Sunday, June 28, 2009

poolesville road race

An interesting day (yesterday) at the races.

So I've liked doing MABRA races in the past, but this one had a strange vibe to it. I don't know, maybe it was the douchbags that were still in diapers when I started racing bicycles telling me when it was my turn to take a pull (which was lame and wrong, on so many counts). Or maybe it was the weird finish off the circuit, which didn't seem to make any sense. Or maybe it was the officials starting the race a solid six minutes early, catching everyone off guard, including some who weren't at the starting line. Or maybe it was the insane pace we kept on the tailwind section, the only section where we encountered oncoming traffic, and the snail's pace we kept on the hills, where real damage could have been levied. Or maybe it was the super narrow roads, which allowed _no_ movement back-to-front in the pack for at least the first two laps.

Well I don't know what it was, but it felt weird, and I felt weird afterward...

The course was run on a 10+ mile lap through pretty mild rolling hills. The major terrain element of interest was the one mile dirt road section--essentially a one-lane, water-flat dust ally, with two parallel tracks of pretty smooth dirt and gravel in between and on the shoulders.

I enjoyed the dirt section tremendously. Got me all kinds of excited for cross season. And it would have been nice to be in the front at least once through the dirt. I would have liked to push the pace, which seemed way too slow each of our five times through.

But where I most wanted to push the pace was on the incline just after the dirt section, on the last lap, about five miles from the finish. After the first lap I decided that's where I wanted to make a move. But before I had a chance I got caught behind a touch up on the dirt section which felled a handful of riders and, having to brake, then circumvent the bicycles and bodies splayed about, by the time I closed the gap we had reached the road, and the effort had left me winded. So I waited. And waited. And waited too long.

Way too long. Of course, not really having any idea where the finish line was didn't help. I was looking for a 1K to go sign...then for a 200m sign...I saw neither. By the time the sprint began in earnest I was too far out of position. I finished 12th.

The finish line business really made no sense. I simply can't understand why the finish wasn't somewhere on the circuit, like it is in every race everyone has ever done on a circuit like that. I'm sure the rationale had to do with keeping finished riders off the course or something to that effect, but I still think it silly. One strike. And if there were 1K and 200m to go signs, they had to have been practically invisible, because I was looking for them. Two strikes.

But as much as I'd like to blame my poor finish on the promoter (that's the bike racers' style, right? blame your disappointing finish on someone or something else...never the rider's fault...not ever), I know where I gave up. Or, I think, more accurately, chickened out.

So here I'm reminded of this (start at about 8:30 in, for about 30 seconds):

It's not so much that I gave up physically, but it's lacking that special little crazy something that allows some people the mental capacity, the fearless-thoughlessness for this:

I mean, it looks all pretty from a bird's eye view, but when you're in it, when you're going a bazillion miles an hour and you're afraid to blink for fear of some obstruction coming your way while your eyes are closed, and when the consequence for failure (and remember, we're all a bunch of douchbag amateurs here...a USCF Cat 3 sprint finish is every bit amateur hour) is yet another broken collarbone and strawberry mash for skin for days...well, I just don't have it in me. And there were only like 15 of us even contesting the sprint.

I'd like to think it has something to do with being older, wiser, having a family...but I know it's not that. It's that I've never had it. I'm just not that guy.

But not for not wanting to be.


Back to Poolesville... Seventy-five started. Only 24 finished. Probably about 10 crashed out. Another handful flatted. What happened to everyone else? When we were in the final few miles and I looked around and counted only 20 riders I was dumbfounded. What happened to everybody?



Oh yeah, I raced the wheels I built earlier this week. Thirty-two spoke, three-cross numbers on one dura-ace and one ultegra hub. The rims some discontinued Mavic box section numbers in a snazzy red anodized finish. The first set of wheels I've built or, for that matter, had success truing. They held up wonderfully. I'm bursting.


vfg said...

Ahh, I forgot to ask how the wheels felt.

Man craft!
So proud ;)

Greg said...

there were 200m signs, just after the orange cones that come about 300m from the finish, and 1K signs just before the feedzone.

The finish line has historically been in front of the high school, and that tradition has been preserved despite some changes in the course a number of years ago. Plus, it's an easier place for officials to set up and still allow enough room after the line for riders to safely roll through.

goat said...

Greg, note that this was written in response to the 2009 Poolesville. And if there were signs, I didn't see them.

I mean, clearly my fault for not having scouted the finish, but I rode past the feedzone (how many laps?) and didn't see the signs.

But whatever... That was all last year and stuff.

Greg said...

my bad, i was googling for pics from 2010, stumbled upon your old post and didnt notice it was last year's.

Can't speak to the signs locations last year. My bad.

goat said...

That's cool. No worries.