Saturday, April 25, 2009
Race Report: Turtle Pond Cat 3 2009
CB had alot of riders chomping at the bit. Many of us are on good form, and we fielded several riders who could have won the race in a variety of ways. Kyle, Glowa and I have been sprinting well, sweeping up primes and field sprints in training races since early season; Spaits and Cary handle hills with ease, making them both fearsome breakaway riders, Ryan is an excellent and enthusiastic all arounder and Josh just scares the hell out of people with his toothless grill. But the Wild Card turned out to be Jackson Weber, who was riding with us as a "provisional" team member.
Our biggest worry was the Pedro's team. They are stacked. Cort Cramer and Chris Bailey have been riding strong, while their sprinters, Sabatini and Zysk, know how to get across a finish line quickly. They have all arounders too.
Since we felt outgunned, we rode defensively throughout the race. Textbook. We only went with calculated attacks, either with strong riders or with well represented teams. We chased nothing down and when we had a man up the road, we sucked the wheels of any bridgers to discourage the chase.
For the most part, Kyle sat in the back while Spaits and Ryan played at the front, going on breaks and keeping things under control. I stayed in the middle of the pack, ready to pounce if need be, but mostly waiting for the sprint. Our plan was to put men up the road early and consistantly, so that the rest of us could sit in. If a break stuck, we would have a man in it. If a bunch of teams gassed themselves chasing down our riders, that was OK too. We had designated Cary as a mid way break man and Jackson as our all arounder (mostly so that we could audition him).
Breaks went and came back. Spaits got in some, Ryan bridged to some. But they didn't really ride aggressively, they mostly just played off of whatever others were doing, which worked well since that allowed them to follow others and remain fresh so that they could go with the repeated attacks.
In the middle of the third lap with about 30 miles to go, Leo Desforges attacked, almost half heartedly. He got 15 seconds. Jackson either bridged or went with him. I was near the front, so I covered the bridgers and mostly shut down the chase by sitting in and not pulling through when waved through. But the break just hovered at between 15 and 30 seconds. I figured that it was coming back quickly.
There was a one man crash at the end of an easy corner. I was behind it, but it didn't hinder me. I was out of the saddle and around the guy like nothing had happened. There was a long winding descent. I worked my way back to the front so that I could stay there for the beginning of the upcoming short punchy climb.
At 40-45 mph, I puntured while in a turn. I lost all of my pressure inside of two seconds. I was next to the yellow line, so pulling off wasn't easy. Since I was riding a tubular, I wasn't worried about crashing, but I was worried about the entire peloton making it around me. I put my hand up and lightly grabbed the breaks with the other hand. Once everyone had passed I calmly, but efficiently pulled off, shifted and pedaled into small cog and dismounted. I had the wheel out and in the held in the air within 10 seconds of the last rider passing, but there was no wheel car. I kept waving the wheel to the New Hampshire wilderness. No Car. I removed my armwarmers, took a drink, had a Gu, no car.
As I was about to cash it in and put my wheel back on and start hoofing, the wheelman came and gave me a wheel.
I dug deep for about 15 minutes, riding myself senseless. I big ringed the short climb and took risks on the tight descent. I never even came across a shelled rider. I was in the wilderness. After that I sat up and rode at a pleasant toodling clip, ignoring people's encouraging words about how I could still catch them and how great I was riding. My race was over. Little did I know, Cary flatted 5 minutes ahead of me and was similarly trying to claw his way back to the field.
But CB was on fire. Jackson's and Leo's break grew to 5 men, the two from the same team. They never got a huge gap, but they held out for 30 miles and came screaming into the finish with barely 15 seconds on the field. Jackson won! Provisional teammate indeed!
That wasn't the end. The feild was charging hard right behind them. I saw lots of colors coming at me. At the last second, in a blaze of black and white insects and helicopters, Kyle Smith came out of his sheltered third wheel and took the field sprint for 6th.
When I think about it now, I am shocked that our break stayed up the road. There were definitely teams with the firepower to chase. And from what I heard, we weren't blocking all that hard, since we expected the break to get brought back at any time. Perhaps someone cares to comment on that?
While I had a crappy day, CB dominated. We had planned this out weeks ahead of time, checking in with each other to make sure that the plan would work, making alternate plans in cases of unexpecteds (like me flatting), testing each other in training, at Wells and at Battenkill.
When I upgraded to 3, I questioned if our 3 squad would have the cohesion and cooperation that we had in the 4's last year. There are no more questions.
In other CB fields: Gorgeous Gary Bavolar of the negative sideburns/greasy pedistache/mullet trifecta got third in a turbulent cat 4 field sprint and Natalia Gardiol was wearing a women's series leader jersey on the starting line of the women's race.