I think the bar cam is actually my own personal guardian angel. Put it on the bike and NOTHING can befall me. I want sweet footage of crashes as much as the next guy -- but I and everyone around me seems to stay upright as soon as the camera's on.
On the other hand, if the battery dies and I take it off on the start line...
We were back to the traditional uphill start, which is about 100x better than the sketchball downhill start. Best of all, it's nice and long so that you can pick up a ton of places by going full gas all the way to the grass and then smoking some brake pads. I started in the drops for SPRINTING POWER but didn't really make much headway until we crossed the finish line... then BAM, like clockwork everyone started backing off and I slingshotted forward into the top 30, for the second day in a row. In the biggest race on the east coast. Legs and brain were on the same page for once: LET'S DO THIS.
So that's how I ended up all of six inches off Isaac Howe's wheel in the downhill corners after the runup. Isaac was USA Crit pro champion or something like that -- all I know is that he gets paid to race a bike on the road. So he's good at that. But unbeknownst to me, this was only his third time on a cross bike in his life. Had I known that, I might've given him seven or even eight inches of space...
It being lap one we were going STUPIDFAST and he washed out his rear wheel on the right hander down the hill from the beer tent. My initial reaction, as it is for every crash, was "oh sweet, free place" but this time it was followed by the realization that I had absolutely no chance to do anything but hit him.
So I T-boned his bike, somehow didn't break anything on either bike, went F-ing flying through the air, through the course tape, somersaulted a few times, rolled to my feet and sprinted back to my bike, which was tangled with his. Ta-da! The whole thing might've only been 15 seconds (thanks for nothing, missing bar cam), but that's 15 seconds on LAP ONE, so it was also 15 places.
I was now in the dreaded BRKZ. It is an unmistakable place. It reeks of impending mockery.
So it took me a few laps to fight my way through traffic up to the DRKZ (Drafting Ryan Kelly Zone), because RKelly has gotten a lot faster at racing a cross bike this year. This is also the first year he has ridden for the greatest team in the world. Coincidence? Please.
The DRKZ is technically also the BRKZ, so I had to leave. Luckily Dave Wilcox had done his traditional slow start/fast finish thing and was back there with me. So, the race became another rousing game of draft-the-Wilcox.
I rode a few laps with Wilcox and Stephen Pierce, with Dave on the front almost the entire time. I took a pull at one point just to see what it was like, and the answer was, "not pleasant." The only good part of it was that when Dave attacked, er, pulled through on the road after, I had put out 9000 watts to stay with him, and this gapped Stephen off.
As the race neared its conclusion, we started picking up casualties -- Manny Goguen had mechanical'ed early, chased too hard, and was coming back to us, and Shaun Adamson came out of the pit just ahead of us. With one to go it was basically a group of four, and I knew that some SWEET last-lap hijinks were going to ensue. I was already planning on being 3rd wheel off the last corner and dusting everyone, because I "never lose sprints" (except when I do).
Then, outta nowhere, Diane whistles us off the course. We were a solid 60 seconds ahead of Tim Johnson ON THE LAST LAP, so there was no reason to pull us -- in fact, the rules specifically say that the 80% rule doesn't apply on the last lap.
So it was just complete and utter bullshit, and it deprived the four people who were going to stick around the finish line for seven minutes after Johnson finish from seeing a freaking NICE 4-up sprint. See, I'm not upset, I'm just sad for the fans, you know?
According to Diane it had been instigated by Pierre the French-Canadian UCI official. Canadians! And to think, I once patronized a Tim Horton's in Rhode Island. Never again!
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