Monday, May 23, 2011

Lucky to Have My Nipples

It was the Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race this weekend.  For those of you not in the know, Enumclaw is in Western Washington where it apparently consistently drizzles rain all the time.  I'll get to why this is a bad thing in a bit.

The first stage was a 10K TT.  It was fast, flat, and it hurt.  There's really not much for me to talk about here.  Finished in 26th place about a minute and a half back.

Now for the exciting part of the story.  The crit is an 8 corner, figure 8 pattern course.  For some reason, Enumclaw thinks that the Men's 3 race should be the showcase event, so we were last up.  It had been raining intermittently for hours by then, it was getting cold and dark.  This would eventually spell disaster for me.  I'm not really sure how, but I had managed to not do a rainy crit in the entire collegiate season.  Having raced in dry weather for the past year means that I forgot how to corner on greasy pavement.  Some jerk caught me holding on to the barricade at the start, so I had to go off with a foot on the ground like everybody else and didn't get a very good position.  I spent a few laps working up to the front.  Once I got up there, I got in a move that I knew was doomed, but I sat on the back of it and got ready to counter it as we neared getting caught.  We were only a few corners from me gloriously escaping off the front of the race when I found myself riding my bike horizontally.  Lucky for me, Wheels in Focus was hanging in the corner capturing my fish-like motions for the world to see:
Step 1: Feet!
Step 2: Flop.  Note bonus points for the face!
Step 3: Wheelface!
Step 4: Seriously, Wheelface!
Step 5: You all really were hoping to see a picture of that dude running over my face, weren't you? 
How did I do that?
So I went to the pit and got back in the race.  I went back in at the back of the pack, so I spent a few more laps working my way back up.  Then I got to the front again.  Then I crashed again.  Amara wasn't around for that one.  So I went back to the pit and joked with the mechanics for a couple laps and jumped back in at the back of the field.  I worked back up to the front and slowly worked back to the back because of my lack of cornering confidence.  I finished in the pack and managed to not lose any time in the crit.

The road race was my big hope for the weekend.  If I could get in the move, I could easily gain back a minute and a half and potentially win.  I was told that a move had the best chance of going in the first lap on the climb, so I positioned myself to do just that.  I attacked as we crested the hill and everybody chased me.  Then I tried it again on the flats at the top.  Didn't work, so I sat in and waited for the hill to come again.  We got to the bottom of the hill and I started drilling it hoping to force a selection.  The race leader was on my wheel at the time and started shouting at me.  "Your wheel's not in the dropout!"  That was bad, so I stopped.  He was a cool guy and slowed the race down for me and I easily jumped back in, but my plan was ruined.  We went over the hill as a group, again.  A guy went off the front on the next lap and I didn't think anything of it because there were several large teams there that could easily bring him back.  That was apparently stupid of me to think.  We cruised easily around the course as he gained time through the flats, then we went really hard up the hill, then we went easy again.  The pattern reoccurred every lap until the finish, with nobody willing to do any work to bring the solo move in.  I tried bridging up, but they would chase me back then sit up again.  I don't know why.  He won by 4:15 and we had a big group sprint.  I wound up 14th on the day and on GC.  A little bit of a letdown, but it still gets me some upgrade points and more experience.

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