Before I bring the fear with the gory details, I'll start with the good stuff . . .
My last weekend of road racing (this season that is--a bit too mental to go into rehab for this addictive drug...I WILL RACE FOREVER!!!) began with the final installment of the 540Cycling Development Series. After a poor personal effort in race 1, a bit of confusion and poor communication in race 2, Evolution Cycling Club's CAT 5 crew came to the line hungry for victory. OH yeah, this is why this is so addictive. Give me another hit of pure testosterone will ya!!!
We revised our strategy a number of times. Chris Carlson had the plan and I had my orders. I told the Brothers that I was not going to fall back in the pack like last race. I would stay near the front no less than 5 deep and haul the mail as best my little TURTLE sticks could. I had one of the best warm ups I have had in a long time. I took the full hour!!! I was hydrated, I was pumped (withoutRedBull), I was ready . . .
So off we went and within the first lap I moved to position 3 and then bounced up to 2. After a few laps the bell rang for a prime. In an instant, I decided to go for it. Sitting second wheel, I had never been in a position for such an effort. Heck, this was my last circuit race so why not try something new?
Entering the last turn and small up hill section, I was still second wheel. I just had to time my break out effort to win the prime. However, others were there to spoil my TURTLE glory. Two others moved to my left and the third was my teammate Chad. I was still hungry for the prime and decided to go for it. About 25m from the line I remembered why TURTLE has never won a prime. TURTLE can't sprint!!!
What was I thinking? Again, will someone please remind me of the century and month. I was just about to get slain again!!! I was toast after the effort and for a fleeting painful post (and very poor) sprint pedal strokes, I wondered if I would get shot out the back for my treachery. Who was I to contest a prime? I'm a TURTLE for a reason . . .
Falling about 10 deep, Jon Burns, a brother racing unattached yelled, "Get on TURTLE!" Got to love that push from someone you have just recently met . . . I got back on. Don't know how but I did. I sat back a bit to recover. While in the pack some guy kept pinching my ass. I thought it was a hint to move up or move over. Later I found out it was fellow teammate Jamie Lees letting me know he was there. The first time surprised me. The 5th time I was starting to like it a bit too much and began the move up . . .
Confidence returning and seeing Chris Carlson near the front I knew I had to go back to work. I rolled up on him and told him I had it. I went back to position 2 and road hard until the next prime. Lost some ground on the surge for the prime but w/ 4 to go, the 5 of us moved to the front. The plan was Kevin, then me, followed by Chris and Chad. I think we failed to get all of the plan to Jamie but he was in on the effort none-the-less . . .
With 1 and 1/4 to go, the guy that had won the first two races jumped with a Coppi cat and had a nice gap on the field. I was second wheel and the guy in front of me was letting them get away. This was the move!!! With the team behind me I felt I had to chase. The effort burned all 3 of my matches. Even the last wet one was used. Chris finished off the effort just as we hit the start finish line and on the bell lap he and Chad went for it w/ Kevin and Jamie at the front of the group. No CAT 5 BLOB to the finish . . . Bill Gros and the EVO Elders would be proud.
The slight down hill played to the bigger riders and Chad got boxed in a bit and was caught. However, EVO did well. We took 3rd (Jamie), 5th (Chad), 14th (Kevin), 16th (Chris), 18th (me), and 21st (Jerry P). We got on the podium!!! Way to go Jamie. In fact, Jamie was 3rd in the CAT 5 race and 3rd in the CAT 5 35+ . . . ANIMAL!!!
So, my last circuit race as a CAT 5 and I failed to secure a top 10. My 18th place finish dropped me from 9th to 14th in the series. Not how I wanted to end my season but gives me more motivation for next year. Speaking of motivation, while wishing I had done better (yeah, TURTLE does sometimes has a bad moment), Roxanne, while limping around in a leg cast, smacks me in the back of the head to provide perspective. It worked . . . As SOC says, "Perspective is something that you don't have...until you have it." . . . I have it!!!
If finishing 18th was not hard enough I headed to the Page Valley Road Race on Sunday. The course offered a 1.5 mile climb and about 1000ft of climbing each lap. We would go up that climb 3 times . . .
Here I met up with SKIP who was just off his ride in France during the Tour and covering some of the great climbs. He looked lean and ready to rock. I began in bad shape and it only got worse . . .
The field broke apart on the first climb. I was joined by a guy on the decent and working together we picked up another. The three of us worked to meet up for SKIP after he sat up to wait for me. What a Brother!!! The four of us grabbed two others. This was AWESOME!!! Well...until the last climb . . .
Starting just 5min behind us were the CAT 4 women and SKIP put in a hard effort to ensure they would not catch us. As we reached the base of the final climb my legs began to cramp. SKIP and the other 5 cats rolled away. The last time I cramped this bad I was about 20lbs heavier!!! Tried my best to just pedal through it but could not. Stopped and actually got off the bike as everyone, to include the ladies field (led by Cat and Emma) can flying by. TURTLE was done!!! TURTLE TOAST scattered across the road as buzzards circled overhead . . .
It took every bit of mental will to get back on the bike. I wanted in the chase car bad!!! I marked two guys in front of me and caught them both. As I hit the last rise to the finish the cramping return. I saw the line and just punched it. I did as FISH asked, I left it all and more on the road. I saved the hardest race I have ever done for my last road race of the season . . .
With only the Church Creek TT on the calendar (2 weeks away), I'll submit my upgrade paperwork this week. Time to reflect on a season that started with a crushing at TradeZone (lapped three times in that CRIT) and ends with one equally as intense.
As I got home, my neighbor was just returning from bowling practice. For an instant I considered a sports change. Then I woke up and remembered the building of Rome took more than one season. I put my winter training wheels on my road rig and the run up to next year begins after some down time . . . and a few Dirty Martinis!!!