Friday, July 18

Working Man's Stage Race (3/3)

I spent a while crunching the numbers on how exactly I needed to go about the final stage of the Working Man's Stage Race, the points race. A points race is different in that it's not who finishes first who wins, but who gets the most points. It's complicated and I'm tired of explaining it. The quick version is that there are 50 laps, every 5 laps are worth points, and the 25th and 50th are worth double.

So we're out there, at Star Speedway, Epping New Hampshire. We toe up to the line, they blow the whistle or whatever to start, and we're off. There were a few exciting moments--Dan Donovan, the GC leader, crashed right in front of me, I swerved around him; he managed to pick himself up and finish the race though. Then there was some guy wearing a "Team Psycho" (an invite-only triathalon team) jersey, he was pushing and bumping Curt Comber (the guy I caught on the time trial) and telling me to fuck off when I said 'watch out'. What a dickhead. There was some conversation and come confusion with a few other riders after that, but everything got sorted out in the end. I didn't see him after the next lap--he got pulled from the race.

I've always considered myself a sprinter. But I just couldn't get in to position for any of the sprints. The track is only a quarter mile, 400 meters, so you need to be in the right position in the turn to hit the sprint. If you're on the inside of the turn, you're going to get boxed in. There is a huge rumble strip on the inside, too. If you go on the outside of the turn, you are in the wind, and have to go a bit further and harder to get the sprint. You get maybe 50 meters or less of true straight-away.

At any rate, I couldn't get much in the way of decent sprinting. I was starting to get worried about how things were going after one of the sprints, having only gotten third on one sprint so far. At some point I said "was that twenty-five?" and someone said "no, that was thirty." A couple more sprints went by and I couldn't get in to position for anything. I was starting to get a little desperate, and decided that we were going to have to do some Team Time Trial action in order to just stay on the front and eat up points so that no one else could get them.

I came real wide around the outside, shifted to my top gear (52x12, whatever) and started cranking. As I passed Keith, I said "jump on" and as I passed Steve I said "Let's Go!" I turned up the pace that of a hard time trial for about a lap and a half, and then looked back over my shoulder to see which one of them was ready to come around and pull.

But they weren't there at all--the entire pack was half a lap behind me, maybe 15 seconds behind. I was all alone. When I came around the track the next time, I heard the announcer over the PA--saying I could make it if I layed the hammer down. So I layed the hammer down, and took the 45th lap. Teammates on the sidelines were yelling "head down! don't look back! go go go!" so that's exactly what I did. I hammered out the last 1¼ mile and managed to stay away, no doubt due in part to my teammates being no help to the chasers.

With the 15 sprint points I picked up on laps 45 and 50, I got third place in the points race. My solo break with 13 laps left was a hell of a show though, and the announcers called me over for a interview over the PA which was awesome. I really can't even describe how awesome it felt to be the guy in the solo break, with everyone watching being like "damn, look at that guy!" and you know everyone is pulling for you--yelling and cheering and generally causing a scene. And at the same time you're wondering if you have what it takes to fend off the barbarian horde chasing you down.

The third place in the points race, along with the sixth in the road race and fifth in the time trial, got me third overall for the Working Man's Stage Race (category 5)! I got a medal. Awesome. This whole week has been awesome. And of course NorEast teammate Steve Bauermeister took the silver. Keith Limberg kicked ass too, holding good position in the pack and doing a lot of work for the team. Tim Metzger gave me a ride down to the races each day from Portsmouth, which was, for me, the determining factor. And the mechanics at Gus' International Bike Shop provided invaluable advice and service. Go to Gus'. Buy a bike at Gus'. They are awesome.

Post a Comment