by Buzz Wright
This is a fun course but with the slight climb every lap and my lack of training in anaerobic zones the past couple months I wasn't expecting much with these races. The plan was to stay near the front and surf the group as needed to conserve energy, and then work for Gary and/or Jimmy in the final laps to give them a good shot at a top 10 finish. For the first time in a race I took forever clipping into my pedals, which resulted in my being at the very back of the group before we'd even completed a lap. That was annoying. I got to work moving forward with the hopes of making it to the front without using too much extra energy, which was harder than normal because the course is short and narrow in some spots, sort of forcing the only "move up" area to be on the climb -- which is where I didn't want to spend extra energy.
I was able to move up here and there, 1 or 2 spots per lap, but with such a large field it took pretty much the entire race to get within 5 spots of the front. With a few laps to go I found Gary and told him to get on my wheel. On the bell lap I planned on burning a nice big match -- hopefully giving Gary a nice springboard to launch from. Unfortunately, a rider went down in the dumpster corner and I had to scrub a lot of speed to avoid joining him. That effectively ended our race so we just sat up and rolled to the finish. I was happy though that my legs weren't completely wasted.
Different race, basically the same plan. This time I was able to clip in correctly, which was nice. The pace was fast but I felt comfortable enough. At some point (about halfway through I think) Gary was starting to fade a bit and there was a gap from him to the main group. I moved up to fill the gap for him and politely encouraged him to continue the rotation of his pedals (read: I yelled at him). I spent a few laps surfing between the group and Gary, trying to tow him back up in contact with them. We made it a couple times but when the big surges came he fell back off and spent a lot of energy without a draft. I sat back up and waited for him, then tried my best to give him a consistent steady strong pace that would not shell him, but would be enough to drop the other riders that were on his wheel. It worked and we ended up alone together, 10 seconds or so behind the front group, and 10 seconds or so ahead of the guys behind us. I may have yelled at him a couple more times, or maybe a dozen -- which may or may not have been captured on video and posted to Facebook. I have no way of knowing because I don't know what a Facebook is.
With 2 laps to go I felt reasonably sure we wouldn't get caught by the guys behind us and I also felt that unless I dropped my power output by 50 watts I would puke all over Gary... so I peeled off and (politely encouraged) Gary to keep pushing hard to the finish. Fun race, didn't puke (thumbs up).
Buzz working for Gary (photo by Damion Alexander)