This is a note from a guy on the Tri-DRS list.
He's a crazy guy. Regardless, he wrote this report to the list.
I thought it was awesome so I thought I'd share.
If you're not a cyclist, then you can move on if you want - this is a long one.
If you stand in the parking lot before the Thursday Night Crit, you'd be able to hear the sounds of wheels being slid into dropouts, manly chatter about the races to come, or the races that have been - the two-wheeled equivalent of the "fish story," and tunes.
Lots of tunes. You have a wide-open array of music. The angry guys trying to get their race faces on always have the loud stuff: AC/DC. Rammstein. Sonny and Cher. Well, maybe not that last one. Then you have the older guys - the Masters racers with full-time jobs, families, and such. They're more mellow: Yes, Pink Floyd (Shine on...), Psychedelic Furs. The music pre-race is as eclectic as the guys who ride.
Me? I was in a Ska-ish mood, so I put the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to work. Simmer Down!
During the warmups most people behaved really well. After the meeting last week, it was great to see most of the guys staying in the inside lane, leaving a full lane for traffic to come around. I say most, because the Bikyle Flyers team were slow-lapping in perfect echelon formation, 6-across, taking up the entire right-side of the road. I watched for 2 laps as they canoodled around, holding back car after car. After awhile I rolled up to the side of the group, and patted the end rider on the back to say, 'Hey!'
"Hey, friend. Were you here last week?" I asked.
"Yeah, yeah. The meeting?" He replied.
"Yeah. I know we're just warming up here, but you really need to stay to the right. We kind of agreed to the managers we'd do that much pre-race. Don't need to annoy anyone when we're being watched, you know?" I said, trying to be as positive and even as possible.
"Yeah. Right. I saw that guy behind me last lap." Bikyle guy thusly replied.
And that was it. He didn't say anything else. Nor did he move over. It was like the movie broke mid-scene.
I just rode there next to him waiting for the change in behavior, mood, even waiting for the dude to blink to prove his brain hadn't blue screened mid-conversation. Nothing. Nada. The Bikyle guys just rolled on in perfect echelon formation, up the road and taking up the entire right side.
This was really no surprise to me. There are 4-6 different teams at GV, and each has their own Modus Operundi. The Alliance Team is the Former Bean's Team. They keep to themselves, will attack from the gun, lap the field, beat you up, make you ask for more, then ask for your lunch money. They do this because they're the fastest guys on the block, and they can.
The Cadence Guys are a smaller team, but fast, smart, and constantly mark the Alliance moves. There's mutual respect between the teams - it's easy to see.
The K2 guys are the 'Old School' boys. They've been the same squad for 12+ years; the same guys working as teammates, through at least three
name (and uniform) changes. I love those guys. They talk mid-race, they rib one-another, and constantly try to bust Alliance's stones. These are the guys who you can count on for a post-race beer; they even used to bring a BBQ on nice days!
The Iron Hill Brewery guys are a new team. They used to be a club, but got so insanely competitive that they decided to become a race team instead. I don't know much about them, but they've got great team uniforms - nice blue/black combo, and they generally seem to be fast and always in the mix.
And then there are the Bikyle Flyers. If none of the above teams want you, you can always ride for Bikyle. Bikyle isn't so much a team, as they're a group of individuals dressed alike in orange, yellow, and blue kits. They look like Rabobank in reverse, and ride much the same way. I mean, they don't ride like Rabobank - more like in reverse. If there is a crash at any point during the race, you can pretty much bet there's an orange, yellow, and blue guy at the bottom. They never work together, they often argue mid-race, and have been known to attack each other for no apparent reason. They're kind of like the Acrobat Bugs from "A Bug's Life," but with better gearing. They're the only one's who take themselves seriously, because nobody else does.
We started off smoothly this week under the traditional threat of rain. Seriously - I haven't seen the sun on a Thursday for 7 weeks now. It's amazing. That kept the field small, but safe. Must have been 60 or so, and we took three laps to really warm up and get up to speed. There were 4 of us in the AeroBus this week; Ron (Lawn Dart), Tim (The Toolman), myself, and some dude on an Elite TT bike with an SRM. I asked him to check the radar from time to time while he was reading the SRM. He attempted to smile. I think.
