First Off - I was that guy who couldn't count today who sprinted for the finish one lap too early. As mitigating factors I offer the following:
1. I'd had to take a crap, badly, since we staged for the race
2. I had two team mates in the break
3. For the umpteenth time recently, the counter of one of my breaks turned out to be a deciding (this time, THE deciding) moment of the race
4. I'd spent the last hour attaching myself to anything that left the field, and after a long enough time those repetitive 15 second jumps start screwing with your mind.
We rolled to Walkersville essentially with three players - the Pony, Newport and myself. We had other guys in the race, but the one we know well has been struggling to get the last bit of form and said he'd be struggling. The other three, we didn't know too well at all.
Despite our lack of numbers, we went with an aggressive, perhaps arrogant plan: to hit and keep hitting until either we crumbled or they did. Newport opened our account after a predictable and half hearted first lap attack went out and came back. After he came back, the Pony countered and spent a bit galloping away I guess somewhere on the backside of lap two, which I countered immediately on the rise to begin lap three. I was up alone for about 10 minutes (my second hardest 10 minute interval ever, according to the Powertap), had two guys bridge up, and then was quickly caught on the shallow downhill going into the stairstep climbs.
The Pony apparently never thought twice and just hit it right there. It was a great place to go, as the pack was breathing heavily when I came back into it. Anyhow, he was able to get a little gap without giving it top horse (pony) power on the stair steps. I was able to claw my fingernails onto the top ten guys and managed to do a little bit of work to help get him away, and Newport instantly joined me to determine who got to go up the road and who didn't for a while.
At this point, I have to say, the race had been hard. The field was looking nothing like the amorphous blob that it usually is, but was strung out with lots of heavy breathing. I swear I heard somebody say "oh, F)(K, not again" when the Pony left the corral.
Two guys bridged up, and the now three man break was rolling. If the field was a men's room stall, Newport and I were attaching ourselves to everything that left said stall like pieces of toilet paper on the heels of shoes. NOTHING went without one of us on it. Eventually, the pressure was kind of boiling over and we discussed the need for him to bridge with the next big surge. Sure enough, here it came and there he went. It was a MONSTER effort to bridge and make what turned out to be the final selection.
For the remaining time, I played the toilet paper game for all it was worth. With just the three of us, our arrows had all been launched. With two guys in about a ten man break, I loved our chances, but in my mind the whole time I was thinking that if it came back together, our little forays would all of a sudden look very costly. So I kept my head down and stayed somewhere between second and third wheel the whole time.
On the second to last lap (in my head, the final lap), the pack, which unbeknownst to me was now a very small pack, started to pour on the gas and the gap was shrinking. Putting up my best bluff, I went from third wheel to first by drilling it on the first stair step, then soft pedalled the false flat hoping that the whole field wouldn't fly by. No one did. Repeat for the second stair step and now it's looking really fait accompli, only now I'm smoked. The good news is that now Chase 1 is 10 guys at most. The break is as big as the chase.
At some point in there our team mate Ray came by and said "hey, great work, man," to which I wanted to reply "well where in the Sam Hill have YOU been the last couple of laps," but to be honest he did a really nice job covering for me when I was at my most vulnerable.
On the "extra" lap, it was pretty much all over. There were BAR points and pride in the chase, but no upgrade points and really no energy. John Shea from Artemis gets a huge shout out for riding his balls off all day, trying to chase, but was the first to announce "this one's all done" on the last lap.
For the Cat 4 race haters out there, well, we broke the race not once but twice. If the break was ten guys and chase 1 was ten guys, 21st place was about 5 minutes back from chase 1. A lot of teams deserve a lot of credit for the way the race played out. I give NCVC the star of the day since I think we had the biggest influence on the outcome, but this was NOT your typical Cat 4 race.
Into the finish, I tried to pick up some points for the team BAR but I was roasted and toasted, so over the finish I coasted. Maybe high teens position. As soon as I crossed the line, the poop I'd been storing let me know that it was all about him, and he didn't really care if I was tired - it was either get to bathroom NOW or REALLY need to wash my shorts for tomorrow. I barely made it.
If you've gotten to this point, you deserve to know that not that long ago, I nearly bailed on the team. The Pony and I had put SO MUCH work into getting people together and doing right, and it just wasn't coming together. At all, not even a little bit. Seriously, I was out. Then we went to Jay's place place and things started clicking. It was plain to see that people were buying the concept. Then came Parrishes podium at Jeff Cup, and things really started flowing. Now, even though we didn't win today (4th and 5th instead), we made a huge noise both within the team and outside. You CAN get Cat 4's to work as a team, and that WILL change the way races work.
The numbers: avg speed 24, avg watts/kg 3.42, max watts 1056 (which came while I was covering a would be bridge - yikes), max 10 min 4.39 watts/kg (during my break). For raw number comparison, I weigh 75 kg, maybe a bit less.
On to Tyson's tomorrow.