Monday, 21 June 2010

Why, Tour of Washington County, What Else?

Time trials are as boring to recount in words as they are to watch on TV. More so, actually. The exciting part comes after, when your team mates tell you how their times were and you figure out what cards you have to play. Greg took second in the TT, Gus took 4th. Nate was not much after. That was all pimp, and put us with 2 guys in the top ten, and me and Nate just out of it. Nate and I were too far out to matter, so our roles as workers for the crit were solidified. Goal #1 was keep Gus on the podium, goal #2 was to keep Greg up as high as possible.

Since we're here, though, a word about my TT. My equipment was a little better this year than last (tt frame vs road bike with clip-ons to the good, my road race carbon wheel versus a disk last year to the bad - net was a little faster setup). With a grand total of 90 minutes on the bike and the wrenches out until the start line (position is now maybe somewhat close to right), I hoped for the best. My goal was 28:00 versus 30:00 last year. I thought this was attainable but ambitious. This year's course was shorter, the general consensus being that it was about 3 to 4 minutes faster. So I more or less achieved my goal. I was a bit higher up in the standings this year as a 3 than I was last year in the 4s, so that's good. I was also about 4 seconds away from being 5 or so spots higher (but still down a pantload to the dudes who mattered). Takeaway? I need far more practice and dedication to being better at TTs if I'm ever going to do well in this event or events like it.

So we knew our goals going into the crit, only as it turns out we didn't. Gus wasn't in third, he was in fourth, because time bonuses hadn't been figured in to the GC standings before the crit. In any case, we were going to do all that we could to keep Gus high up and help Greg get a good result in the crit and on GC. Between illness, work and life burdens, we were down to 5 in the crit, but we still had firepower.

A break went and we were happy to see it go, as that would mean the meatier time bonuses would get hoovered up (again, thinking that Gus had two seconds on Drew A, which wasn't the case). We pretty much played it according to script, with one caveat - we let the break get too much time. The scope of circumstances that we were prepared to consider was smallish, so we didn't have Michael Cohen on our radar screen. Neither did Coppi or NCVC. So we all let the break get too far. Props to Michael and Ronald Barry, they rode a screamer of a race.

Apart from letting the break get too far, I feel like we managed the race really well. Greg and Mike were pretty animated, I spent most of the time looking after Gus, and Nate was hanging tough. That course is an absolute pisser, what a blast. The big sweeper turn at the bottom dictates so much. Gus and I seemed to go through that thing tied together about a dozen times. When we got the good lines, I'd just let him use his momentum to hold position without pedaling, and then I'd be able to take us as far up to the front on the home stretch as we wanted to get. Awesome. When we didn't get as good a line, I'd jump in front and close the gap, and then sneak us up the left side before the last turn and gas it out of the turn. Most of those laps, I had to suck my thumb for a little while on the homestretch so I couldn't get much more done in terms of sliding us forward.

The real pants shitter moment came with six to go. The sweeper had been one of the good ones, so Gus was a wheel or two in front of me, and when we go through the last turn, I see him hit the deck. No free laps anymore, so it's me locking up the brakes and screaming "GUS, GET BACK ON!!!!!!!" Fortunately, I didn't launch any F bombs, because I think everyone in Washington County heard me scream what I did. We were at the very bottom of the home stretch when the field was setting up for turn 1. Yikes! We get going, and we're really putting the jets right on, but then through the turn the officials tell Gus "don't worry about it."

Having no idea what this meant, and not having been involved in the crash, I don't think I'm covered by any halos that they may be passing around, so I stay right on it, knowing that I'm hosed. Only, I'm catching the field. Holy freaking shit, I'm hammering across at least a 20 second gap to catch on to a fully live crit. Is this actually happening? Through the sweeper turn I actually hear a spectator say "holy shit that guy's GOIN'!" Two laps later and I can smell the BO on the back of the field, it's down to maybe a 4 second gap, and I get pulled. WTF? They tell me straight out that I'll be scored with the field, but I'm still bummed. I wanted to touch home plate on that one. Mostly, it was fantastic to see that if I'd had to reattach Gus to the back of that race, I definitely 100% absolutely could and would have done it.

The silver lining was that I could get some photos of Greg pulling his ultrapimp late getaway from the field, and got an awesome sequence of him coming through the last turn and up the home stretch. It will be up on the GamJams team site soon. He's a stud at moves like that.

In the end, the team wound up 5th (Gus), 11th (Greg - who got jumped in GC by the two guys in the break), 15th (Nate), 16th (me) and 23rd (Mike). In stages, we got a 2nd (Greg, TT), 4th (Gus, TT), 3rd (Greg, Crit) and 9th (Gus, RR). I feel pretty happy with how everything went.

Thanks to the host club, the volunteers, the officials and the host communities for an absolutely TOP SHELF event!

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