So one for the “The Universe hates Cosmo” file today. Drive into the start with no worries (other than the massive calzone I foolishly ate all of the night before), and rode up (helmet on) to staging to sign in. Immediately I get yelled at to get off my bike at the staging tent. Keep in mind, no one else is here – the Cat 4 race is done, I don’t race for another hour, and Masters 35+ is on course. But hey, just because I loathe authority doesn’t mean I always ignore it. I get off my bike, sign in and head back to the car to warm up.
The parking lot is filled, I mean swarming, with dudes riding around with no helmet on. But hey, no big deal, right? The officials can’t fine everyone right? Cosmo should just watch out for Cosmo. I get the bike ready, and as I am doing so, realize there’s about 65psi of pressure in my tires. Granted, I left the wheels in my car, and there were big temp swings (91 the previous day, around 70 this AM) but still, I’m betting that I didn’t have 110psi in yesterday’s TT.
Once everything’s set, I ride around Fitchburg, adhering to the rules of the road, and not, as the race bible insists I avoid, riding on the course for warm up. I get a good HR in, the legs still feel effing horrible, but no big deal. Line up, endure a massive wait (scheduled start was 10:55, I think we were off by 11:10). The course suffers a bit from the Cox problem – the downhill is too long and gradual so everyone keeps on. Points sprint lap the first time around, too, so without a call out or a well-chosen starting position, really no shot at it.
Pace is decently hot (27.something mph avg for our pathetic 28 mile race), so I hang out in the wheels mostly, dodging the twitchy riders, staying out of trouble and moving up carefully. The descent is terrifying – I’m in 53/11, turning 80 rpm or so, surrounded by people moving this way and that. No one really has much faith in this field, so people start trail off in these 40mph half-wheel echelons as soon as they need to hit the brakes to avoid plowing into the rider of front of them. I come around the final turn for the second point sprint around 10th or so, but it’s still too far back to make an attempt.
Next lap I sit up a bit and get enveloped. No one wants to pull into the headwind so things spread out across the surprisingly bumpy road. When we make the sharp corner onto the downhill (w/ a tailwind) it doesn’t string – just a little cone of 10 or so guys, then a wall of the half-wheel echelon. I try to move up, and suddenly there’s a massive weave in front of me. Apparently, someone had been indecisive about which side of the median that appears about 2 miles into the lap to swing to. No one crashes, and I make it through ok, but at this point, I admit to myself there’s no way I can win/score points in the race with my legs like this.
So for the rest of the race (which was too short – barely an hour. Men’s 2 race was more than twice as long) I’m sitting like 50th or so, just trying not to get killed. At one point, I was on the wheel of the race leader (they wear orange here), all alone, about 10 feet to the left of the main field, because the twitching was so ridiculous. As we’re coming into the finish, people are going uber-nutty, and I end up dead last around the final corner. No big deal, and I cruise past a couple guys, for what I think was a pack finish. Certainly, I didn’t see any gaps up the road.
Au Contraire, it seems. Though neither I, nor anyone else watching the race saw it, apparently a nearly FOUR SECOND (!) gap appeared 4 wheels in front of me. I had my doubts, but what can you do? Protest the finish camera? So I lose 28 seconds because so herb (Andras Gipp of Affinity, you just made The List) couldn’t hold a frickin’ wheel. To add insult to injury, as I’m cooling down, I see some Women’s riders just riding into the sign-in tent, unmolested by the officials, and a guy from Rite-Aid doing repeats up the hill during the Women’s race. Then, on the way back from changing, I got yelled at for riding on the sidewalk.