Monday, May 23, 2011

( Tour de Syracuse )


noun /məˈral/ 
1. The confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person or group at a particular time

Mine was high. I had done a long build. I had tapered for a week and was looking at some really nice form going in to this weekend and subsequent weekend's A-race.

The Tour De Syracuse was not an A-race, but since it fell within the taper period, it would be a great warmup for Killington, since I would be just starting my peak. The crit is on day one. We had a pretty good turnout of riders in the Masters, but not excessively large, which is good considering how sketchy that course is.

I lined up in the last row, having taken a warm-up lap. Not the best place to start, but I was confident. I let the first quarter of the race play out as it was going to, and let my legs get used to the speed by tailgunning and figuring out which wheels to follow and which ones to avoid. There were a few of each.

I kept my eyes open for any moves that looked promising, but, as expected on this course, none really happened. It's just not all that easy to get away unless you have a tactical advantage, and no team seemed to be really working that. I watched for Pete and Dave mostly.

At no point did the race really hurt me, so I relaxed and waited for my opportunities to come. They did come. plenty of little holes would open up to be filled, and plenty of free rides to the front were given. Sometimes I would even turn them down, since it was a waste of energy to go to the front only to be shuffled for no reason. The time to be active wasn't yet here, but was rapidly approaching.

(At this point I began to realize that I must be on good form because I am doing a lot of nose breathing in this crit and others seem to be suffering quite a bit more. I make a note of this)

Well past the halfway point, and a lap after a prime, I take my first shot. We had strung out chasing someone down all the way to a point before the last corner when the field slowed an spread. Pete was in the front. Bam! I slowly accelerated around the outside and was at a pretty good delta-V by the time I passed the front. The next time I looked over my shoulder they were way back there, with my buddy doing a good job of blocking for me.

But nobody else went with me. Damn.

Fairly certain that a solo effort from me was going to fail with 8 to go, I slowed ever so slightly in the hopes that someone would bridge. No dice, but I still had plenty left in the tank when the pack sat on my wheel. A counter came right then (where were you when I went?) but was swallowed up before any gap was attained.

This was going to be a field sprint. You could smell it.

I resumed my mid-pack position and kept my eyes open. With one to go, there were a few Hail Marys and nobody was really concerned with them. Pete was right in the front so it was time for me to do my job. I hit it hard, came around the outside, tried to not pull a gap and let Pete jump on my wheel. Stringing out the field and hitting the climb as hard as I could, we nailed the hill at 8 w/kg, passing one of the Hail Marys near the top. First wheel, I bomb the descent hugging the curb, knowing Pete is on my wheel.

Perfect leadout.

We see the other two Hail Marys just ahead and he shouts "go go go!" I do. I use up my reserves until about 400m to go when Pete launches on the outside with maybe three in tow. The sprint is on.

I am still going as hard as I can, and there is no room on the inside to pass me with a huge curb there, but someone thought differently. I only saw him out of the corner of my eye, but he launched between me and the curb.

Not enough room. Not by a long shot. Only an insane person would do this.

He was big, and swerved right into my handlebars, snapping my front wheel sideways and sending me flying through the air, with limbs and bike parts going everywhere. The world goes black. The impact and tumbling starts, followed by a sickening sound and surprisingly painless feeling of being ridden over by numerous riders.

I open my eyes. I am laying in the road, halfway onto the curb. Two of the riders who rode over me are on the floor with me.

It takes a long time to get up. Nothing seems to be broken, but I am dazed, confused, and really banged up. Clothing shredded. bike is all messed up. Pain is starting to come.

And just the thought of "why".

Why would anyone do such a thing?

Pete got the leadout he needed to get on the podium with second place. Andy Ruiz was just a bit too fast for him at the line. I suspect that the one who caused the crash was also on the podium but I don't have proof, as I didn't see him closely.

Too busy being crashed out by him.

I asked the guys who rode over me...

"Did I make a mistake? Did I veer off line or do something stupid?"

"no, you were smooth and clean. That guy just swerved in to you."

But nobody could positively ID his kit color.



as low as it goes.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. Everything hurt. It took over an hour to clean and dress the wounds. My ankle was swollen, legs tightening up. Everything was starting to go stiff.

I skipped the TT in the morning but hoped beyond hope that I could survive the road race the next day, praying that I could salvage some form for Killington.

Legs were good for a while, even showing signs of that peak form during the first few climbs, but my heart wasn't in it. I was timid and unwilling to fight for position. On the wall I was near the back, and got gapped going in to the hard crosswind. I was not going to catch them. Race over.

Pete was having a bad day and I caught him at some point in the headwind section. We decided to finish the "race" but just treat it as a ride.

That worked for most of the day, but my injuries really kicked in in the last hour. A cramp-fest. The finishing climb I mustered all of 160 watts.

Limping back to the car, 60 watts.

Hard to even extract myself from the bike after that.

So now it's time to heal. It was supposed to be time to peak.

And all because someone decided that winning $20 was more important than anything.

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