Fresh off a day of getting beat up by roadies, I went back to Gloucester with high hopes. I figured that whatever changes they made to the course would be in my favor -- it's not like they could make it less technical, right? So I was thinking that with a more intelligent fueling strategy and a harder course I could make the top 30.
Well, I neglected to account for the possibility that they might not change the course at all. I was seriously bumming when I discovered the same grass crit as the day before, but Linnea tricked me by pretending that she was even more bummed and was thinking about not racing (ah, to be able to reg day-of....). And then I was like, "Screw that, it's Gloucester, you gotta race," and I realized that even a grass crit is still a cross race, which means it's awesome.
So I did the same thing as the day before, starting in the 50s (thanks to callups and whatnot) but this time I resolved to be more conservative on the opening laps. It kind of worked, in that after two laps I felt like I was riding within myself, but on the other hand I was in 55th place or something like that. In summary, "pacing yourself" and "having a bad start" are basically the same thing in a cross race.
Coming through to start lap three I caught on to the back of a group containing CTodd, which made me say "holy crap, I'm behind CTodd?" I'm not ordinarily this much of a dick, but it was his second race of the day so I was expecting him to blow sky-high at about the five minute mark. And actually, now that I think about it, I am that much of a dick. Well anyway.
So I get to the group and one guy makes a little move up the outside, so I decide to move up with him, except he moves back in and suddenly I'm just riding into a 20mph breeze. Against better judgement I pick up the pace and go to the front of the 7-or-8 strong group, which makes me look great and makes my legs cry.
On the plus side I don't have anyone blocking me on corners so I lead us pretty well for half a lap, until we get to the dreaded long straightaway of windy mountain-biker eating doom. The group decides to let me lead and I do a very crappy job of it, because the idea of pulling these guys just to get swarmed around at the end of the straight doesn't seem very appealing to me.
Halfway down I see a flash of blue to the right and Rosey makes a bona fide attack down the other side of the course. Suddenly it's all hands on deck as me and the rest of the gang go sprinting after him. After 30 seconds of super-hard work, and some timely corners, I get back to his wheel, but the group is blown apart. We get to the pavement and he sits up, which is fine with me as I am about to explode anyway. Then on the steepest part of the hill he attacks again, Alex is screaming in my ear to go so I dig as hard as I can, sprinting all the way to the dirt. Once again I get on his wheel but this time the damage is done. Slowly but surely he rides me off his wheel through the next lap.
From here, it's all over but the suffering. A number of people who have got to be Cat 2 roadies keep blowing past me on the straights, each time I go sprinting after them to try to hang on. Some of them are just too strong, but on the last lap I successfully get on the wheel of a VeloEuropa guy who goes tearing past along the seawall. Our train of riders swells to four by the time we hit the pavement for the final sprint, with me sitting second. For the second time in two days I get to play roadie.
On the pavement I look back to see what's going to happen but as I do there's already a Boston Scientific guy next to me and flying past. I go all out after him, by the time I get up to speed he's got a gap, but it's a long uphill sprint so I claw my way into his slipstream. There's just enough time for 3 or 4 pedal strokes at only 100% effort before it's back into the wind at 110%. This time it's even closer at the line, and I throw my bike because I've always wanted to do that.
The end result from a totally different race on the same course? 42nd, one place worse than yesterday. Well, I had more fun this time, that's one benefit from a slower start.