Crash 4's anyone? Seriously I enjoy the workout and intensity of road racing, I even enjoy some strategy. But man I have to say, I'm glad my goal is not to become a road racer with all the luck required to stay on your bike sometimes.
Sunday's race started fine. Marni slept in so I donned my race clothes and my bookbag and rode to the start. The morning was brisk but not cold and I felt just fine. I arrived and checked in quickly while talking to some friends. By the time I dumped my bookbag in a friend's car I had ditched the ear, arm and knee warmers. Wanting a better start than last week I headed to the line early. I was warmed up from my ride over but standing around for the start was definitely not ideal. It didn't really matter though and by the time our huge group went off I was more than ready to start racing. The first couple laps were uneventful other than being told at the start there was no yellow line rule and being told at the first turnaround that there was. Ummm make up your mind people. I took a flyer on the 2nd lap at the top of a climb but it was half hearted and the field brought me back pretty quick. I sat in a recovered quickly. I was feeling good and ready to try again when we had crash number 1 of the day. I don't know what happened but I was stopped behind it and had to chase hard to get back to the field. After chasing half the course (climb, descent, climb) I caught the bunch right at the start/finish turnaround. Since I was already sitting at the back I took the opportunity to get a few calories in and had half a bottle of Ensure Plus. I also had Gatorade in one water bottle this week which worked well.
I sat in the field and recovered from my chase and by the start penultimate lap I was feeling good. I began to move up and was able to do so relatively easily on the climbs. I was sitting near the front from that point on until the final descent on the final lap. It had been getting a bit crazy with our 90 person group passing two smaller breakaways from other classes and a huge group from another class. Someone decided to attack down the descent and the field ratcheted up to 50mph or so. Slingshotting back up the climb after the descent people began to move up and some on the outside of the double yellow. Our motorcycle pacer freaked out and started honking and pointing for them to get back and just generally raising the tension level in the peleton. That was all it took and a couple riders went down near the front of the bunch. This second crash was mayhem and splintered a lot of the field. I was gapped of the lead bunch and ahead of a bunch of other riders. Completely unmotivated I spun towards the line until I saw my friend Andy pulling hard behind me. I waited until he was close and gave his small group a 33mph pull to the finish line. The race was a bummer for him and his VC teammates but nonetheless a good workout for me. Total mileage for the race was 45 hilly miles at 24mph average. After we finished we rode back to the med tent to check on another VC rider who went down hard in the last crash. His helmet was toast and his bike took a beating but he was otherwise okay.
After making sure he was okay, I grabbed my stuff and headed for home still feeling great and wishing I got a chance to put a hard effort in up to the line. On the way home I passed a girl who was waving to me in a familiar helmet. It took me a second to realize it was Marni and I flipped around to meet her. She was out riding to find me on her new bike so we rode together home enjoying the beautiful weather. I'm jealous of her shiny new road bike, Harold the Phantom, and it's 10 speed ultegra STIs. My STI's have seen better days and I'm on the lookout for an affordable replacement pair. All and all another workout and road race in the books. I'm definitely looking forward to mountain bike racing season where at least if I crash it's my own fault.