Charlie Report: Charlie was a no-show this week, and I didn't see any of his buddies either. Considering the rain to the North they probably bailed on riding down to GV in the dampness, and stayed dry somewhere.
Good thing. The clouds seemed to be getting darker.
After a few initial attacks and surges, the field had really settled into a decent groove. We were ticking off laps in the 2:14-2:16 range, and I felt antsy. Jumpy. I shouldn't have. I had run a tough, hilly, long run the day before. My legs should have been toast, but no. I kept looking up the road, waiting for the pace to ease just a bit. When it would, I would stick my nose out, but then jump back in line. An internal discussion I'd missed was back, for the first time this year.
"Dude, what are you doing?"
"Gotta' move up. I need to get in a move."
"Move? What move? You haven't attacked since 2005."
"So? I wanna' go. I wanna' try."
"Because. I want to."
"Because it's a bike race, and I want to attack."
"Because something in my legs is saying I should go."
"But why is the rum gone?"
"Sorry. Seemed natural."
After two or three peeks up the long, long field (seemed shorter at the start...), I just couldn't move up. Once I'd made it halfway but then ran into the Bikyle Flyers, who were still lapping in perfect echelon formation, 6-across, taking up the entire right-side of the road.
Two laps later, I got my moment. The bunch spread out on the backstretch, and I snuck up the left side - out of the crosswind, and out of the aerobars. On one straight I managed to make it halfway...but then came into the wind as we turned through the 3rd and 4th corners. It got harder, but I was committed now. I had to get to the top-10 in line, get some recovery, and then get in the next move to go. It was a great plan. It looked fantastic on paper.
And the clouds got just a little darker.
In one lap, I'd made it up there. The nose of the bunch was single-file, and I slotted in around 8th. The Iron Hill guys were working together, and seemed to be setting a decent tempo. I'd worked harder than I thought I should have, so I just held my place for a bit, even though the adrenaline was really starting to open up: "Go. GO! Now! With the wind! Do it!" I knew that was wrong; a glimpse at the HR (169) told me that I needed to wait...
..but the Iron Hill guys had other ideas. The three at the front took off - BOOM. The next four in line nonchalantly dropped off, leaving the chase up to...me.
I looked back, and the entire field (save two) was on my wheel.
Heading for the hill. Into the wind.
B@stards. Time to go to work.
I put my head down, shifted up to the 14, and hit it. "One lap. One good lap." I knew I could take 2 minutes of pain. While I spun up the gear the gap to the break opened, then stabilized. For the entire backstretch they rotated really nicely, taking turns, but not gaining any ground. The problem was, neither was I. "Three against one. Three against one...gotta' close this down..." I struggled to myself.
As we entered turn three, I glanced over my inside shoulder - I had 'em all single file behind me. Cool. I gave it everything I had, but nearing turn one I knew that I couldn't make it - I just couldn't do anything more. As I came to this conclusion, so did the entire Alliance team. They blew by me on the left, easily going 5mph quicker. If I hadn't been wearing a skinsuit, they would have likely sucked my jersey over my head on the way by.
I pulled out of line, flicked my elbow, and started preparing for the hardest 20 seconds of any break attempt. You're wasted, you're spent. You're red-lined, and you can't feel your teeth. You're caught, and dead, but you can't quit. You see, while you're at the weakest moment of your day, the field is now in full-chase-mode, at top speed. You need to ride HARDER than you did in the break so that you can get back on the tail end, and hang on for some recovery. Sit up as soon as you're caught, and you'll be dead - the tail will whip past at 30 while you're going 20, and then you're OTB.
Off. The. Back.
What killed me was that while I was cross-eyed, purple, and feeling very Minnesota, someone on a TT bike (why aren't you in the AeroBus?) got right on my wheel and said, "Alright! You and me! Let's go!" I looked over and said, "To the back?" As the entire world roared past on both sides, I told him that telling a guy who'd just been blown to pieces to attack would definitely go in the race report, (so there you go).
