Canton Cup 1/2/3 Men Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.
After spending 4 hours Saturday pounding stakes and carrying barriers around at Canton, then riding a few hot laps, you might think that gave me some kind of advantage, physical or psychological. But you'd be wrong, because I'm a weenie, so I was physically beat and mentally scarred after realizing I spent an afternoon building a course that was horribly suited to me. "It's like a mile of pavement per lap!," I whined.
Still though, it's a bike race, and my mental state had actually come around quite a bit by Sunday afternoon. It was cold (40's) and windy (gusting to 40s?), and I decided this would be a good race to practice "riding smart" or "riding in a group" or whatever you want to call the sort of mid-race cooperation I normally ignore. We had 40 or so racers, great turnout for a non-Verge elite race, with a good range of skill -- from Jesse Anthony, to some chill bros who I lapped. A group for every speed!
Much to PvB's excitement I was rocking the seat cam again, unfortunately instead of 110 B men behind me it was more like "6 dudes" behind me coming off the pavement. No matter, it's a 60 minute race, the last thing I want is to get into a group that's going too fast, then I might "hurt a lot" and "do well."
The power sections were numerous but I did capture a sweet crash-and-roll on one of the few tough corners from the guy who went on to beat me by one place, check the video at 2:55. We got to the deceptively technical bike path and the pace heated up, I was going full gas, watching the wheel in the front of me and completely forgot how hard the first right hander on the path would be at race speed -- five bushes and three lost places later, I had new respect for that one (3:35 in the video).
I kept dropping places on the uphill off the bike path, it bottlenecked really hard and everyone else started running. I brilliantly decided to conserve energy by not dismounting, and there went another two places. The seat cam reveals at this point there were not many -- if any -- people still behind me.
After the mini-barriers (ridden!) the course gets tighter so I couldn't make any places, so as we hit the runup back to the track I was still about 5 places from last, and the assembled crowd let me hear their disappointment quite clearly. Buoyed by cheers and adrenaline I foolishly put the hammer down on the track and started grabbing places while trying to ride with my chest on my down tube. This maneuver ended up hurting a lot, but it did give the lean, mean, green, lyme-disease-recovering machine a wheel to chase around the track (7:10).
With a lap in the books Cort came through to add some more power, I don't remember what group we
were trying to catch but I do remember it hurting a lot. Some early use of the pain face kept me on his wheel, but I could tell this was going to be a rough next 50 minutes.
Cort pulled away after a bit and I spent the next two laps chasing him, it seemed like every time I'd see him in the next group up the road, I'd go hard to bridge there and right as I made contact he'd ride off the front again. I kind of hit my stride doing the bridge-rest-bridge-rest racing through laps 3-5, so I eventually reeled Cort in and tried to tell him (in that typical mid-race idiotic conversation way) that I was not enjoying chasing him around. He responded with a mean pull on the bike path that got us nearly onto the next group, containing Guenter Hofer and some other dudes.
By now we were reaching the just-hang-on stage of the race, though, so simple things like "stay on that group" were pretty tough, as a result of some fast pulls from a guy in a tri team kit (shocking!) Cort and I both got gapped again. I figured I owed him one so I put in possibly the first recorded pull of my life on the bike path to try to get us back on. It kind of worked, we didn't get there but we were close enough that I made contact by riding the mini barriers.
From here on out I was focused on clinging to the wheel in front of me for the last two laps. We ended up forming a group of five (Guenter,Brian aka "the tri kit guy," Soren who crashed on lap one, myself and some guy in a Rite Aid kit). Unbeknownst to me, Cort got gapped during this process and got left in the wind alone, which led to the end of our shit-talking times together. Also unbeknownst to me, the "dude in a Rite Aid kit" was Robbie King, who was back here screwing around for unknown reasons. On the last lap he decided he wanted to ride away instead of winning the five-up sprint (which he also could have done quite easily) and attacked. This was a big old hurt sandwich for the rest of us as sticking with attacks by (former?) road pros isn't exactly something I do regularly. After a minute of frantic full throttle chasing our group was shattered and he was gone.
I was still kind of with Guenter and Soren, but the gaps were getting big. Guenter seemed even more blown than I was, so I went past and tried to bridge across one last time, I got to Soren's wheel but it was too big an effort to survive at the 60 minute mark. I had reached the awesome cramping-calves-while-running stage of fatigue, so when he dropped the hammer on the plane of pain (aka "the track") I folded like a cheap shirt,eventually rolling in six seconds back in 20th.
It turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting because of all the group riding -- a 60 minute TT on that course would have been murder. I've mostly come around on Canton -- it's a classic, right? Even if it's a stupid classic. Heck, it's our stupid classic. See you next year.
Linnea couldn't repeat her 2nd from New Gloucester the day before, and was forced to settle for 4th after a crash. My sympathy for someone who won enough prize money over the weekend to swim in it was minimal, but I gave it my best effort. You know how those pros are, head cases, the lot of 'em.
Addendum: After two laps I was riding behind Pete Bradshaw going onto the track and someone said to me "use him like a Kleenex." That's awesome, whoever that was.