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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"your ego, it just dripped on me"

The attacker's mindset ~

I love races that open up and allow launches. Landpark has always been one of my favorite crits because of just that. The new design with that sphincter puckering left followed by a nice sweeping right adds safety and a bit of bike-handling difficulty to the race ... making it one of the better courses in our region, me thinks.

A few years back and on the old course, i remember that heinous crash we had in the prosey's race ... it was just an open-throttle nascar loop that guys would crosseye themselves into the red on. It would bring out the bad decisions in boys who would end up falling all over themselves like NurseCratchit had cut the O2 tubes.

Oh man, it was ugly, that crash ... bikes flying everywhere and body parts left behind for the squirrels to fight over. But since the design change ... the course has held off the big pile-ups ~ even though we were witness to one of the oddest crashes i've seen in a while this last weekend.
- - -

We were cruisin' the p1/2 crit, swooshing down the finishing straight at middlin' speeds, when a guy clips out of his left pedal and looks to put his foot down on the ground like he was preparing to stop. So, his left leg is pointing out to the ground and his eyes are locked down on his bike ... maybe he got a flat, maybe his chain dropped ~ i really can't say because it all happened so quickly.

But, with his left lag dangling and his head down at his toptube, the guy just shoots out of the pack to his left, diving and hitting his brakes right for the pits. I mean, diving for the sidelines.

And ... of course ... at this same instant (because Murphy pedals a bike like nobody's bidness), there's a guy 10 riders back in the pack who is accelerating hard up the left, trying to launch his self into orbit in front of the crowds. This poor guy is accelerating hard and straight up t-bones the lefty-legged vunder-pedaler and they both go careening into the crowd just past the start/finish and pit.

oy frickin' veh.
- - -

Apparently, taking the worst of it was a couple folks in the crowd - a bike to the face and the overall damage a couple of big crit riders smashing into your body at high speeds will do.

You just hate seeing something like that. I mean, there was a bad decision made - the guy would have avoided the crash if he'd have just kept his line and slowly moved out to the left to deal with his mechanical, or his spasm, or whatever the hell made him unclip and dive to the left.

But, it's bike racing and ... shit like this just happens sometimes.

Nice if it didn't, though.
- - -

In the Geezer crit on Saturday ~ me n' D.Guikenator were off with maybe 3 or 4 laps remaining. We had been a four-up break, but the Sierra Nevada rider got gapped off a bit when an EMC rider decided he just wasn't interested in pulling with the break. Dennis and I had both taken big turns at the front to try and solidify the break. It was late in the race and a 'now-or-never' moment. They had rung a prime bell just as we formed the move ... the pack still breathing hard down our necks. I swallowed hard and took about a 3/4 lap pull at full speed because if we dinked around for the prime there was little chance the bigger prize of making the break stick would happen.

Dennis took the next pull and the EMC guy opened a gap that i had to jump around back to Dennis wheel. No problem, he wants recovery .... he can have it.

Dennis pulled hard the rest of the lap and I was getting ready to take another pull in our 4-man break, but was going to wait until after D got the prime. In my mind, he deserved it because he had thrown down hard to make the break stick. But, about 20 meters before the line, the EMC rider jumps hard for the prime. Whatever.

Of course, that blew the break a bit and the Sierra Nevada rider, unfortunately, lost contact as we stepped back on the gas. But, so did the EMC rider. He blew himself right out of the break with that prime pip. So, it was now just Dennie and I off the front.
- - -

Riding a break is such a pleasurable experience ~ it's a total immersion in the moment. What gear is that rider in? Is he faking fatigue? How will he take that corner? How will he try and win?


I love that every milli-second and every milli-ounce of effort matters and affects the outcome of the race. I love the pressures of a chasing pack hard at the heels, the hungry beast right behind us as we feint and parry and walk that tightrope of tactics, speed, and pain.
- - -

With 2 laps to go, Dennis and I were measuring each other up. The pulls were just a hair less and the thoughts were drifting towards where to slip the punch. But, as we entered the final lap, we could see that Disco was putting in the big chase, so we had to shelve the assassin's tricks and concentrate on getting to the line. It became a matter of making the break survive first, fight out the win second.

Up the false flat on the backside of the course, it was full guns for us. BigBadNolan was shredding legs for his sprinter and we were but little pieces of redmeat dangling in front of that big lion's hungry maw.

