Paul and I lined up for Jeff Cup masters knowing that we were decidedly up against it. He's just off a silly but painful crash at Bunny Hop and, well, I'm really just not that good. But we'd try.
The field was smallish (50? - Mother's Day takes a toll on the masters crowd) but full of heat. Like massive heat. At first I was worried about Blenheim, but it turns out we went up it fast enough that it didn't even hurt. Maybe more accurately, it hurt a little but it was over really quickly. And that section personifies my argument for the compact crank - I used everything from 50x21 to 50x18 on it. I think I hit the 17 once or twice. Never a front shift required to go from sit and spin to stand and hammer.
What we didn't understand until later was that the race within the race was for BAR points. In hindsight, that explains a lot of what we saw out there. LOTS of negative racing, even if things were moving along mas rapido (avg speed, per Garmin, was 24, which is quick for a 60 mile road race that was pretty tactical and surge-y). We tried our asses off and I give us good marks for racing hard. Whole Foods raced really hard and the guy in the Mongoose bibs raced REALLY hard. The Bike Doctors also put in a good show and did well (their guy stayed away at the end, right?). I wasn't too hip on how another team raced.
At one point, Paul and I wound up off the front together. That wasn't an ideal tactic. A couple of guys bridged and we thought it was on, we were going like bats out of hell. Of course the team that didn't want what was going on to go on chased it down, and that was the closest I've come to getting dropped in a while. As I sifted back I was sort of doing the headcount to make sure I was ready to tag onto the back when all of a sudden I was off the back. Whoops.
I totally chundered the last bit and left Paul alone up front from way too far out, and totally spent myself making this mistake. I can kind of tell that I'm getting into shape because after a short bit I recovered and was able to hitch a ride with some guys who were contesting the field sprint.
Pack finish but not at all pack fill, on a day when the last guy with an "S.T." was probably well inside the top 20. Not nearly as cool as last year for me but I will take it. Also, if I'd just ticked the other box and raced as old as I could have, I think I would have gotten my pain on pretty well. Ah, c'est la guerre.
Tune in again next week to see what kind of bloody stump is left of me after the Poolesville 1-2-3!