Sometimes, being a bike racing superfan is a good thing. For example, I don't really burn out, even though I race for 11.5 months of the year, and I can entertain myself pretty much indefinitely at any race venue just because... dude, bikes.
But sometimes being a superfan can burn you. It's a long story, but I ended up going down to Providence at stupid o'clock with Chip even though my race wasn't until 3 pm. I was kitted up and riding the course at 9:15, while TJ and everyone else who was going to beat beat me were probably still lying in bed. What can I say, I was at a bike race, I was excited!
I got to show Chip the "pro pin" (I learned it from Josh Jamner) and a host of other "pro" tricks. I think I have a future in coaching masters on race day details. Common sense masquerading as coaching! I could totally do this. Actually, is that any different from any other coaching?
I chased Chip around the course during his race telling him he looked beautiful in his white skinsuit. That could be part of my coaching package too, "I will lie to you while you race." The confidence of being sexually propositioned by a 20-something male was good enough to propel him to a 24th place finish, a season best.
Anyway, by the time noon rolled around, I'd been on my feet for 3 hours and wasn't feeling so chipper after four or five fast preride laps. BUT IT'S SO FUN!
And three hours after THAT, it was finally race time. My teammate Kevin was doing his first-ever elite race, and as the "experienced guy" (yeah, I've done four of these) I knew the most important thing on the day was crushing that newbie.
Unfortunately my crushing went immediately off track when I shifted into the gear I wanted to start in -- oh, hey, broken rear derailleur housing on my 2-week-old bike! How does this stuff happen?
I knew about 9000 people at the venue and of course, not a single one was within earshot except the guys I was racing. I could see Linnea a few hundred feet away taking my pit bike off the trainer, and I tried really hard to will her to walk over to the start so I could tell her I was coming straight to the pit. No luck. Finally, around the 1-minute warning, Matt Roy came down to the start grid and I was able to send the message through him.
Knowing I was going straight to the pit definitely hurt my aggressiveness in the start, although I still got to put an elbow on Michael Rea on the first turn like I knew what I was doing. I thought he was Ryan so I started yelling obscenities preemptively.
We got to the pit in tight traffic and I was able to check that my bike was actually there before entering, only because someone was nice enough to break the tape after the true entrance.
Switching bikes on lap one is a good way to lose a bunch of spots, too. That sucked. I got back into the race and set about fighting for wheels. The thing was, my legs just weren't there, and my head knew it, and I just didn't have the edge needed to actually compete in a Johnson/Driscoll UCI race.
I was on Kevin's wheel and feeling bad, which didn't help, because I already knew that the crushing wasn't going to happen. I put a foot down when he bobbled a corner and let him know about it, but my weak psychological warfare was no match for his A game.
So he rode away and I raced for a while with my B game. I was in a group with Gabe and Cort for a bit, and in a prime example of the difference between "A game" and "B game" I let myself get taken out of the group by tailgunning as we overtook a fast starter/slow racer. They all got around before the longest runup, I didn't, and by the time I did the gap to them was five seconds, and... waaaaaah, you know?
Thanks to Linnea and Mavic Neutral Guy (I have visited him so often this season I should really know his name) I got my carbon-wheeled bike back before the race was half over. It was interesting to feel the immediate difference in the wheels -- the pit bike has some Kysriums on it which are lighter than the HEDs, but the stiffness of the HEDs and intimidating "ping" they make while shifting make them nicer to ride.
Sadly by the time I'd gotten the bike back I'd resigned myself to riding until I got lapped and calling it a day. I nearly dropped out, until I remembered that every single time I have ever DNFed with a working bike I've regretted it.
So anyway, I rode around the course feeling sorry for myself for a while, until Tim finally lapped me around the 50 minute mark. Great. Crap like this is why I race twice a weekend.
Oh! I almost forgot, the highlight of the whole race was probably getting heckled by Steven ("You're getting beat by Kevinnnnnnn"), starting to respond ("I knowwwww") and then crashing before I could come up with a decent retort. He felt stupid, I felt stupid, it was great.
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