Traditionally, CSI is where I save my cyclocross season, because it's a crazy-fast grass crit that lets wheelsucking sprinters like myself ride waaaay over their heads. Despite this year's October snowpocalypse, Look Park melted in the nick of time and we got the file-tread conditions I was praying for. The true professionals were in Cincinnati, but everyone who MATTERED (aka my cat 2 scrub brethren!) were present. Let's do this!
The gun went off and we freaked out on the outside line into a top-15 start!
Any time you find yourself coasting in a bike race next to Justin Lindine, things are going well. Unless he is lapping you.
Unfortunately when we hit the first turn, everyone dive bombed it and got jammed, and when Anthony gets jammed he FREAKS OUT (of course, in general, when X happens, Anthony freaks out). So he swung wildly into traffic, and I swung out to stay alive, and the guy behind me swung out... but there was a fence. So he bounced off the fence, and back into me, and I started slowly but surely crashing as we entered the pavement. PERFECT TIMING!
Of course in retrospect I pretend I know exactly what happened, but I am almost certainly wrong about something. I think that Stephen Pierce, and John Burns and I ended up lying on the pavement while everyone else was sprinting as hard as they could, which really sucks for us.
But you know what they say, live by the freakout, die by the freakout.
I got back on the bike and had that sickly feeling you would get if you stepped on your cat by accident. I was ahead of approximately no one. I was NOT HAPPY.
But! Two minutes of riding later on my favorite cyclocross course ever, I had forgotten everything and it was time to RACE DA BIKES. There were a lot of people watching us race the bikes and there was no time to explain to them that I didn't actually stink as much as my current near-last position would indicate. So I better move up!
I did my standard racing "strategy" of sitting on wheels and passing dudes every time there was a course feature other than "straightaway," and after 20 minutes of this I had attained respectability. It was actually working much better than usual, which confused me, and eventually I ended up off the front of one of the groups I had been working through with pretty much nothing ahead of me.
Well, there was a group of like seven guys twenty seconds up, but that group contained Sweeney and The Wilcox, and if there's anything I CANNOT DO it's bridge a 20-second gap, solo, to a group with that kind of firepower. Right?
Half a lap later I realized I was actually closing the gap, and while I didn't understand how it was happening, I sure wanted it to keep happening. I ramped it up to bridge-or-bust intensity instead of just "ride pretty hahd" and sure enough, it WORKED. Uh, wow.
Interestingly, at least three dudes in that group ended up dropping out with perfectly functioning bicycles, proving that for the aspiring UCI-points-scorer, "Colin Reuter just bridged to your group" is a sign it's time to throw in the towel for the day.
But if they don't want to hang out and fight for the eighteen-dollar-zone it's their loss! I fought my way through the group with a rare sense of urgency as dudes fell off the back of it, and eventually it was down to just three of us: Sweeney, Bobby Bailey, and myself. The Wilcox, unfortunately, had noticed that I was in the process of attempting to WILCOX HIM (how ironic) and had attacked the group before I could get to the front. But everyone else was dropped!
|Fastest (easiest) sand pit EVAR. I have no idea how you could crash in this.|
But Sweeney I am quite familiar with.
In any case, it was definitely time to enact the tried-and-true strategy of sitting on and smoking 'em at the end, because I was le tired from my earlier pursuit.
Kevin might've thought that I would pull through since I was his teammate, but the presence of Bobby made me disinterested in helping. I also knew that if I attacked, Kevin would cover it (the same way I'd cover his attack) because THERE'S NO TEAMMATES IN THE EIGHTEEN DOLLAR ZONE!
Well anyway, Kevin was annoyed that we were drafting him, so he decided to crash on a root on the last lap. Bobby drilled it, I went with him, and now it was just the two of us!
Years of coming to Northampton have showed me that the final straightaway is actually impossible to sprint on. Unless you're Luke Keough sprinting against my grandmother, you can't come around ANYONE in those last 100m, so the real sprint comes on the straightaway before that.
It's possible that Bobby didn't fully appreciate this fact.
In any case, I hit that straightaway with a final-sprint effort and got around Bobby AND a rocketing-backwards Manny Goguen* to become the MAYOR of the $18 zone (21st!). Which was pretty awesome considering that I one point I was lying on the pavement wondering if I was going to get run over.
|Team tactics: lead out the REALLY STRONG guy from another team.|