by Buzz Wright
Without teammates my general plan was to stay in the pack and save energy for the finish, with the hope of getting the last two upgrade points I need to move up to the 3's. Lynn and Evan from Tolero were also in this race and we chatted a bit pre-race about working together to get some good results for Tucson. I remembered two things from this race last year: the course is long-ish and the finishing sprint is short. You really need to be in the top 5 prior to the final corner if you want to podium.
Number pinning assistance from the steering wheel
The race was pretty tame to start but after a couple laps some attacks starting going, prompting chases. I surfed the group a bit and moved around to try to find the better sides to be on for the various corners. The course was fun and the pace was high with not a lot of surging, which was awesome. With two laps to go, Lynn went to the front and put in a nice hard pull while Evan and I sat in around 5-10 wheels back. Lynn's effort was great, stretching the group out single file and ensuring that Evan and I would be in good positions for the final lap.
On the bell lap Lynn pulled off and unfortunately nobody took over for him at the front, so as we entered the first of the final 4 corners the group bunched up and Evan and I were slightly swarmed. I knew that I needed to essentially put in 4 mini sprints and when a handful of guys passed me during that swarm I lost some motivation to really put everything I had into the finish. My mini sprints were 638w for 7 seconds, 447w for 3 seconds, 505w for 8 seconds, and then 706w for 7 seconds. I'm still lacking a lot of the jump that I used to have and my sprint is really flat/dull right now. Aerobic endurance comes back pretty quick but the top end takes a little longer.
Evan snagged 8th and I took 13th. Fun race, I really look forward to this one next year.
Evan had to head back to Tucson for his sister's gender reveal party. I sort of ruined the surprise for him by telling him that his sister, by definition, is female -- but he said he would pretend he still didn't know in order to not ruin the surprise for (her). Lynn sat out since he and Evan had decided to destroy their legs in the Masters 30+ race that started 5 minutes after the 4/5 race ended. I totally would have joined them in that ridiculousness except that at 23*, I'm not allowed to race with those old guys.
* What? There's no need for an asterisk there.
My legs weren't feeling great and my motivation wasn't very high for the 3/4 race since I was alone in it. But Lynn stuck around and cheered me on from the sidelines, which kept me from sitting up more than a couple times. The pace was faster in the 3/4 race but it was also much smoother, which was great because my legs were toast. Jetset had like 8 guys in the race and so they did the best they could to control the race, sending one of their guys off the front, trying to block a bit, then following moves as other guys bridged up. It never seemed like they really had control though and with a few laps to go I was surprised they weren't dictating how the race would finish.
I stayed near the front, knowing what I needed to do to finish well but lacking the strength to do it. The accelerations out of the corners caused small gaps that I had a lot of difficulty closing. The bell lap really hurt good, my legs were just screaming. I wasn't in a great position since I'd let so many gaps open up but I put in my mini sprints as best I could. On the final corner Ruben and another rider went down pretty hard when Ruben's wheel skipped on a bump and he lost his chain. I slowed momentarily and half-heatedly finished my sprint to the finish, getting 15th. I went back to check on Ruben -- he was fine, just a few scrapes and in high spirits. He'll be back contesting sprints next weekend at Hungry Dog.
I stuck around for a bit to watch some of Jocelyn's race and then headed home. It was a fun day of racing with good friends, some beautiful weather, and that glorious burnt-leg smell driving home.