« A chance || HOME || A poke »

May 6, 2007

You come in fifth in some, you lose some.

After last week's good finish, it didn't take long to find out whether it was a matter of luck or of talent.

The Baraboo road race was my first road race two years ago. I didn't stand a chance, but since then I'm persuaded my team to make a big deal out of this event, and both I and my teammates have done better each year.

Nominally Saturday's edition of Baraboo was my target race for the year, but I knew that even after tailoring my training toward it, Ed would be the stronger of the two of us and would have the best shot. That's what I expect the case will be all year, and I'm more than comfortable with. That's the nice thing about the 3's. Compared to the 4's, races are much more about team success than individual.

Coming down with a cold on Thursday didn't help.

Sure enough, I struggled as soon as we got over the first major climb. The climb had reduced the field of 32 to about 20. People started to attack. Once three were off, I told Ed, "Next person who goes, you go with him." He obeyed. Soon enough there were two discreet groups, Ed in the lead group, me in the chase. One by one, riders bridged from my group to his as some collegiate hotshots drilled it in a heavy crosswind. Finally the "chase" was a chase of one: me. I was dropped.

I spent the rest of the race in no-man's land, occasionally riding with others, getting dropped a few times, dropping others a few times.

For the last 10 miles I cooperated with a Brazen Dropout. I attacked on the final climb, 2 miles from the finish, but he covered it. I proceeded to suck his wheel, declining his invitation to let me pull. It was a meaningless maneuver -- we were battling for something-teenth place -- but I felt I needed the practice of actually coming across someone at the finish line. I sucked wheel, I sucked some more ... and then I sucked. He continued to ramp up the pace and I somehow lacked the legs to come around.

The good news is that Ed had both the legs and the experience to win the race. The day had a silver lining, and I found some solace in Seth's assessment that this was one of the hardest Cat 3 races he'd ever seen.

Afterward Ed tried to thrust $20 of his winnings into my hand. It's common for a winner to share his windfall with teammates who helped him win.

"What the hell's this?"

"Your share."

"Screw you. I didn't do anything for you."

"You were there."

"I was there for 20 minutes."

"Take it."

"No. You can't give me cash. You buy me lunch or get me a beer."

"Take it."

"No. This is like leaving $20 on your girlfriend's nightstand. You don't do that. You buy her flowers or chocolates. Would you give your wife $20?"

"Take it."

And in the end I took it, just to shut him up, but it sure was annoying. He'd better not make a habit of winning.

Photo taken: May 5, 2007