Diving through the tight left turn that signaled 800m to go and I let loose the ballasts, swooping through that thing like only the stupidly fearless can. Dennie touched his breaks ever so slightly, and the gap opened. He was all gentleman and gave me the 'ok, go Mike' ... and so, i went.

One breath taken through the final turn and then it was 700m to the line, teeth on the bar, all focus forward.


Satisfying.
-

21 comments:

Chico Cyclist said...

Sweet!!!!

Hooptie said...

I didn't realize it was a new course, the old course was scary cause it had no corners, just gutter to gutter sweepers. I have avoided this race for the last several years cause of the associated perils. Next year it’s on!

Brent Chapman said...

more pictures less words.
never mind.

trac said...

The Panda and I were standing 10 feet away from the spectator who got pummeled by a flying cyclist. BOOM! All the sudden we look over and this old man is laying flat on his back with a bike and cyclist sprawled out on top of him. The cyclist plucks himself up, grabs his bike and runs to the pit to get his free lap.

The old man was there with what must have been his family. A little 3-ish year old boy started crying. Oh man, that kid was so scared. This huge crowd gathered around the old man and a nurse-lady spectator who was nearby started asking him the typically questions: What is your name, who is the prez, all the bullshit.

"Call and ambulance!" Nurse lady called out.

The Panda told the crowd to get the hell out of the poor guy's face if they didn't belong there. Well she didn't say it just like that because she's nicer than me.

Anyway then I went back to my car but I did see am ambulance screaming up to the course a few minutes later.

Wow that was a novel!

Velo Bella said...

he ran to get his free lap?

are you kidding me?

captain sassy pants said...

I think I just got wood reading that...mmmmmmmm racing

Velojuice said...

artist in every sense of the word, niiiiice

nosajpalnud said...

Banks said your pull on the backside was like 90 rpms in the 12 at ~33-34 mph - that's puttin' the hurt down for sure.

banks said...

So that's what went down Saturday. I totally lacked clarity during those final laps. I'm thinking people react differently depending upon how much experience they've had with going past the red line. If you're not used to the feeling produced by crossing into that territory, events move at an incomprehensible clip. If you're used to the feeling, it's just another day at the office.

Dirtpickle said...

35+ and P/1/2 Land Park Crit. Solo off the front by OV = the best display of power and dominance I have seen in a long time.

I can just imagine OV registering for the race...

Olaf..I would like to register for the 35+ and P/1/2 race please.
Worker...Sure
Olaf..You don't mind if I solo off the front for both races do you. I would like to stretch out the legs a bit today.
Worker..Whaa?

banks said...

Now that's teamwork. Me and nosajpalud commented at about the same time. Yeah, OV's pull on the backside threw me into a world of hurt. Without reading his post, I'd never have clued into how those fukkin gaps kept forming.

McSassy said...

I always wonder what some guys are thinking when I'm in breaks with them.

I also wonder why they bother getting in the move if they are not there to win.

Whatever, If I can play off it I do.

Great report, glad I wasn't a victem of the OVexpress last weekend.

MS

McSassy said...

I am a victim of to many miles though, silly spelling issues.

MS

m said...

Dennis? Nice? Gentlemanly?

Ha, put a polo mallet in his hand and see how nice he is then!

Peanut said...

Great action shot! LOVE the VB socks! Congrats!!

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

VB: Not kidding. Old dude hits the ground, a crowd starts freaking out around him, screaming about blood in his eye, and Mr. Bike Racer hops up and runs to the officials to make sure he's not going to be penalized for anything (and by "anything" I mean missing the free lap -- seemed like the old dude didn't even register). Couldn't believe it.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

that EMC rider nathan parks says:

that is a very nice write up of the land park race. you are riding real strong. don't be too hard on that EMC rider, however. remember, i was up the road and by myself. your break contacted me with about half a lap to the prime.

at that point, we were still on time and the pack wasn't far behind. when it came time for it, i went for it. if you want to give a prime to someone, just say so.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

nate ~ you are a nice guy and one of the biggest engines out there.


but, maybe there's a reason you ain't winning races.

you chose the wrong tactic at LP.


i mean ~ don't get me wrong, i don't mind.

... makes it easier for us to win!

;)

Squeaky said...

I've been reading your blog and I'm so impressed - I love you, how is it that you decide who gets primes? I want to know desperately!! Seeking you out at the next race, you are my hero!

Dennis said...

Congrats on the victory, Michael... well written... I think I'll plagiarize for my blog...

as for the polo comment (by "m")... I resemble that remark. (It is a good thing I don't generally go out drinking before crits or it could get real ugly!)