I managed to get back on the tail, where Lawn Dart and Toolman were waiting for me. "Whoa! Hey! Look at the guy with no sleep making the move!" Ahh, I love the love! Respect at the back of the bus always feels nice, even if I didn't deserve it. For one lap? Nah. I needed to make it clear, or at least close the gap...but it was a nice change.
If you're wondering, my solo lap was a 2:17. However, instead of my usual draft-assisted HR of 140 or so, my average was 168, with a max of 175. Took three laps to fully recover...from just one burst. Ouch!
I figured we had about 15 laps to go now - if I could ride to the end without getting dropped, it would certainly be a good night. The field was back to being steady, so I was happy to ride wheels and watch the usual shambles from my usual spot.
And the clouds got just a little darker.
Around lap 20 we came up behind a Verizon van making its way back to base. Following the corporate center speed limit of 25 miles per hour, the little white van was just trundling along. I could tell we were going to catch it before the end of the straight, but it was nice to see that the bunch actually learned from the previous week, and laid back. The front of the field sat up, gave the van plenty of room, and made sure not to spook the driver.
Wait, no, I totally made that up.
By pure chance, at the front of the field were the Bikyle Flyers, who were still lapping in perfect echelon formation, 6-across, taking up the entire right-side of the road. I turned to Ron (who's been with the Flyers for 10+ years), and said, "Ron! Look! Your boys!" Lawn Dart replied in perfect deadpan; "Well, that's got to be a mistake. They'll f*$ck it up. Watch." Sure enough, on cue, the Bikyle Flyers ATTACKED THE VAN. They split left and right, and charged the thing like it was a sorority house with an open keg.
I swear to God the van seemed to jump sideways. As if it looked in the mirrors, saw this orange, yellow, and blue wave coming towards it, and could only assume that it was a Slurpee Tsunami, or something. Then it got even better. Half of the Bikyle Flyers started to MOTORPACE off the back of the van. A van that you might recall was moving slower than the field. When they realized this attack plan would only succeed in getting them dropped (but with a sweet draft), they just tried to pull hard right and jump back in the field. Needless to say, there was much waving and head-turning. Amongst the teammates. Again.
Lawn Dart shook his head. "Morons."
And then the clouds got really freaking dark. It had gotten so dark, the lights in the parking lots had come on. Cars going the other way were using their headlights. It was only a matter of time before we all got nailed, but there were less than 5 laps to go now. We rolled on. The field actually really slowed down in the darkness; I think because we were all wearing dark lenses, which made us, well, a tired, blind, stupid bunch, contemplating a potential field sprint in a downpour.
What's the rush? I looked at the guy next to me and said, "I say we keep riding. I don't think the heavy stuff is going to come down for quite awhile."
He looked at me and said, "Heavy stuff? I don't get it. It's not raining now." There he is. The only man in the universe to have not seen 'Caddyshack.' If you ever wanted to know, there you go.
With two laps to go we picked it back up. I just hung back; it was nearly impossible to see now. I felt like we were riding in a tunnel!
On the last lap, headed down the backstraight, we heard the rain. We couldn't see it, but there was just this awesome roar coming from the West...and as we entered the short chute between the third and fourth turns at full-tilt-Lambada, the rain enveloped the entire bunch. Now it was insane: We were entering the final turn, a downhill sweeper, in the dark, in the rain, winding it up for a sprint.
I just sat up and let 'em all go. Amazingly, everyone stayed upright. The rooster tails looked fantastic from where I rolled...and I crossed the line in 1:09:48. It was a fantastic feeling; the timing couldn't have been better. There was something about leaving it all out there, and being just completely spent as the skies let us have it. As the rain and wind lashed us throughout the cooldown lap, we were laughing like a bunch of kids who were finally allowed to go play in the rain. It was cold, and just felt soooooo good.
As I pulled up to the parking lot, one of the Cadence guys asked me, "So you're not going for one more?" as he splashed off into the darkness with a goofy, "Yahoo!" No, not me. I put Hermes on the roof, dove into the passenger seat, and just laughed as I literally splashed down.
When I managed to get changed and head for home, I hit the iPod. The first song to come on?
"I Wish it Would Rain Down." Phil Collins. Couldn't have said it better myself.