That race sucked...not the race or the racers, but me. The fourth edition of the Bare Bones Crit at the VA Beach Sportsplex occurred last night. I was actually feeling pretty good and was confident I could do something. I told my teammate, John, that I was going to try and keep myself back a little at the beginning of the race unless I saw a move that looked really promising.
Well not too far into the race Keith Johnson had made a move off the front followed my Art Marks. I decided to go to it for fun. It wasn't far away and it was a simple bridge to get my legs moving. I made the move and we were caught a lap later. I was happy.
Then a simple innocent move went off the front. To be honest I didn't give it much thought. It contained 3 riders, Chad Holm, a rider from Team Fitness Together and a rider from Hilton Cycling Club (that's the other Conte's Jerseys out there, right?). It seemed like a weak move just for the fact the they just rode off the front. There wasn't much of an attack, but the next thing I know they have a quarter of lap and they are moving fast. I got to the front of the pack, turned around and said "I'm going to catch this, let's go." I did not attack, I simply, and slowly picked up the pace. Only too riders went with me, Fat Frog's rider and I think it was Harlan Ward from Atlantic Velo. Within a lap we had caught them. I had done all the pulling until they were in very close reach and then the Fat Frogs racer finished closing the gap.
This is not what I wanted. The lap board still didn't have our laps-to-go yet. It was way early for me to be in a break. But I recovered and worked in. It actually worked well with 6 of us. Everyone took good pulls and kept it steady. Then more riders started to bridge up. The more we got the less fluid the break was. Some riders would get to the front and kill it, others wouldn't take a pull and one rider was all over the place and almost caused a couple of crashes. I was starting to get tired and my legs were not recovering between pulls.
After 2 or 3 laps in the break the lap board finally said 20 to go. By the time it reached 15 I was spent. And when it reached 13 I was off the back. I am pissed at myself for letting this happen. Part of it was probably mental, I should have been able to stay on. Part of it was bad luck. I had pulled into the wind, two riders came around me but the others didn't. So I had to work to try and get on the wheel of the two other riders. I couldn't do it at first, Chad had to come around me which was good because he had the pull just before mine. So when I finally got on someone's wheel I was spent and we still had to close the gaps. That is what did me in. I think that if the gaps had formed when I was drafting then I would have been okay. But I just didn't recover in enough time to get back together. On that lap another 3 riders joined the break and with fresh legs the pace went up and I went off the back.
I tried to sprint for a good place in the field, but that didn't happen. I did manage to piss someone off because they thought I was stealing their wheel. I say bullshit to that. I was riding the outside on no one's wheel taking all the wind. Granted I stayed behind a rider that I wanted to follow to the line with the hopes of him moving over to the left, then I had his wheel. Well that's what happened. A rider slowed in the middle of the pack and he moved to the left to avoid him, I grabbed his wheel. The rider that was riding his wheel had no where to go...not my problem, that's what happens when you are in the middle of the pack. I don't think I did anything wrong or unsafe. If someone else saw it and thought I was riding recklessly, let me know so I don't do it again. Well it didn't matter I only got 7th in the field sprint. 10 riders were up the road.
Oh well, its a training race and I got some good training. And its a good sign that I was pissed about the outcome. There was a time that I would have bragged about just being in the break for 10 laps and it would have been a successful race. Not anymore. My confidence is higher and I truly believe I have what it takes to win...it just hasn't happened yet.