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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My first race as a Spinner

I arrived late for the Tuesday Night World Championships at Donaldson Center. That answered the question for as to which ride I would do. The A group was tempting but they had already started down the road and a couple of my riding buddies egged me on to chase it down and leave the B group.

However, one of the reasons for going was to ride with my new team: the Greenville Spinners Bicycling Team. I hadn't gotten word which group they were going to join, but looking around at the jerseys it appeared that the majority of them were there in the B group.

Before I had a chance to introduce myself, we were off. I felt kind of odd as I rode by a couple of the Spinners guys and they didn't say anything. I'm kind of a shy person and normally wait to be spoken to before speaking. Then I came across Kirk, a friend from past rides who was also decked out as a Spinner. I immediately felt more comfortable.

I went to the front expecting a higher pace. Before I knew it, I was off the front. I was up around 20 mph and realized the group was behind me. I let off and moved over to wait for them to bring me in. No use killing myself this early!

Once back in the group I started looking for Spinners. I believe there were about 8 of us and we started to control the group. First one teammate would go off the front and other teams and unattached riders would start to bridge. The other teammates would control the break and before you knew it we would be back together again. Then another Spinner or two would go off the front... etc., etc. until the third lap.

The second lap was the fastest between the three, but strategy started to enter into the picture on lap three. Kirk and his brother Brian went off the front and the rest of team settled in to slow the pack. I think I made a mistake here by seeking to catch up with Kirk - Brian wasn't wearing a Spinners kit and I thought we needed to bring him back.

Randy, who I believe is the team captain, pulled up to me to let me know Brian was our man and that we didn't need to chase. I backed off at that point. Unfortunately, a rider went to catch him. Another rider went by. It was Web. I told Randy not to worry about Web because he certainly couldn't maintain that speed for a lap and a half.

I don't think he heard me because he rode up on Web's wheel to neutralize his move. This, of course, brought everyone else along and before we got well into the fourth lap, Brian was swallowed up. Now the mass was once again setting up for the final push.

Randy started to spread the word through the Spinners that we were going to do a lead out. This is where a team will form a line and each rider in the front sacrifices by giving everything to help the last rider get across the line to win. He said we should be set up for the attack by the new pavement.

Two thoughts crossed my mind... 1) where was the new pavement, and 2) who were we leading out? I finally decided if I stayed with Randy things would begin to develop and I would not make a fool of myself when the time came to do my part. So, as he began to move his way toward the front of the group, I did as well.

Once we reached the railroad tracks, Randy really picked up the pace. I stayed on his wheel assuming there where Spinners behind us ready to lead the chosen one to victory. As we crested the rise after the tracks that would lead us into the decent before the final climb, I sneaked a look behind me. There was a dark kit. Nothing else.

Okay, so we were in a breakaway of three riders. Randy moved over a bit and as I went by he said, "Pick it up a notch." So I tucked to avoid the wind and tried to pedal in nice smooth circles - giving about 70 percent effort. We were hitting about 25 mph before cresting the hill. On the way down we lost our form as I heard Randy speaking to the black kitted rider behind us.

Turns out it was a Hincapie rider and somehow it came up that it was her birthday. Randy told her we would give her the win if she would pull to the finish. She passed on that, but it put us in a lull as we waited for her decision.

Finally, Randy told her to hop on and we went. I figured at this point I had the green light to let it go. I put out of my mind anything happening behind me and started up the hill. I was climbing at about 26 mph. I was feeling really good.

Before I reached the fire station, I looked back. There was no one there. I don't know what happened to Randy and the Hincapie rider. They were probably there but I couldn't pick them out from among several riders of another group we had overtaken.

I slowed and started glancing back. Finally I saw the main group coming over the rise just as I passed the start/finish line. Wow. I was surprised.

Turns out the team worked in my favor. Randy had given me a great lead out and Kirk and the other guys were making the group mad as they disrupted the finishing pace. Randy got me the lead and the other guys helped me extend it.

Wow, that was fun! I enjoy riding, but riding with a team adds a whole new dimension of fun. It was good to get to know the guys just a little bit as we rode and it felt awesome to help bring a victory to the team. Really, when one wins it is as though we all won. I have to admit though, I am glad this time it was me :-)

Race line

Distance: 29 miles
Average speed: 22 mph
Average HR: 165 bpm (Tempo Zone)
High HR: 190 bpm (Max 196)
Finish: 1



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