First the good ~
Bike racing this weekend was pretty hot on the local-yokel scene. For those who didn't swim down to yet another Fresburg trip and do the big-NRC-cashout Visalia races, there were the Sacramento Golden oldies up in the delta.
i love these races.
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Shame call itself out now as I can't really be too specific in tossing out reportage on the races. For example, I watched the juniors criterium at Landpark ... but can't tell you who placed. I'm kind of biased, anyway, because I usually just look for my favorite Disco Junior, Micah Herman and tell him to get his ass off the front.
But, what i can say is that junior riders seem to get faster each time i see them race.
Or for the women's Landpark crit ~ I can tell you that the Bellas were on the offensive the entire race, and riders like loraleen and some tall drink of water in a CRC jersey chased and chased and chased to bring it all together for a field sprint.
I can tell you it was some scandanavian delight who won the field sprint handily, but don't know her name.
I'm a bad reporter.
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And, i'm an a-hole.
It's no wonder guys think I'm on drugs. At Landpark I had my peacock feathers fluffed out and poking the other boys in the eyes. Plain and simple, i wanted to ride 110%. I wanted to suffer and suffer and then pour more suffering on that. The way home from work Friday nite I had seen a hawk carrying a field mouse in it's claws, paralleling me in its flight, proudly showing off the fresh rewards of a late afternoon hunt.
I knew Saturday would be a good day.
But then, on the pre-dawn drive to Zamora for Sunday's road race, a pale feathered owl turned awkwardly across my headlights and i felt a small constriction in the stomach. A foreboding feeling of a strange day to come flooded over me and i just had to shrug and bite down to accept and let it happen as it would.
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Zamora/Bariani is a road race held on exposed, slightly rolling hills northwest of Sacramento. Like any good Belgian affair, this is a race that should be determined by wind. Wind ... that field shattering force that acts as much of a factor in the outcome of races as can long, alpine climbs.
Because when you're guttered out in a long line of grimacing riders, pegged at 33mph, riding that sliver, just that sliver of open pavement left for you to survive on ... you're concentrating on more than just pedaling. Your mind has to be on the wheels in front of your wheels ... will that rider blow and open a gap? Will that rider crash and send us all into the fencing a few feet away? When the course turns south, how many riders will get shelled out as the speed goes to 40+mph in the tailwind. Will I be able to close it to that lead group?
But if there is no wind ... than it's just one long criterium.
And that's what this year's Baraini/Zamora road race was. And we Safeway boys only had 4 riders out of a 90+ rider field. But, we banged against it with everything we had. We attacked, we covered moves, we snuck and hammered and kept pushing against the chasers until finally, FINALLY in the last 9 miles a move went away with da'PAB (aka, Jeff 'the glitterboy' Poulsen) in it. It took us an entire race of never giving up, suffering like dogs to finally get a move away.
Because that's how we ride.
The break was not making huge time. Sierra Nevada/Specialized missed it and I think Rozek about single-handedly kept the gap from going above 30 seconds. CalGiant Strawberries put in a big move up one of the rollers that finally snapped the DiscoGeezers into decision mode.
Disco had 10 riders in the race and 3 of the best sprinters in Laberge, Angermann, and Carpenter - but they had Hellman (their TT and climbing specialist) in the break of 8 up the road. When the gap was still only a handful of seconds, I saw Disco's Roemer give the "thumbs up/thumbs down?" question to his teammate Metcalf about whether they liked their chances in the break with Hellman against our BagBoy. They couldn't decide.
But, after the CalGiant assault up over the roller - the DiscoGeezers went into full chase and started to bring back the break. But, they weren't organized. Metcalf did the lion's share, but Roemer, Wiesel, and Anderson didn't gel tight around it and we were able to slot safely into 2nd or 3rd wheel too many times ... throwing off the efficiency of their chase, opening gaps for them to jump around.
