Monday, 12 August 2013

The Mysterious Case of The Millersburg Blind Squirrel

Each year is different for me, probably more different than the year to year for other people. This year was a ton of mountain bike and road racing in the beginning, and then sort of a planned retrenchment at "I'm pretty burned out" o'clock, and then a planned waking back up in time for cross. For one reason or another, the slide out of racing in the spring happened a little earlier than planned. Reston is usually something I try to aim at but I didn't really make it much past Poolesville this year. No Clarendon, no Washington County, no Reston. I did a gran fondo instead of Reston. Tyson's snuck in there somewhere, I did that but I was bad there. My life had some stress in it and my head wasn't screwed on right and if your head isn't screwed on right, racing might be a pretty big mistake.

We co-promoted Lost River this year, and I was on the fence about whether to do it or not, but eventually I did. I missed the winning break but hung in on a really strong chase group and finished like 9th or 10th or somewhere, and that was okay for where I was. That race was BALLS hard. Then, with some prodding from the DS, I did Miller School. What a phenomenal course that was, and a hard race, too. Once again, missed the winning move (zero chance I could have hung with it anyhow), but then I thought I'd made a very select chase group in the last lap - we were out of sight, working well, and rolling. Out of nowhere we got caught by a small field just before the finish and I finished at the back of that action. Had to take the weekend off for Page Valley, but then "hey doing Millersburg would be a good move" says the DS. Okay.

I hadn't been in the aerobars since May of 2011, and TTs just aren't something that shows up on my radar so I just took out the old dork helmet, put the clip-ons on, and rolled it pretty hard but not 100%. Passed two guys and had three more right in range at the finish, so I thought right away I hadn't done terribly, and "not terribly" is just about how I did - 15th of 60. The fast guys had all started earlier, which makes sense since start order was reg order - if you're psyched up for a race you reg earlier.

Every race should have a pool at the venue. I spent the time after the TT and before the crit relaxing poolside and keeping core temps in check with frequent dips. It was awesome.

The crit was cool, good course, one sort of psycho turn that the first 6 guys through would have a great advantage in because of the short steep hill after. Boy, did I suck at getting that right for the first half of the race. The second half, I pulled my head out of my ass. Unfortunately, just as my head was coming out of my ass, three guys got a nice gap and yeah it wasn't hard to see that they'd be able to hold it. I played the last couple of laps better than par but less well than I wanted to and finished 13th. A couple of guys passed me just before the line and that would come back to haunt me. Since the Venn diagram of "TTs well" and "Strong in crits" shows small overlap, I nevertheless moved up a few spots in GC to 10th.

Chris Crane from ABRT and Grayson Church from DVR get special call outs here. I was originally scored DNF in the crit. Chris was put into my spot, and emailed the promoter of his own accord to say "nope, I wasn't there, you missed Dave." Since I'd missed the protest period (that's just a pain in the ass, seriously - I know it's part of the game), I figured I was hosed for that stage but spoke with the chief ref Sunday morning just to be sure I was eligible to start the road race. As that was happening Grayson (who I'd gone through the second to last corner with) passed by and asked what was up and told the ref that I'd been with him and stayed ahead of the swarm that enveloped him. Surprisingly, I was reinstated. It must have shown up easily when they reviewed the finish camera. Thanks, guys.

The road race, an 18 mile circuit which we would do thrice, had a really steep, hard hill. For good or for bad, the hill was like 16 miles from the finish, so it seemed unlikely to really come into effect. I thought it would be a field sprint, and the run in to the finish was particularly interesting: about 1k out you had a challenging right hand turn off of a really fast downhill, then more fastness, then a little zig zag, then a 90* right and about 150 meters to the finish. Lap 1 was general to figure it out, lap two was to practice, lap three was to execute. Normally, a finish like this I'd completely give it the olay since I prefer not dying in fiery crashes, but hey, meaningless GC positions were on the line so I turned off that half of my brain and got all lasered in. Last lap, hit the crazy turn in 10th which is just about precisely where I wanted to, and then passed a few guys through the turn. I actually didn't want to do that since I thought I'd hit the wind too early. Got back on the wheel I wanted to be on and pedaled as hard as I could, through the final turns, and then sprinted (as such) for all I was worth. One guy caught me at the line, so I was 10th. Since adding a "Does well in hard road races with sketchy finishes" circle to the earlier Venn diagram gives an even smaller overlap patch, I moved up again. Painfully close, as it turned out. I tied for 5th, but lost the tie break. If the dude doesn't pass me at the end of the road race, I tie for 4th and win the tie break. If the two dudes who passed me at the end of the crit don't pass me, I tie for third and win the tie-break. WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!?!

Fun weekend anyway. Mark Austin is a stone cold killer. Give that man an upgrade, please.