Location: Smethport, PA
Every year they hold this race (since 1890!) , the winner gets a gold pocketwatch and a nice cash payout as well. It's a "citizen's race" (yeah - right) , meaning the USCF is not involved. However, each lap of seven carries a 50$ prime and the overall winner gets $300 plus the watch.
Pros show up. 1s and 2s show up. Everyone shows up. It's a tough race. Lots of surges. Lots of attacks.
The first couple of laps were absolute purgatory for me, just holding wheels. I prayed that the pace would either slow or my endorphins would kick in (preferably both!) by lap three. Whether that happened or not, I don't really know. What I do know is that laps three, four and five seemed to go by in a daze. Maybe I am really going to hang in there!
Lap six was a different story. There was a break of three off the front who had gotten 90 seconds on us and apparently some of the real hammerheads in the front had decided it was time to put an end to it. This was done by a series of brutal surges having us doing 31mph into a flat headwind. (holy shit)
The break was swallowed up before we finished the lap. I felt like my legs had been placed gently into a meat grinder and slowly pureed.
But I was still in the race. Maybe half the field had been dropped at this point.
Sometimes I judge a race by how many times I feel like getting off the bike and walking back to the parking lot. I felt like that more times during this race than I usually do, even a few times after crossing the endorphin threshold. But once we got to the seventh and final lap, I felt a relieved happiness. I am going to make it!
There is a wooden bridge on this course. It has been there since they started running the race in 1890 and we still have to traverse it. It's bumpy. It's narrow. It has planks going the direction of travel. You can slip in to the crevice. I did once.
From that point on I only rode in the middle of the bridge, where the planks are perpendicular to our travel. It was, on every lap, the toughest section of the race. The guys in the front, having been instructed at the beginning of the race that this was a neutral section and attacks were not allowed, attacked
as it turned out, the 7th time was one time too many for me. I found myself near the back as we hit the bridge, and just didn't have enough sprint left in my legs to catch back on for one last time. I watched them go up the road.
Anyway, it was fast. They set a new record. Blah blah blah.
I lost two minutes in half a lap and still matched the previous record, blah blah. 31st place. yay.
I'm still not over this, obviously, but I rode again today and made my peace with God, sorta.
Maybe next year.