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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Our first cold ride

The alarm didn't go off today (I won't take time to explain it, but it is true) and I had to jump out of bed and throw on my cycling clothes to get out the door on time. Believe me, there were more clothes than normal!

The night before I looked at the forecast and saw it was going to be 42 degrees. I put on my knee warmers, leg warmers, moisture wicking shirt, long sleeve jersey, wool socks, shoes, shoe covers, wind breaker, and topped off with a head pip under my helmet.

Once I got out on the road heading over the shop I was glad I did it! The wind was making it feel even colder. Everything seemed to be keeping me warm.

We rolled out with about 10 riders. The riders I was looking out for today were Art, Louis, and Peter. I figured Mike would be saving himself for Nature Trail. With all the smack talk coming from Art and Mike, I figured I had better give Oak Leaf and Nature Trail a shot.

To do that, I decided to lay off of some of the earlier sprints - especially the Paris Mountain one which comes right before the steepest climb of the day. Even so, we started out kind of fast. I think the reason was because we were all so cold! Art's thermometer on his computer read 35 degrees!

Then just as we neared the Reid School Road sprint, I found myself in the third position right behind Louis and Peter. They were rolling along talking and as they neared the sprint point they started jockeying for position. When I sensed that they had decided to ride along beside each other and then burst for the line, I decided to split them and catch them flat footed. It worked and I took the sprint on a surprise move.

I laid off on the Meece Bridge Road sprint. Peter had a pretty good gap on us and then Art went by me and I figured it would be good to let him wear himself out :-) Mike and I hooked up and rode across the line in about 6th and 7th.

A few more minor skirmishes and it was time for the quarry road. I debated what to do on this one, but then I saw Louis and Peter getting a gap on us. I figured I should at least get myself into position in case things fell out to my advantage.

By the time the three of us started up the climb, Art had joined us. He formed up to my left right behind Louis. I hooked on to Peter's wheel. Louis took off! Art stayed with him and Peter slowed. I had to make a choice. I decided to move over to get behind Art.

We were still going at a pretty good clip and then Louis sat up leaving Art and I alone. A little later Art slowed. No way was I going to just take off at this point by myself. That is what I always do and I get burned!

I shadowed Art. I figured if someone else came up we could reform the line and then fight it out near the finish. I just knew I didn't want to be the guy in front at that point! What I didn't count on was someone coming by us so fast that I couldn't counter quickly enough.

That is exactly what happened. Art and I were feinting with each other and Peter just came motoring by. I gave it a half-hearted attempt to follow, but I knew it was over. Time to conserve for later.

Next up - the Sandy Flat sprint. This is one I never do well at. It is similar to the Paris Mountain sprint because you come off of long lead up that includes a downhill just before it kicks up for a fifty yard dash for the finish.

Once again I found myself in a three man pace line with Louis and Peter. We were moving along at a steady pace near 30 mph as we neared the climb. Just as we began to climb, Peter moved over to allow Louis to take the lead. I knew what he was up to.

I stayed on Louis' wheel and let up just enough to conserve some energy. I knew Peter would be coming back through. Sure enough, in the last third of the sprint, Peter came by us passing me on the right and then moving around Louis' left. I was ready for him so I stood up and jumped on his wheel.

I don't think he expected me to do that or he thought he has a big enough gap. Either way, I was able to get up a head of steam and move around his left. It was too late in the run for him to counter. I took my first sprint on Sandy Flat. Cool.

Paris Mountain was out of the picture. Mike and I brought up the rear on that one. I knew Oak Leaf was right around the corner and I wanted to have some legs left for that one! It was still pretty cold at under 40 degrees up in that elevation.

Earlier Web was guessing I was saving myself for the Paris sprint. I told him that I was going to go for Oak Leaf. Then I noticed he opened a big gap on us between Paris and the turn up to Oak Leaf. "He's going to steal it away from me!" I went to bring him back. I figured it wouldn't hurt to get my own gap on Art anyway.

I pulled up beside Peter who was between Web and me and we talked a bit about Web's chances. Then we noticed Web didn't take the turn up to Oak Leaf. Hmmmmm. Peter and I made the turn. "I've just to beat Art," I told him. Art was a marked man!

Guess what? I had no sooner said that and I looked back to see Art right behind us. He was ready. The three of us rode on together. Just before the climb really increased a huge Ford truck came out of a side street and almost hit Peter. That threw us off for a bit but we regrouped and started our climbing sprint.

It turned out to be an awesome race for the line. Peter had a slight jump on Art and I had my front wheel about even with Art's rear one. All three of us stood up on the pedals and drove for the top.

Art pulled up nearly even with Peter and then I made it up to Art. About 10 feet out I gave it all I had and inched past Art and ended up losing to Peter by about two feet and Art finished at the same distance behind me. I can still see in my mind's eye looking over to my right and seeing the three bikes nearly neck and neck for a few seconds.

I only had a few minutes to get myself ready for Nature Trail. After Oak Leaf, this was going to be tough. The old ticker had climbed from 172 bpm to 184 bpm on that climb of less than half a mile. Thankfully, I recovered somewhat and rolled into Nature Trail with my heart down to 127 bpm.

Now, what to do? I knew Mike would be gunning for this one and he should be fresher than Art and me. Then there was Peter who didn't seem to need to be fresh - he was always fast. As we hit the climb, Peter went off with Mike on his wheel. I threw my lot with Art.

Art and I were just tuckered out. I watched Peter and Mike move into the distance as we just were hanging on. Okay, I'd just go for third and I didn't want Mike and Art think I didn't try.

I went around Art and continued climbing. I actually started feeling better as I got in a rhythm. Still, I was so far behind there was no way I was going to catch them. I rolled in third about twenty yards back. I believe it was Peter who took it with Mike just behind.

Someday I would like to contest all the sprints. Right now I just don't have the stamina to pull it off. Well, that is one reason to enjoy riding. There is always another challenge ahead. Even the challenge of cold! By the time we made it back to the shop, we were at a very comfortable 55 degrees.

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At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was robbed...


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