Of all the race report's I've ever written, I think this one is the most delayed. Seven days! The actual writing of it hung in the balance all week -- but after a great weekend (Ice Weasels Saturday, Nationals "on TV" Sunday) I'm psyched for cross again and decided that NBX Day 2 was, in fact, blogworthy. What's that, the season's over? Nonsense, it's only 9 months away.
So I laid down the somewhat-common "Saturday of Suck" at NBX Day 1. That's ok, rise from the ashes and eat souls Sunday, right? Right.
The promised snow made a nice showing in Boston, but was totally absent from the venue. Disappointing but predictable -- the ocean was just too warm for snow at Goddard Park. Apparently only goes back one year, because I had no idea how fast a dry NBX Day 2 course was going to ride. I thought it was going to be technical, but you almost didn't have to brake at all. Or maybe I just needed to pedal harder.
Anyway, if you've seen the video, that should get you up to speed with how my race started. Third row, outside lineup, good start into the top 15, awesome, just sprint and stay on the wheel for an hour! It was all going so well for three minutes, right up until I had to settle in and the recovery sections I had remembered didn't actually exist. There was a ton of pedaling (yeah, it's a bike race, that'll happen) and then you got a 30 second sand run for recovery. As a result, the group I wanted to be in (the "Wilcox group") dumped me before a lap was over and I started drifting backwards to wherever I actually belonged with the legs I had.
Turns out that was a LONG way back. One at a time riders passed me steadily, for the first 4 laps. If it wasn't the LAST RACE OF THE YEAR I would have started to think about dropping out. Nothing to save it for, might as well just keep abusing my legs as punishment for not working.
Finally I stabilized, about 10 seconds ahead of PVB and Pete Rubijono. Not a good place to settle, really, since PVB was a crowd favorite and his proximity to me was the subject of every cheer I heard. And the message was definitely not "good work Colin, you can open this gap!"
I didn't want to time trial for half an hour to maintain the gap, so I sat up and let him catch me. As he made the catch he said "jeez Reuter, I'm getting tangled up in your parachute back here!" Greatest mid-race heckle I've ever received. This is why there is a PVB shirt.
I went immediately to wheel-groveling. This only emboldened the crowd to cheer harder for PVB as he dragged me around. The elastic stretched, but never snapped. People commented after the race that it didn't look like I was having fun, which is false; I was grimly enjoying the fact that it was taking 100% of my bike racing ability to stay with Pierre, because really, is that not why we do this damn sport? To have a reason to do something as well as you can? After a while, the fact that we were racing for a spot about 10 places lower than my goal when the race started ceased to matter. I was gonna finish my season racing my ass off against one of my friends, that's about as good as it gets.
So while I was struggling to maintain contact, Rubi joined the group and went to the front. Pierre apparently allowed him to gap off the front a bit, perhaps this was some of that "lame east coast stuff" I had heard so much about. However, I was not getting heckled about Rubi's position every lap, so I was fine with him riding away. Eyes on the prize! Even if that prize is PVB....'s butt.
With the lap count down to two to go I started to get that season-ending adrenaline, where 15 minutes of pain seemed not only doable, but necessary.
Coming into the uphill sandpit I came around PVB and started bridging the gap to Rubi. I was using the "come in flying and ride as long as you can" strategy, which was workin' great, right up until this time when I hooked a brake hood on a wooden stake right when I started my dismount. The front wheel instantly jacknifed and I got launched. PVB passed me back and I went into the always-dangerous post-crash panic.
Luckily I crashed with the most technical part of the course coming up, so I put the pieces back together to rejoin the group before the bigtime pedaling and running happened. Before the long sand run Rubi laid it down hard in the mud, and suddenly it was mano-a-mano for what little marbles were left with one to go.
We got the bell and PVB punched it on the pavement. In typical PVB fashion, his rear hub (I think) made a crazy buzzing sound when he cornered hard, and I was scared to keep it tight on the corner since I was expecting his bike to explode. The draft was briefly lost, but I'm sadly no stranger to having to bury myself on pavement to hang onto a wheel. I gave it everything I had to stay in contact, and after the last paved turn a disappointed PVB looked back and said "ah, I was hoping that was it."
I'M AFRAID NOT, SIR!
So I counterattacked into the sand, because that went well last lap. This time I avoided the stakes and hit the top with a small gap... six minutes left of the season? GO.
And I went!
Made it to the finish line with enough time in hand to dole out some high-fives (you better believe I'll high-five you at NBX, no matter how I ride) and head straight for the beer before I could get hypothermic.
Best of all, we finished 24th & 25th, that's the last two paying spots! So glad I didn't steal the last paycheck from PVB.
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