Discouraged? NEVER!!! This just sets me up w/ experience and a since of dedication to attack next season as a CAT 4 TURTLE. The Rabid TURTLE is not done . . .

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