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Sunday, March 28, 2004

What a difference a day makes

So yesterday I finished in the bunch in the race and was mad. Today, I finished in the bunch in a crit and felt great. What was the difference? Expectations, and a bit of work.

First, go back and read the report of Saturday's ride. It's okay, I'll wait...now, you can see that I really expected that I could dust off the pack with a bit of patience and better awareness of positioning on the last lap. Well, it didn't happen because compared to the serious sprinters (serious sprinters in a C race? Pull the other one...), I had no jump. I couldn't really blame my positioning, which was fairly good.

So today, I went out and figured, "I'm never, not in a month of Sundays, going to dust these guys in a sprint. All I can do is try another way to win, or at least make the race interesting, and get some good training in." What the heck, this is a training series, right?

So I told what I had in the way of teammates (mainly some dEVo kids already tired from their previous race) that I was going to jump early, and then maybe late. And I did.

At the 15-minute mark of a 45-minute crit, to the probable bemusement of every serious rider in the pack, I asked for and got a leadout from one of the very game dEVo kids. So sweet: He pulled me straight up the outside of the pack, parked himself on the front of the paceline so smoothly it wasn't funny, and as he pulled off, I accelerated with horrifying power. Snot all over my face (always happens when I work really hard). I got well clear of the pack, so much so that I actually disappeared from their view for a while. But they got back. in a few laps. First a breakaway rider caught me, and then very rapidly we were pulled back into the gooey maw of the peloton.

But it was glorious! The composure of the race changed after that: the pace picked up from an occasionally lazy roll, and people just worked a bit more. I sat in for about 15 minutes, then started looking for another move. And what do you know? With two laps to go, I pushed off the front again, without quite the same leadout, and only dragged one rider with me. But he didn't work, I didn't have the limitless power of my first break, and the pack was already thinking about the sprint anyways. Scratch breakaway number two.

To my credit, I never even came close to getting dropped (albeit on a very flat circuit with non-technical corners). I finished behind the sprinters, but made an effort on the finish line, even going so far as a bike-throw for the glory of 15th-or-so place.

Half the reason I broke away was to test the pack (after all, if I lapped them...), and half was to just avoid having to ride in the middle of the always-sketchy C riders. It's hard to get hurt on a breakaway. And another half was that hey, it's a training race, I'd already proved the sprinters would eat me for lunch, let's see if they could time trial against me. That adds up to three halves. Maybe that's why I didn't win.

Old family friend and avid cyclist Vic G. came out to see the race, which was great. He witnessed at least one of my aggressive attempts, and gave me a big old Italian hug. He was thrilled, and wants to start racing this year. Another old-timer in the pack complimented my first attempt as I pulled back in, and I thanked my game leadout rider after the race.

So, what's a guy to do? I hereby award myself the combativeness prize today. And club sponsors Sisu (they make Hydrade, official high-performance fluid of Team Wired Cola), with their nice tent and drink stand, even gave me a cool bottle, which I used in the race. Thanks, Sisu!

Meanwhile in the afternoon, The Lovely One and I, along with all our parents and my middle brother and his fiancee, ate dinner at Wild Rice, and dessert at La Casa Gelato [WARNING: link contains sound effects. Mute computer before use], which is always fun. The Lovely One had won martinis for 8, which sounded like enough excuse for all of us to have a dinner out. Barring an uncharacteristic blunder with my mom's order (came out vegetarian, not as ordered, then replacement was forgotten until we reminded them), it all was quite fun. But why oh why did they take the fig buns off the menu?!

Best new item may be the "small" Sweet & Sour ribs, which is a pretty substantial plate of side-cut (is that the right term for minute-steak thickness ribs?) ribs on very thin stringy french fries. Wild Rice has taken East-West fusion cuisine into some entertaining places. I had the venison thing, which was quite tasty, and very filling. It didn't send me into mysterious new culinary lands, but not every dish can. At some point most regularly-visited restaurants move from the delight of the new into the comfort of familiarity.

To do: finish shed, sell motorcycle, change spark plugs, straighten two derailleurs. Busy week.

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