Sunday, November 2, 2008

Barton Park: Race Report

I you read the prior two posts you know that my day started a little rough. But I was really cheered up for a few reasons:

Joel, the store manager was very willing to meet me at the bike shop so I could grab my bike. I was very appreciative.

Mike Rosenfeld, to whom I was selling some pedals, offered me one of a couple of bikes so that I could race. When I told him that they were too big, he said he was going to make some calls to see if he could find the right size.

Brian Spears was prepared to let me race his Salsa. He also offered encouragement by way of the following:
And hell, race the A’s! You’ll still beat people, I promise. Nut it up and don’t be intimidated. Even if you’re DFL, you’re at least out there.

Actually, I probably would have been willing to do the A's just to be out there today. Still, I would have been intimidated regardless of what Brian said. I don't think he know how slow I am compared to him and the other Master A's.

Lane at the shop text'd me and called to make sure that I was coming out too.

I really appreciated all of the help and encouragement. Once I got out there I was lucky enough not to have forgotten anything else. Due to all of the scrabbling to get out there, I only had a blueberry muffin on the drive in and then a gel about 15 minutes before the race.

Anyway...on with the race report.

44 guys out of the 160 Master C racers were called up today. Crazy that 44 different guys have managed to get a point by placing in the top 18 so far this year. Of course I have not managed to place that high so I am stuck back in the lottery. Because of a favorable lottery position I ended up being about 60 or more places back, which is pretty good considering that there were nearly a 100 guys behind me.

At the start whistle we were off--slowly. It just seemed to take for ever for the pack to get going. I tried to get an outside line so that I could be aggressive, but once things got to speed it was difficult and somewhat dangerous to get off the worn path into the loose gravel in order to pass. I still did it a couple of times, but it made me a little itchy to be out there for long.

Then, in the first slow muddy spot I made a stupid mistake. Actually, it was a total brain-fart. I meant to shift several gears easier, but instead I shifter about 4 gears harder. Duh. I guess I should ride that bike more. It is the only bike that I have with Campy shifters and I guess it hasn't become second nature yet. As a result of the mis-shift I actually had to dab and then shift to an easier gear. Everyone that I had passed plus several additional guys that started behind me went right on by. This totally torqued me off. "To have blown it so early..." was my negative thought that I had then, but I scrubbed it off and found a rider up ahead and concentrated on using him as a carrot to pull me back up the ranks.

I used this "carrot" method the entire race. It was usually pretty easy to see any where from 100 feet to a 100 yards ahead so this trick was effective. First it was some guy in a maroon and white jersey, then it was Jim Hinkley (Jim Medeiros' arch nemesis--missed out you there Medeiros) who I passed about 1/3 the way through the second lap.

Then it was some Organic Athlete rider that was the carrot, followed a Tireless Velo guy and then finally on the last lap it was Matt Eisiminger, who I used to work with at Circle P. There were a couple of guys between he and I and I don't remember if I passed them or not. I just put the blinders on and powered into a smaller cog and focused on bridging the gap. And slowly I started pulling Matt closer. In the asphalt parking lot in the actual Barton Park area of the course I thought I might be able to gain some more ground, but I actually lost a bit of ground initially. I stopped looking at him and just put my head down and pumped my legs. When I looked up he was closer and I just tried to carry some speed in to the short rocky, bumpy part that went through the bushes and trees. I did and I knew that for the first time I would be able to beat him in a race. He ended up only finishing about 10 seconds back of me, but that was enough. Matt was way cool about it, offering me encouragement as I passed him. I just had no energy to talk to offer any encouragement back. I hope he didn't think I was rude--I was just spent.

Running up the the finish line really hurt--I was trying not to get repassed by anyone. Once past the finish line I had to quickly find a clear spot to kneel down. I couldn't hardly keep myself up. My mouth was all frothy from the effort that last lap. It was a good feeling. Good to have felt like I did well, and good to be done.

This race hurt so much less than Astoria. I didn't have much back pain. The course was much smoother and still in good shape for our race. I understand that later races weren't so lucky. I also understand that there may have been a racer with a broken jaw, another one or two with broken collar bones, and a host of other with scrapes and even full body rashes from crashing. Gratefully, other than the one mis-shift issue, my race was pretty clean. Sure there were little errors here and there with a few bad lines, but nothing too horrible. I did wind up with a dirty/muddy chamois which made my crack a little raw, but that discomfort seems to have gone away at this point.

I forgot the camera again, but when I find some good pictures I will post them or link to them.

Oh and the Neuvation Carbon wheels--still solid. The Fangos did great as well. I know that Brian in particular thought I was a little nuts for running them, but the gamble paid off I suppose.

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