A field of 97 on this course means if you are in the back, the front of the race is probably more than 30 seconds ahead of you.
Apparently everyone was worried about this and as I did my final warm-up lap I realized that arriving at the start line ten minutes early was not early enough. The friggin' WHOLE field was already there! Dammit..
So I started last. Again.
Not to worry. I can make up time on the hill, and I did. I immediately started working my way past riders on the climb and would continue to do this. Hopefully I could keep doing this for a few laps and get to the good part of the pack.
Hmm. These younger guys are taking some big risks and are riding VERY aggressively on the rest of the course. Not used to this in the Masters, I tended to let people chop in front of me in the corners so I wasn't gaining enough ground on the front. Not a good sign.
A few laps into it and a gap opens up a few riders in front of me. Crap. I go around and give it a big push to close the gap but I realize there is an invisible hill on the hill as well. Big headwind for the last third of the climb and this is the first time I am feeling it. Must. close. Gap. must... close.... gap. cannot. close gap.
So I guess I'm not going to catch back on. I silently curse the guy that opened the big gap but realize "that's bike racing" and resolved to go as hard as possible and try to stay in the race as long as I could.
We ended up in a pretty good sized group chasing for a while and maintained a good pace throughout, going past riders left and right (who had blown up on the hill). Some of them managed to latch on to us. Some just quit. I figured we could maintain our distance and maybe finish the race without getting lapped when, with about 8 to go, we were coming around the S/F line and catching some lapped riders in front of us the guy blew the whistle at everyone.
we all looked at eachother and said "Us???". We were all uniformly surprised that we would have gotten pulled when the pace car was still half a lap back and we were still racing well together. I figure the officials just decided it would be safer on this course to pull everyone who was out of contention. So be it.
The final casualty report? 97 started. 35 finished. wow.
They gave me 94th place. I complained that we were not even close to getting lapped and the official explained to me that they did not place anyone who got pulled, instead giving them a place in alphabetical order. So W was near the back. Yay.
Maybe tomorrow will be better.