Probably one of the coolest races I have done in my time (and believe you me. I've done my share of racing). The rolling enclosure feature was great, the course was fun (especially the dowhills) and the other 124 dudes in there, well, what can I say. For the day, I travelled down with Jose and Dan and met my teammate Wayland from Richmond. The plan for the group (even though we race under different colors) was to stay clear of any crashes and race hard. My personal goal was to work on positioning in the bunch, something I was planning on focusing big time.
As I age, I tend to get grumpy before a race, don't really know why, but it just happens. It's even part of my pre race routine along with the usual trip to the "green or blue house" depending on the color at each venue. So pinning my number, I'm complaining about how cold it is, about how the sore throat is getting worse, the economy, you name it. Dan gets me going for our warm up and things start to feel better, the legs are spot on, the lungs are working well and the bike feels good. Mood begins to shift from grumpy to a little less grumpy, which I take as a positive sign.
At the start line Jose is the one complanining about how cold it is. I'm thinking to myself that it's hot and pleasant, anything to keep the head occupied thinking about something else other than the weather. Off we go and I'm at the front of the pack, feeling good but as we rolled through the start finish, the left side of the road gets crowded all of the sudden and we are racing. I stay at or near the front for most of the first lap taking note of the group's movements. The usual kamikaze rider or three is present and as is customary near me. On the second lap my legs decide to take a break going up the long hill and I find myself in a spot of bother for a brief moment. I pulled the throttle back, letting my body catch a break and it did the trick, as I started to feel better right at the top, but found myself in what I thought was the middle of the pack, so I glance back and realized I was the tail. Move up time.
Throughout the race, I kept an eye on the boys and they all seem good. Wayland was looking good, moving around the pack and several times we checked with each other to see how each was feeling. I caught up with Rayman and Kyle and had a brief chat with each of them. On the final lap, I was expecting things to go nuts, at least the three kamikaze riders I had spotted were now gone and that was one (three!) less dangers everyone had to deal with. Up the hill one last time and things are looking good, I'm moving easily and with confidence towards the front, taking my time getting there and doing it as subtle as I could. We are approaching the last turn and I am remembering the advise given, "don't be at the front at the turn, it's way to far out from the finish", and right when I make my turn, a NCVC rider onboard a BH bike suddenly changes his line and it's on a direct collision course with my front wheel. Only a Robbie Mcewen-esque move saved me from tasting pavement. Instead of giving the guy an earful, I went on, now trying to make up for lost ground and to my surprise, the field spread out. Back on, I started to pick my way to the front and was sitting right in the middle, not where I wanted to be, but at least I wasn't at the back.
The elastic started to stretch one last time and I was expecting the road to open up a bit on the left side from the last 300meters on, but too many people just sat up in the middle of the road and even though I managed to zig zag my way through many of them, it wasn't enough to unleash a proper sprint. And there was no point risking a crash for 50th place (officially 28th!). Across the line and Jose was by my side with Dan a few bike lenghts ahead. Overall it was good, the legs felt good and I'll chalk the brief moment of panic on the second lap to the cold weather. Moving around the pack was accomplished and I felt comfortable doing it, not stressed.
Caught up with Wayland on our way back to the school and went over how the race went for each of us. It was actually cool having someone else with the same jersey, and it sure did help to draft behind him a few times. The week is looking gloomy on the weather side of things and but at least nextweekend is full of racing and the team's dinner throwing in there for good measure. Good times!