Saturday, April 2, 2011

A glimmer of form: Johnny Cake #1

This is the third year that I have done the Johnny Cake races. They are laps on a 6 mile circuit in a flat town not far from Albany NY. They run three races. I do the "B" race. I wish to do the "A" race but one must be a cat 3 or above and, as yet, I do not fit the criteria.

It's not the best kind of race for me, having almost no selectivity. No climbs, slow corners. Flat and windy. I usually just do my best to hang in there and just go for a pack finish.

When I first started doing these races, they seemed really fast. They don't anymore. Sometimes they even seem slow. This is a good sign I think.

Shovel and I lined up in the middle of the pack and after the neutral roll-out we gave a surge and slotted in near eachother. He's on a different team but as far as I was concerned, we were on the same team that day. I feel that I race better when I have people to watch out for (and to watch out for me). Shovel felt the same way. If I got shuffled to the back, I would look for him, and vice-versa.

The wind was fierce, and at times the pack would string out and get socked with a vicious crosswind. These were the only times when I felt myself approaching the redline, but thankfully they didn't last terribly long and I never got coupled off. Plenty of folks did, however, and by the last lap our field of 70 was down to 40 or so. Not what you might expect for a flat race.

As we got halfway through the final lap, I could sense the anxiety rising in the pack. People starting to get desperate to get to the front and taking chances that they hadn't before. I felt myself getting shuffled backward. Compensated a bit on the outside. Shuffled again, fought for a few wheels. Ended up maybe 2/3 into the pack. Not the best spot, but not completely out of the game. I don't give up. This is what I am learning. Never give up. Opportunities always seem to present themselves if you are calm and patient, yes, calm, even when hammering above threshold. Don't ask me to explain.

(a little voice inside me tells me to be careful.. something might happen)

bang. crash . left

bang .. crash .. right..in..front.of me....

(slow motion)

I sometimes have an innate ability to slow down time in stressful situations and I think it has saved me a number of times. This may have been another.

(I find an S-curving path through the carnage)

2 km to go and the leadout is beginning. must! catch! back! on!

(I do.)

I find, now, that the pack is down to 30 or so. I find my way up on the outside a bit and think "gee, I am almost in a good position for the sprint...."

(almost)

Then we hit the final corner. I ride right through the enormous patch of sand that nobody bothered to sweep and have to coast down a bit. So much for good position.

(but at least I am still upright)

I turn into the wind and give it a hard, but not maximal effort, surfing past a number of riders on the leeward side for 21st. Best Johnny Cake finish yet.

glimmers of form.

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