Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 killington stage race

I've been meaning to post a report on Killington, but, well, whatever... I mean to do a lot of things.

The whole thing ended up a bit of a disappointment, and when I think too much about it I get all riled up and it takes me a while to calm I guess maybe I've just been trying not to think about it.

Anyway, Killington... Three days, three stages.

Since everyone that I was counting on going bailed on me, I offered myself up as a teammate to John Landino, the only other person whose name I recognized on the pre-reg list. He thought that idea was pretty cool, which makes him pretty cool, so I found myself "guest riding" for DeathRow Velo for the weekend. In the end, I didn't prove myself very useful as a teammate, but it was cool to have a compatriot in the field anyway.

Stage One. Four laps around an 18 mile circuit. (I wish some of the circuit races around here ran on 18-mile circuits.) A fun course. I didn't like the downhill finish much, but all-in-all a nice course.

I rode a decent race. I was active on the climb every lap but the first, trying to get into breaks and that sort of thing, but nothing came of much and I finished with the lead group of 50-60 riders, luckily dodging a spill within the last kilometer of that crazy downhill finish.

I considered going for some KOM points, but it didn't really work out. Looking back, I wish I'd tried a bit harder.

Stage Two. A brutal 11-mile time trial. All uphill, but not enough uphill to be called a hill-climb or anything. Just a long slog against false-flats and shortish climbs with no downhill recovery sections. And, as it turned out, fighting a fairly stiff wind.

Day two is where the race turned crappy. For me.

Audrey and I headed out early to the race hotel to find my TT start time. I wasn't listed. We went through the sheet three or four times. No 326. No Goatesauce.

Then I saw a little hand-written note on the GC sheet. "#326 disqualified." What?!

There was no one around the race hotel, so back in the car for a 15-mile drive to the start of the TT. I found an official, who pointed me to another official, who told me I'd have to wait for yet another official, who was out on her motorcycle. Finally, I'm told I was disqualified for removing my helmet during the race.

That's true. I did take off my helmet.

It was raining at the beginning of Saturday's race so I threw on a cycling cap under my helmet. But then the sun came out, dried up all the rain, leaving me with an uncomfortable wet cap sliding down over my eyes. I drifted to the back of the field, gave myself a cushion of a few bicycle lengths, then quickly took my helmet off, stuffed cap in pocket, and then replaced my helmet. Apparently that's enough to get you disqualified from a race.

According to the chief referee (to whom I have no kind feelings), what I should have done was gone back to the commissaire's car (I didn't know we were being followed by a commissaire), told them of my issue, and then they would have instructed me to stop aside the road, remove my cap, and then proceed. And I'll just zip right back up to the group like nothing. Yeah, right.

It took about a half hour, but I got back in the race. The kicker? I was relegated to the position of the last-placed finisher, 33 MINUTES DOWN! And I have to pay a $20 fine.

So stupid.

Oh well, so now I'm racing again, I have a start time, and I finish a respectable-but-personally-disappointing 11th, 1:12 off the pace of the winner, but 47 seconds off the pace of second place.

I had said if I didn't finish in the top 10 I'd be disappointed. I was aiming for top five. I needed to go 34 seconds faster for fifth place.

It was one of those races where I was never able to really get in the groove. There was only one section, for about two miles after the sky bridge, where I really felt on. The rest of the course I was just struggling to turn the pedals. It's too bad. I so wanted to do well in that TT.

Stage Three. A monster 61-mile loop with two big climbs and lots of broken tarmac. One sprint line. Three (I think) KOM lines.

Since I had nothing to lose, John suggested that I start the stage attacking from the gun. So I did.

About 1/2 mile in I rode off the front and was soon joined by a few others. Disorganization. Nothing came of it. Along Route 100 I tried to get away a couple more times. No dice. But then around mile 17 or so we caught a two-man break that had been away since the first climb. I launched a perfectly-timed attack and rode right away from the field. The problem was that no one came with me.

Whatever. I just kept at it. It's one of those things that you know is crazy. There's no way I'd be able to stay away. Still so much riding. A lot of climbing. A few folks pretty keen on picking up KOM points. But I went for it anyway. It felt good. And I was able to avoid all the potholes that I'd be blindly smashing into were I tucked in the pack.

I'd get time checks from the moto official. First, 20 seconds. Then 25. Up to 30.

So I kept it up. I held off a chase group of four or five motivated by the sprint line at about mile 23 or so. Max sprint points for me. A small victory. (I wish there'd been a prime to with them.)

When the sprinters caught me they didn't want to work to stay away, so I left them behind and soldiered on by myself. But when I hit the lower slopes of the climb, at mile 25 or 26, the field was bearing down on me heavily. I wasn't a half-mile into the climb before I was swallowed up. Another half-mile and I was off the back.

I figured my day was done, but some 10 miles later or so a group of about 20 came from behind with a well-organized chase. I jumped in, and by mile 47 or so we'd caught the leaders. I let them tow me to the finishing climb, and then just Sunday-strolled it to the finish, crossing the line in 48th place, nearly nine minutes behind the winner.

And that's it.

It's hard to say what could have been... I'd been in 11th place on GC after the TT without the relegation. And had I been in 11th place on GC, I would have sat in through the third stage. I wouldn't have burned my matches on the solo break. I wouldn't have been dropped on the first climb. But it's hard to know how I would have fared at the finish. That was a tough climb, and much steeper in places than what I usually do well on. A top 20 would have been great, but I doubt I'd been able to finish in the money. Just too tough a climb for this fat man.

But I'm still burning a little over that DQ.

A euro-style good luck charm, felted by Mrs. Goatesauce on the drive. (It's a dragonfly.)


Christine Frandsen said...

Sorry about the DQ. I'm loving those pictures of the little dude.

Kapokkid said...

so bummed I couldn't get up there. That DQ sounds like a super great time, I wouldn't have been angry at all. Not even a little bit.