|photo by Ernest!|
Having just witnessed a wonderful Wells Ave, animated by a lovable cast of characters, I was a little unsure of my decision to skip it and drive nearly two hours north to the University of New Hampshire for a one hour crit. My guilt was immediately bolstered the second I stepped out of the car into the sustained 20mph (read: 130MPH) winds. I was cold too.
8 of us, Dave (who had just raced wells), J.JO (who had just raced every collegiate race ever), Steve, Hopengarten, Andrew, AJ, Mark and myself, set out on a warm up ride. Very pro. We talked tactics, and decided it would be our best bet to get Andrew or AJ in the move, and leave me to clean up the field sprint, as is usually our plan for every race.
Smash cut to the start. It was undramatic, except for the almost comical headwind down the finishing straight, and matching tailwind down the back stretch. I maintained my position at the front of the field, ready to settle in and run tempo/ interference for whatever break we could find ourselves in, when, on lap three, Peter Bell initiated the first attack of the day. Before I really understood what was happening, I jumped clear after him with Alex Cox in tow. Peter took the first (of many) devastating pulls up the one and only "climb" and down the entire back stretch. I came around him at turn 3 and pulled through turn 4, into the hurricane tunnel of death that was the finishing stretch. I lasted as long as I could before I called Alex through. As we reached the back stretch alone for the second time, we were clear. (I know right??)
|photo by Ernest!|
... Except for Andrew Krulewitz, who was feverishly trying to bridge behind us. He made it, somehow, but was too gassed from the effort to recover. I was initially concerned that if had been able to make contact and stay in the break, that Metlife and CCB would chase us down... but in reality, no one takes us seriously enough to consider even two of us a legitimate threat.
And that was that. The three of us were away. Pete would drill 2-3 seconds into the field down the back stretch, and Alex and I would do our best to maintain momentum in the wind tunnel. It was hard work, but unlike the last time I was in a break with Pete at Charge Pond, I didn't feel like my legs were made of wood. I actually felt good. Great even.
When they called for the Ryan Kelly (of the internet) prime around lap 25, Pete took his pull, and mine down the finishing stretch, and I gladly let him. When he pulled off, I took the opportunity to change my position in the rotation, cutting Alex's pull short, and I took over smashing down the backstretch with the wind at my back, and let the other two slug it out on the other side. It was my one and only tactical move of the race, other than: pedal pedal pedal turn pedal pedal cry pedal.....
We started lapping big groups of dropped riders, and had our eyes on the field with around five to go. I had never been in a real, big boy break before... nor had I ever lapped the field. I felt like a god damn super hero. I started to ease off the gas slightly during my pulls. I wanted to have a three up sprint for glory more than anything else in the whole world. Pete must have heard me licking my lips, and attacked with 2 to go, bridging to the field. I waited till I was out of the wind and did the same. In retrospect, had he attacked a little earlier, I think I would have been done for... but as we had the field in sight, I was able to get across alone.
I chased into the bell lap, and finally made contact on the back stretch. Steve Hopengarten (also of the internet) was making his way out of the wrong end of the field when I stormed up on him and I started screaming like a crazy person "GO HOP. GO. MOVE ME UP." Without hesitation he stood and delivered. He pulled me up five or six wheels into the thick of the pack before the final corner. I dove in and emptied the tanks.
|photo: velocity results.|
I saw Pete about 10 wheels ahead of me, and eased off a little to respond to his sprint...
But it never came.
He started to raise his arms a bit before the line, and I... didn't. I looked back having crossed the line first to see a look of amused disbelief on Peters face. I almost felt like I had done something wrong by stealing it away from him.
The win feels amazing. Besides feeling like I have an enormous weight lifted off my chest, the way I raced my bicycle on Sunday made me intensely happy. I can probably say that I would have been just as satisfied rolling in second that day.
The fact that I did it in a break, and that I did it with my friend Pete made it even more special. It wasn't the prettiest finish... but I'll take it.
A more critical eye would mention that the three biggest teams were represented in the first attack of the day, and that it had more to do with them shutting the door on every countermove than us being the human locomotives I like to pretend we were.
Still. Big day.