Even though the race ended almost two weeks ago, I just didn't have much time or energy to write about the last two days. But it went something like this:
Saturday's time trial was another logistical nightmare, with the organizers changing start times at will and without considering any of the riders' needs. Not that I was planning on smoking anyone, but it was a bit frustrating having to change plans every five minutes because nobody seemed to know what the hell was going on. Finally it was announced that the Masters A category would depart as soon as the last Masters B rider had completed the time trial. That gave me an extra hour to sit around and wait.
Time finally came to depart and since I had spotted a few others wearing their Ipods, I chose to do the same. Nothing like a little ZZ Top to get the legs going. Off I went and quickly settled into the uncomfortable time trial position and prepared myself for the next 30+ minutes of pure fun. The "pain" playlist on the Ipod was made specifically for this kinds of efforts and with the top Texas band rocking, followed by some AC/DC, Guns & Roses, Joan Jett, Ministry and a few others selections, it made the time go by quite fast. It also helped when the guy who started one minute behind blew by me. The only exciting thing was going down hill, tucked in on the aero bars and having two 18 wheelers pass me, creating a serious vortex that made for some fun few seconds.
Sunday's last stage had a bit more start time shannanigans from the organizers. I had noticed the team of the guy who had led the race for the first two stages, warming up quite early. That indicated one thing only, that the fight was going to go from the gun. As customary, the heat was oppressive when we started around 9:45am, but at least it meant we were going to be done before noon by all calculations and thus, avoid the serious blast from the sun and humidity.
Lined up and made small talk with a fellow rider, who wanted my contact info. Not soon had I started to give him my digits, the flag dropped and before I could clip in, the pack was single filed. It was an impressive display of firepower with the leader's team taking control of things, or at least, setting the pace so high that nobody could attack. At only 500 meters from the start, riders were popping and avoiding them was becoming quite hard since they were everywhere. Finally latched myself to the back of the pack and had thoughts of settling in for nice ride.
Those thoughts went quickly out the window when we hit the 180 turn at the bottom of a two step hill and the high pace never ceased. More riders were dropping and when I reached the top of the last step, there was a considerable gap between me and the pack, no man's land stuff. A glance back confirmed that the only two choices were, chase solo or wait for the second group that was forming behind. Decided to give chase, if anything, the chasers would catch me if my attempt failed. It did.
So I spent the next 42 miles in a group of 8, taking longer pulls to at least get a good workout out of the deal. The cool thing was because of the longer pulls, the other 7 asked me what we should do at the end. "we'll cross the line together, spread accross the road" I said...it made for a cool picture.
And that was that, my second participation at the Vuelta Masters a Chiriqui was fun, despite the craziness both on and off the road. The level this year was twice as high as last year's edition and when I got the results early Monday morning, I was happy with my 33er place overall. 65 riders started the Masters A class, with 48finishing. Now I think I will skip next year's edition and wait to move up to the B class. But things can change by July of 2011 and I can find myself pinning a number at this growing event.