There is perhaps no force in the world stronger than the negative strength of 75 riders lined up for a Tradezone B race. Despite some laughably sunny "advice" to the contrary received after the race, when you have three guys trying to make something happen pitted against 72 guys who are pretty sure that they don't want to see whatever those three guys are trying to engineer actually work, the force of the many is generally beyond that of the few.
Our team's plan for the race was pretty simple: sit in and let the race go at its own high pace for the first couple of laps, contribute to keeping a high pace on through the first lull, then send a break up the road shortly after midway, with a counter loaded in the barrel when (if) the first came back. Finally, when the inevitable happened and the race came back together for the final three laps, we'd try to set up a quality sprint effort. My goals were to play cop on the front for a little while, help drive the pace in the second quarter, try to get up the road and be there at the end to help someone with a better sprint than my own.
Last year I really sucked at warming up and staging. Now I'm pretty mint at warming up, but still suck at staging. One of the nice things about Tradezone is that you can go from anti-pole position at the start to sniffing the clear air about 71 people further forward in two laps flat. One of the bad things is that if I keep getting away with this crap, it will inevitably bite me in the ass when I really need it not to. Anyhow, sitting on the line, feeling my sweaty back turn to ice while they figured out the field size, I was feeling a bit skeptical of my own chances given the fairly tough workouts of the last week.
The early part of the race was as predicted, fast and disorganized. The pack's bike handling sucked, corners were appalling. I'd like to think I'm getting a little smarter and smoother about making my way to the front, and was able to do so with ease and little effort. Before I knew it, I was helping to keep the pace high and trying to make sure that we were on terms with anything that looked like leaving the gate. Route 1 did a really nice job in this part of the race, which we could not match. Eventually, I put down a big acceleration through turn 1 (which was even dicier than usual today, and thus I heoped slower for a pack relative to a not incompetent bike handler taking it at full gas) and was joined by a Route 1 guy. We punched it hard but were brought back just before the turn onto the back stretch. Not immediately but quite soon after, Route 1 countered. I don't really know how but I was able to bridge. The group got to 5 strong and I was actually thinking we might do it. Two guys from the same team with grey and red jerseys (team???) made it clear from the go that they weren't going to do squat, and an unattached guy in a black jacket who was riding really strong took disruptive, long pulls that felt like mini attacks rather than pulls. The Route 1 guy and I tried to keep things a bit smooth, and another bridge came up and rode well with us. Alas, the field was able to set the hook and reel us back in.
We sent two attacks out, the first of which was swarmed immediately and the second of which was allowed to dangle with no bridges or anything. No dice. Damn.
I stayed at the front to try and make lemonade since the race was clearly lemons at this point. Nothing really happened and the last few laps were slow enough that everyone got recovered enough to all be there for the last lap. A Route 1 guy made the "suicide" early move and broke the tape. For me, the race ended two turns out, when people just rode scary and I was too tired and haired out to do much of anything. On the finishing stretch, I put in a good roll to be at the back of the first group across, but no result.
Maybe riding these races "dumb" like I do is stupid, but I prefer to think not. It's a better workout when you ride like this, and it's a lot of fun. You also get to mix it up with a bunch of different dudes and hopefully show your team mates that you are able to help shape the race. I was REALLY happy with my efforts during the race, especially being in the significant break, and how hard I was able to roll the rest of the race. I'm on track, I just have to remember that the track ramps up sharply for the next couple of months.
Tale of the tape (I screwed up when I hit my interval button thing a little bit so this isn't 100% accurate): distance 28 miles, time 1:10, avg speed 24, avg power 252 (this seems low - I think I have several minutes after the race added into this), max power 1045, avg heartrate 152 (I keep telling you I've got a big block), total work 1071 kj. Max 30 minute power 297 (just shy of threshold).
See you next week.