Straight from my stay in VT I flew to Louisville, KY on a Thursday, where Simon picked me up, we grabbed some Turkish coffee and lunch, kicked our legs up for a bit and discussed our game plan for the clinic that evening. The clinic went well, though I think I learned more from Simon than I was able to teach anybody else!
Friday began with a leisurely coffee morning, followed by some bicycle riding. Then JPow and I went to local Louisville radio station WHAS for a little interview and USGP promotion. This was followed up with the number presentation which was especially fun because each rider called up was paired with a little tyke from the local Louisville cycling club…though one of my guys was right about me same height.
The racing fun began on Saturday. We had received some rain on Thursday night and into Friday, adding some mud to the course. Worked out well because the course was dry-baby-dry on Thursday. I had a good start, sitting about 4th wheel, on the 2 Alisons and Katerina, but about 500m into the course, on the first slick section I went head over teacup. Luckily I had skilled riders behind me – Georgia was on my wheel, followed by Sue and both narrowly avoided squishing me. So I hopped back on, but my gears were way too bogged. Off and on again and at the back of the field. I clawed through some people and 200m later got tangled up in the barriers with someone. Back o’ pack again. But I fought through and with all the carrots in front of me, was able to work myself up to the front again. I was sure to take a break as I bridged to each person, sit on, take a breath, then begin the next suicide mission. In the end, I fought my way to 3rd, and earned SRAM’s Most Aggressive Rider to boot.
The theme of the weekend was bad starts and totally surrendering a front-row position. My Sunday start was real slow and I kept getting caught in little bobbles from everyone, myself included. I think I was trying to follow wheels too closely as is the method in road racing. So it is harder to recover if someone in front of you bobbles, because you run out of real estate to save it. The first lap seemed blistering fast and I was in no-man’s land trying to latch onto the 6-man train in front of me, and barely keeping inches on those behind me. Eventually I broke out of my funk, and the high-speed train in front starting losing passengers. Again, with the carrots I clawed my way back to the front of the bike race. Eventually I found myself with two blueberries – Georgia and Alison. It came down to strategy, but the course never gave enough power sections for them to really nail it to me in attacks. I was able to cover and recover, trying to stay second wheel and conserve. I had remembered Alison pointing her attack spot out from yesterday’s race. However, I also remembered how Ryan had outsprinted Jamey in the finishing straight. So I decided to risk it and see what sort of sprint I could muster. But then, in the heat of the moment, I got nervous, so tried to attack for the better line leading onto the pavement. It was somewhat of a peanut butter pit and there was clearly a superior line. But I bobbled and hit the fencing, nearly taking myself out. Somehow I held on, and also held onto a tiny gap, taking the sprint for 2nd.
My body weight in fajitas was for dinner.