Obviously that lasted until I realized that there was a bike race I could fit into my schedule, because playing bikes is way awesomer than training bikes.
Especially when it's a mere 25 mile road race with 20 cat 3s in it. None of this riding-in-the-pack for hours BS, this was going to be an hour of action! Or something. Anyway, it seemed fun. So off I went, with Steve, RMM and geewhits as gas money. On the way down, RMM regaled us with tales of getting Curley'ed in a past edition of this race, and filling our heads with lies like "the break will go on the first lap, so you have to cover everything." As you might imagine, #iwasexcite.
On to the racing.
The race started and sure enough, Bill Kenney attacked. Someone bridged. RMM told me "that's not the break." I sat, secure in the knowledge that RMM would never lie to me. Not 30 seconds later, he went flying across the gap to "not the break." Well then.
Sufficiently panicked, I jump on the next bridge attempt, which turned into a string-out-the-field attempt, which turned into everyone riding together again, and me realizing that riding kinda-hard in the woods for 3 hours has shockingly little to do with going anaerobic on a road bike.
At this point (2 miles in) I would typical start hiding in the field and do nothing until the sprint. Unfortunately, with only 20 dudes and a firm crosswind, there was nowhere to hide! So I had to pay attention, and stuff.
Because of the small field, we all knew that a 4-5 man break would be really dangerous, so every time a move got started, EVERYONE tried to jump on it once it got 2-3 guys in it, and as a result the only thing that stuck in the first half of the race was Oscar from Ride Studio going clear solo.
The very-predictable counterattack went right away, but everyone wanted a piece of THAT, of course, so it went nowhere. And then, somehow, not only had Oscar hung onto the acceleration, but he rode back up to the front and attacked again.
RMM and I joked about how, if nothing else, he would get the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for tomorrow's stage.
This attack didn't work, either, nor did all the other small moves that followed it. On lap 4 (out of 5) Steve took off, and just like Oscar's previous solo moves we all kinda looked around and said "meh." And there he went.
Oscar hadn't been off the front for like, 5 or even 10 minutes at this point, so obviously he was the guy who rode across the gap once Steve had been out there for a while.
Apparently Oscar is in way better shape than me right now. Luckily, road racing doesn't directly measure fitness.
So Steve and Oscar stayed off the front into the final lap, but never far enough away to be scary. In fact, they we bridge-ably close, as two more guys proved with about 4 miles to go.
Our chase remain close but disorganized.
Steve got shelled by the break, indicating that it was becoming "business time."
We surged a little, and I counted the break at 11 seconds going into the main climb on the loop, 2.5 miles from the finish.
The break shelled Oscar on the climb, which gave me the fodder to heckle his RSC teammates about contributing to the chase. I have learned from my sensei, RMM, that heckling other teams for not working is the most satisfying part of cat 3 racing.
The RSC guys cringed but they knew I was right. Unfortunately, Jay decided to attack, instead of just nicely ramping up the pace, so we rocketed briefly up to 30 mph, brought the break down to 5 seconds, and started looking at each other again.
No one wanted do that last bucket of work to guarantee the catch, now that we were within 1.5 miles of the finish. I think most of us knew we only had one more big effort left (I know I did) and I had no intention of doing it so someone else could win. Thus.... break chicken.
We pick up the action with about a mile to go. Do you know how FAR a mile is? Because my brain sure doesn't. I felt like the finish was just over the top of the hill at this point:
If you're not interesting in 2 minutes of video, well, Scott Glowa (CB) launched on the hill, Nevin Rallis (Bikeman) tried to go with him and I burned my entire matchbook trying to get on that wheel. Nevin and I were rolling up on Scott as we came of of the last turn... and I was ready to make one final effort... except we were still 35 seconds from the finish line and everyone else was about to slingshot off of me.
Combine that with Nevin and I hooking elbows a second later, and I GAVE. UP.
And now I have to live with that for a week. Dammit!