This weekend was the second in a row of the "big travel to big races" lifestyle. Linnea is so pro now we have to go to any UCI C1 race within 600 miles of Boston, it's the contract I signed to keep hanging out with her. After another 10+ hours in cars and a much nicer hour on a ferry, I gotta say that I am burnt out on travel. I have no idea how some of the elites go points chasing to the Mid Atlantic and further every weekend. Man, I am so ready to sleep at home and not rush out of work on a Friday.
Travel aside, the event itself was pretty good, as long as you could look past the 20 degree windchill. I contemplated a nitpicky list of complaints about this one, USGP-whine style, but I'm making an attempt to grow up and not put every bad idea I have on the internet.
The course was tough to decipher, plenty of climbs and straights made it power-friendly but there were some tight, twisting wooded sections and on super-sketchy off camber descent. After two days of it (we rode Day 2 in the other direction) I think it's solidly in the "power-course" spectrum because the sandy turns are so loose, and the off-cambers so bumpy, you really can't ever rail the turns Noho-style and open up a noticeable gap on the more tentative turners.
My race got off to a poor start when I failed to understand the "unique" way they stage B races in the MAC. They started calling people up by MAC points, ok, that makes sense, after 15 or so people were up they called Cort, who had no MAC points, so they must have gone into calling up by reg order. Thinking I had some time I turned away and started taking off my jacket, at which point the official said "ok, everyone else line up" and 30 more people jumped into the grid. No wonder they had been crowding the callups. I sheepishly took my position at the back.
Before we could start (this race report may never actually get to the race...) the promoter came over and berated the field for "changing in the locker room in front of six-year-olds." I started having some deep thoughts about the Puritan roots of our country, until I realized that goddammit I drove all the way to Long Island and I can't even get naked in front of the kids??, and also if you don't want people using the locker room for its normal purpose, you might want to put up a sign.
IMPORTANT REVISION: The promoter I was just ragging on here (Myles) dropped me an email and apparently he was yelling at "us" for changing in the lobby in front of children of mixed gender, so my above paragraph is totally inaccurate, and whoever was getting naked in the lobby area is a freaking idiot. If you get naked in front of toddlers at my race I will yell at you also.
Finally I stopped introspecting and we got to the racing. Like a true pro I got a wicked jump on the start (pretty easy to do from the back row) and immediately boxed myself in between two guys with less than wicked jumps. I eventually had to back out of that and go around, at which point I actually started sprinting while being called out by my cheering section for being way, way back.
The first lap was a predictable mess -- quick ups, tight turns, single-file off cambers, you think 50 B men are going through that cleanly? Yeah right. I ran a lot. There was one guy back there with us who was blown away by our collective incompetence and was getting really aggro about it, which livened things up. Any time we bottlenecked and dismounted he'd groan at the top of his lungs "OH COME ON GUYS," and start trying to bully his way through while riding, which wouldn't work, so he'd let out another disgusted sigh, get off, and start trying to run through the crowd. The thing is, everyone running, we're all carrying bikes, so of course he made no progress other than entertaining us and warming up some air.
And hot damn did the air need warming, it was 30 degrees and windy and much of the course was in the shade. I had proper ski gloves and my hands went insta-numb when the race started as all the blood headed for my legs. Strangely enough they came back after two laps in a not-that-painful tingle, while my feet started warm and then just got worse and worse, until my toes quit working entirely and I could barely walk afterwards.
The thing about starting from the back is you always need to go around. Anyone you catch up to is going a tad slower (that's why you caught them... right?) so anytime you think you're being a sneaky drafter you're actually just riding slower than before. I actually learned this lesson last year so it wasn't too tempting to stick with people. It does, however, make the race report pretty dull, since I slowly and steadily caught of stream of people I didn't know.
But wait! Finally at the end I rolled up to an NYC Velo guy (Andrew Crooks) who stuck with me when I came around and soon had the audacity to pass me back. On the last laps we were smashing through lapped traffic and changing the lead back and forth, it was both exciting and painful. Every time I thought I'd put a lapped rider between us I'd pick up the pace, and every time he'd come back and retake the lead. With half a lap to go I realized I wasn't going to be able to ride away from him, so I quit coming around to try to win the sprint from behind.
The last turn was a nice slow 90 degree one onto pavement and the straight was short enough it was a pure fast-twitch drag race, no time to sit on a wheel and come around. That's pretty much the perfect setup for my "style," so I was able to manage some great suffering staying with him across the field and sand before it, and it paid off as I won the glorious sprint for 11th.
Post-race it was the usual running around like an idiot telling Linnea how far she was from getting paaaaaaaaid. Unfortunately UCI C1's with a $3,000 purse attract pretty fast competition (Lynn Bessette had a very lucrative two days of un-retirement, for example) so she missing the cash, and points, and finished in 17th. She did win the 3-way race for 17th like a rockstar (from the front), so at least my 40 minutes in the cold were somewhat rewarded.
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