A confession from Blue Hill Pack Fill
That's what I was today wielersupporters. Unabashed pack fill, but happy to finally see the finish of a race in the main group.
But sometimes you need to be realistic. I came into today 0-for-3 in staying with the pack so far this season. And even worse, this race came after a week of no (yes that's no, as in 'zero') riding. After the apocalypse formerly-known-as-the-Quabbin-road-race last Saturday, I got, as we say in Boston, 'wicked sick'. Wasted. Fever, aches, night sweats, stomach bug... you name it. Compounded by a very busy week on the work front. Travel, research fieldwork. (Just man up and keep moving...you think the guys at the Battle of the Bulge could stop if they got a little sick?) So by Thursday night I was returning from a biz trip to Rochester, and could barely carry my backpack up the stairs at the airport. I was down and out for the count Friday, and I promised the vrouw that I wouldn't race Sunday.
So from sickbed to start line in 48 hours. A 40+ Masters race (some young guys in this one!) The first 2 laps were nervous, and the oncoming traffic on a small road on a 40mph downhill was getting more of my attention than the race up front was. I stayed well hidden and tried to avoid the squirrelly guys, it seemed there were many! After repeatedly drilling it at the front, about five or so guys escaped led by ex-Saturn Pro Mark McCormack. See ya Markie. That's the race. At one point somebody said they had two minutes.
|Zen, and the art of Wheelsucking. The Red guard was a one-man band today. This was my usual position...|
That should get an asterisk though. After all, the 42 mile Blue Hills road race isn't exactly what one would call 'selective'... a nice seven mile circuit around the Blue Hill reservation just outside Boston, with a winding, moderately uphill finish. Big ring all the way around. Sprinters race, fast. Still, I'm satisfied with being pack filler today - a concept that goes against the grain for me.
So yesterday I figured I'd go for an nice easy spin. Weight: 159. Hmmm? Guess I lost 7 lbs in a week, but not the way one would advise. Small ring to start. Funny thing was, I didn't feel that bad... gradually the tempo, and gears increased, and I was spanking a 53x19 along ~ 20mph. A one hour spin that turned into two and a half. As it wound down, I played with the idea: Maybe I should try to race tomorrow...hey, why not?
I came up with supporting logic for the vrouw. First, the cheap prick in me: I'd already paid/registered. And it's just up the road, won't kill the whole day. Fnally, what's the worst that could happen, if I get shelled, at least it will be some good training, right?
|I was flagging down Tommy, |
not raising my arm in a salute, honest!
After they went it was fast...but also easy. On the hill I tested myself. I felt better every lap, moving up every lap forcing myself to stay in the lowest gear possible. (Good strategy, I've been overdoing the power thing...) I promised myself I wouldn't do anything dumb, just relax and finish well. So I saved energy a thought about de spurt.
Last lap I thought I'd have a go at the field sprint. Moved up well, avoided most of the inevitable mayhem as is my specialty, and as we hit the final k I was poised to unleash a Beppe Saronni like fucilata of my own, like in the good old days. But I didn't have enough power for the final 200m, the legs were toast and I finished mid bunch somewhere, well in back of the 20 or so guys who contested that sprint for the minor placings.
No matter though. It was a fun race. I never thought I'd say it, but it was nice to finally be pack fill. After a week like this, I'll take it.
Learnings of the week? 1.) Cycling is all about how much you weigh, and 2.) a week off won't kill your form.
So jongens, just another story of another unsung weekend warrior in just another amateur race. Like thousands around the world on the beautiful May day, I'm sure.
Hope you all had a nice ride today too. How was yours?