Despite ULTRAPaully's best efforts, I got a great random draw on Saturday. So great, in fact, that Adam Craig's lackadaisical sprinting was the only reason I didn't go into the first turn in the top 30 (when you're a cat 2, you don't pass guys who went to the Olympics in the start, there's rules about this).
This early positioning advantage was then swiftly cratered with a series of three bobbles in the beer garden section on lap one where what felt like the entire field went by me -- I got pinched into a post (2:20), then had a dead stop due to a crash in front of me (2:33), and then tangled with Radshaw when we were all flipping out trying to get going again (2:45).
Dan Fitzgibbons was right behind me and he definitely got a worse deal, though:
Day 1 at @gpgloucester I got caught in an ugly lap 1 bobble-accordion. But it was uglier for @igknighted08 #gpgcx pic.twitter.com/i49XRIR14m— Colin Reuter (@resultsboy) October 17, 2016
After this nonsense I was firmly back in my natural habitat (the scrub zone) and I raced my bike as passionately as possible for the rest of the day. I fell into a nicely sized group of dudes who kept picking up more dudes. Mike Wissell was in the group and apparently preferred using his excess fitness to make jokes and high-five the crowd than drop us, which was "nice" if you consider having a guy talking to you while you're totally redlined to be "nice."
At about 2.5 to go, someone crashed in the middle of the group, right in front of Mike and I. This caused Mike to burn an entire match worth of oxygen complaining about certain other people's riding abilities, and then when he finished with that he decided to actually race his bike at full ability and that was the end of hanging out with me.
However, you might note I just said "about 2.5 to go" and the next sentence wasn't "and then I got pulled." That's right, the demise of Holy Week and/or my very slightly better fitness meant that for the first time since 2009 I was in contention to actually finish at Gloucester! So Mike's departure didn't break me, because all I cared about was not hearing that whistle.
Coming up the hill at two laps to go, the official was looking at his watch, but I was safe! Well, according to the actual 80% rule I was safe. But guess what, in the 6 years I've gotten pulled at Gloucester, I've been pulled at one-to-go THREE TIMES. So assuming they'll let you through at 1-to-go (when all you need to do is cross the finish line to avoid impeding the race winner) is a dangerous assumption.
(Oh and the guy 10 seconds behind me *did* get pulled, so it's not like I was working with a big cushion here)
Aaaaanyway the second to last lap was ridden as hard as possible, and when I got to the finish hill it was LINED with fans and photographers who were not there to see me, but they made tons of noise anyway and it was great!
I got across the finish line, didn't get pulled, immediately blew sky-high, and limped around a final lap to FINISH THE BIKE RACE AT GLOUCESTER WOOOOOO
Day 2I paid the price for my random-draw luck and got a back-row start on day two. I always seem to move up well when we start on this side of the hill, though (see: last year), so my position was significantly improved by the time we hit turn 1.
And then, just like Day 1, I got caught in a series of bobbles (hmm, two days in a row might suggest I am a contributing factor here, and it's not just luck? NAHHHH) and ended up in literally last place about two minutes into the race.
So that wasn't ideal.
But yesterday's lead lap finish and a tiny bit of confidence in my fitness (what?!) meant that I was willing to pedal hard on a few straightaways and I more or less got up to where I wanted to be when things settled in after two laps.
Unfortunately, the course seemed to have more extended power sections, and a LOT more wind than the day prior, so people were riding LIKE ME out there... that is, sometimes maybe not pedaling as hard as they could. So the nicely-sized scrub group I was in started having guys regain contact from behind.... and what was once a group of four people I could trust became a mess of nine dudes who were definitely going to be super annoying if they stuck around to the end of the race.
Drastic measures were called for.
I. took. a. pull.
Andrew Lysaght was marshalling and he immediately told me "not to pull these guys around," which was right, but what he didn't know was that pulling only two guys around was a vast improvement from pulling eight around.
(Note: this "pull" may have been a bit of an "attack-pull")
So I split the group and brought Wissell (again?!?) and Matt Perrault with me. After a bit, they came through and were like "thanks for the ride, let's continue at this pace" and my body was not as receptive to that as I would have hoped.
They shelled me and I floundered around in windy no-mans land thinking about how I was getting hungry, and the lap was so long that EVERYONE was gonna finish, and craaaaap I definitely don't have the gas to hold off Scott Yarosh for 15 more minutes.
I sat up a bit, waited for Scott, and he caught me at about one to go. Some other dudes were also apparently getting hungry and sad, because we caught Matt Sousa, Tim Willis and Zach Curtis around this time. Time for a last lap throwdown, and I never lose last-lap throwdowns!
Sousa cheered for me when I passed him, because he is very nice. Tim lurked for a bit and then attacked, because he is less nice. We got to the ballfield as a group of four (sorry Sousa) and I knew what I had to do, hang on to the top of the hill and then win the sprint just like always.
But it turns out the sprint was actually going to start on the ballfield hill, and then start again when we hit the pavement climb, and then start a final time at the crest of the hill into a headwind -- and after sixty eight minutes of racing I didn't actually have three sprints in me.
So we hit the crest of the hill, I was on Scott's wheel, I dropped a gear, and my brain was like "light 'em up!" and my legs were like
So I did not win the sprint. But I did finish the bike race! Again! And get 43rd! Again! So everything was okay.
Here is the video.