As we approached the final KOM point, marking less than a mile to the finish, the Disco chase had brought the break back to a few seconds. It was agonizingly close. The break was tired and struggling up the last short hill. But luckily, the Disco chase died about halfway up the incline and the rest of the field swarmed around them, but stalled a bit as no one team took responsibility to chase hard over the final hundred meters of the climb ... if they had, the break would have been caught.
The slight reprieve after the riser, a short downhill breather, saw the break put in a hail-mary surge that pushed the gap to the field up a few seconds. There was a chance it would survive!
I could see Jeff up in the front, putting in a pull. Then, Morgan Stanley's Oliver dug hard as the final kilometer bit into veins.
In the pack, Disco's Angermann came storming up the right side with his teammate Laberge in tow. I tried to get on his wheel, but Mako's Derdenger had it tight and I had to slot back a couple more riders.
"Shit, this is going to be close."
I pulled out of the draft and rode up to Laberge. I pulled in close to him, just to distract him and mabye get in front of him, if he'd let me. He did. So, now it was Angermann chasing hard, a rider behind him, me, then Laberge.
A few seconds later, I slowly, ever so slowly let the gap open up to the rider in front of me. This was with about 7-800 meters left in the race.
Is it a ruthless tactic? Yes. Is it a shitty tactic? Yes. Would I be pissed if it was done to me? Yes.
I gapped off their sprinter in under a kilometer left of racing. And predictably, he went ballistic. He grabbed my jersey and did his best jersey yank and shove, in the end opening up another few feet of gap for him to cover instead of the bike length if he'd just have jumped around me to begin with.
Yeah, it's not a tactic I would normally use. But, flat out ... we'd suffered too hard for this race and I was playing a devil card. I'd have been pissed if it were done to me, too. (oh, wait ... it's done to me almost all the time in breaks ... hmm).
So anyway, he slots back up to his leadout and I switch over to the Sierra Nevada chase that takes over in the final couple hundred meters before the turn that shoots you down 350m to the finish. SN goes nutz in the chase and I tip my hats off to them for putting it all out on the table. The pack gets to the tailend of the break in the final meters, but Jeff has enough gap to hold it off for another Safeway win. Hardfought. I pulled out of the sprint at 300m to go because I'd been spoiler to the chase and those guys deserved whatever placings they could get for their efforts.
And so, a few minutes after the race, i'm rolling back to the parking lot and here comes Laberge riding up and he grabs my helmet and starts yanking my head back and forth. Now, I know sprinters and I'm already starting to laugh a bit about it with a "well, get it out of your system, Dean" ... but then he rips my head around to face him and yells, "you ever do that again and I will KILL you."
... i flipped.
I have no problem with a guy getting pissed at a tactic. I have no problem with a guy needing to blow some gas and even laying hands on me, if it's not going to endanger other riders.
I understand boy-juice.
But, you say that to me - and you've just crossed the line. So, I wanted it played out right then. And, I'm ashamed of it. I blew my top and wanted it all escalated and stupid. Luckily one of Dean's teammates jumped in and did his best to quell and then a course marshall came over and told us to scat and cool off. I turned and left and was immediately ashamed of blowing such a display of stupid boyjuice.
Ah well ... i did need some more motivation to train harder.
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Luckily, there was still racing to be had and I was able to hear how PROMAN's Tracy Ford won the field sprint in the women's 1/2/3 event. And i was able to watch a fantastic sprint finish for the sold-out women's 4 event, where a mirror'd TriFlow girl hung out a valiant last few pedalstrokes to win it, with a brave Bella Bunny nabbing an absolutely satisfying 4th.
And i even got to chat a bit with the world famous Panda, and hang around Aligato's minty-mobile, and relax in the sun with my girl and my best pal.
so, in the end, the owl only controlled the morning.
'cuz the afternoon belonged to the cute and furry creatures of play.
Blogs that suck time
Monday, March 19, 2007
First the good ~