Under the advisement of Tom Luther, the NorEast club president, I raced the "B" race, which included some Category 3 riders--guys that have finished at least 35 races, and have finished in the top ten at least ten times. I think he thought I needed to be humbled after last week's NorEast team ride. Consider me humbled.
The course was the oval at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH. It also had a detour off the oval that went over a couple decently steep hills. As my group took off from the line, I slotted in perfectly near the front, but not at the front. I maintained that position for a couple laps, but I let myself end up on the front with the wind in my face, which wore me down for a little. I let myself get passed and slotted back in to the wind-protection of the middle of the pack of about 30 riders.
Eager to regain my position near the front of the pack, I got a little squirrelly and jumped around the inside of the turn going down the second hill. I took a really stupid, horrible line, and almost like killed everyone--it was pretty heinous. Everyone was okay though, and I ended up getting back on near the back of the pack, and slowly worked my way back up through the middle, the non-stupid way.
These races in Loudon are won by points, not by who finishes first. There are 15 laps around the course, and every third lap, three, two, or one points are rewarded for first, second, and third position, respectively. The ninth lap and the fifteenth lap are worth double points. The person with the most points at the end wins. The person with the most points at the end of the year wins the whole series.
After about the fifth lap, I decided I would sit in the middle-front of the pack, then go for it on lap nine. As we came down the tight-turning hill and back on to the oval, I saw a couple guys take off. I blasted off as hard as I could, and I got second place behind some guy in a speedsuit that was just hammering big time. I felt like I had a good sprint, but I know I can do better. I think I got four points on that one, but maybe there were a couple other guys that were way ahead that I didn't see, which means it was a sprint for third, and I got fourth.
That sprint was intense though; I thought I was going to puke. I mean it really took everything out of me. After that I couldn't get back on with the pack, and I got dropped. Big time. When you get dropped in this race, and you can't get back on, you have to join up with the next group (all 4 groups, A, B, C, and D are on the track at once; the slower groups have to yield when they get passed by the faster groups) I got totally dusted and had to wait for the C group to catch up with me, and then tack on with them.
I was totally spent though and I didn't have enough left as they went up the hills, and fell off the back of their group too. It was horrible. As I made my way alone around the course, Cake's "The Distance" was playing in my head. . . . The arena is empty except for one man, still driving and striving, and hugging the turns . . . My original B group passed me, and as I rolled in to the finish lines, the officials let me know that was the last lap. They didn't seem to care that I was a lap short, since it's a points race anyway, not a timed race.
I'm still waiting for the results to see if I did indeed get those four points for the ninth lap sprint. If I did, then I've accomplished something. If not, well, that's fine too. I got served a giant piping hot slice of humble pie--not the tastiest dish, but rather healthful. I'll post the results when I get them. In the meantime, here's this:
Friday, April 18