Wayne Elliot Memorial Circuit Race.
Wow, did this race stink. Seriously, like Turtle Pond bad. Ok, ok... so I thought it stunk. There were no large teams present; it was a typical Cat 4 Katamari ball rolling around the roads of Merrimack, shooting riders off in pretty much all directions. The end of the race was awful. (made worse by the never-ending guilt I feel for putting Steve into the shoulder) We did have fun riding up and down Carcass Road or whatever it was called after the race. There was a vulture.
blue hills classic:
So much better, but we had our work cut out for us on this one. We had a bunch of us registered, but our numbers paled in comparison to some of the other teams (Threshold fielded an amazing 11 riders!). Numbers, as you will see, can be deceiving. For example: Avi is still training and finding his legs and this race would be Ryans first road race in 4 years - their goal would be to gain experience and confidence (both performed admirably). That leaves Nick, Erik, Greg and me.
The race started with a pile of Threshold guys at the front (and, it seemed, a pile of Threshold guys around me) and after about 5 minutes, the first of many riders buying round trip tickets off the front.
Delaying the inevitable.
We had no illusions about an escape sticking - before the race, we talked about getting Greg in a break, but I really felt that the finish played directly to Gregs strengths. The problem, it seemed, was getting him there in the right place to launch a decisive attack. It was too risky trying to bring Greg to the line - the nightmarish image of an 10 man leadout train for Randall was more than I could bear - so we talked about sending him out at the "second set of guardrails". Or was it the first guardrail? Whatever. I sent him too early, I'm sure.
In the first lap, Nick took a short vacation off the front with guys from the two most well-represented teams in the field, taking the pressure off us and initiating Thresholds Operation Block The Ever Loving Crap Out Of The Road. The break gained little ground, and I think an ECV guy managed to somehow get around the Maginot Line, opening the floodgates and pissing riders up the road. Greg got himself in the mix, and I floundered a bit behind the astute Matts (Miller and AuMiller) while they worked the front and was then unceremoniously put over the yellow lines by the charging hordes of the teamless.
Nick and his Flourishing Classics Mullet.
My composure somewhat regained, I passed through the two turns before the climb and moved to the front. My goal was to control the pace of the climb up the hill - not to kill myself (or get in too much of an adventure up the road) but to keep any of the stronger climbers from me having to chase them. I did get clear of the field with a few guys but upon cresting the hill I sat up, much to the dismay of the rest of the group. "Say, guys - you know what team doesn't have someone in here? Oh yeah, THE ONE WITH 11 DUDES". And those 11 dudes were doing their jobs quite well. Awesome.
After the descent, things started to get a even more animated. Over and over, dig after dig, groups of two and three broke away. Since most of them carried riders of the more well-represented teams, I made it my business to be in pretty much all of them. Since the race was so short, the attacks came rapid-fire; as soon as one came back, another went. It was killing me. If Threshold kept that kind of pressure on, they could have fried me and AuMiller. But the attacks came piecemeal, and I was able to glom on to random wheels as they flew by. I was still dying, though.
Just when I was praying for death hardest, the Petterson Pain Wagon rolled by. I found a reasonable wheel to suck and and let him do his thing ("His thing" is to crush souls. Just so you know.)
Around the corner again and feeling better I moved to the front for the climb. I pushed much less hard this time, just to see if anyone would react. Nope. Crested the hill, got heckled by some GLV folks on the side of the road, and rolled on down the other side. Or, started chasing down what seemed like an endless stream of Threshold guys. Cambridge was remarkably quiet, which was worrisome - Matt AuMiller was working the living hell out of the front and I hadn't yet seen much of Steve Pierce - which was why it was worrisome. Steve is strong.
this video should give you a pretty good idea of what happened at the end, but if you are looking for some flavor text:
- Matt Miller took a bit of a flyer. It hurt my feelings that he went without me, so I invited myself along.
- A threshold rider was dangling off the front for about a quarter of the last lap. No one knows why.
- 545 Velo took to the front, hammering. Like they were riding for a guy they thought was there, but wasn't.
- Cambridge was in fine shape: they had 3 riders around Steve. Then there were none. Then AuMiller comes through with the Super Teammate Award, pulling back up through the mess.
- I let those 545 guys sit on the front for awhile. Like, a long while. I'm still not sure what they were doing, but I am very thankful they did it.
- I sat on the front and rode. Hard. Greg was giving surprisingly gentle instructions from behind. Very tender.
- By the time I thought about standing up and vomiting out another hundred or so feet, Greg decided to launch himself. I dropped anchor and was done, except for my little ring sprint with Seth, which went splendidly. As in he didn't know we were sprinting (or, much more likely, could care less).
Greg won by a bullriders margin - 8 seconds up on the field, launched from about a kilometer out on the last climb.