Sunday, March 31, 2013

Where's The Podium? #17: Salisbury Road Race - 6*th

I am trying up up my fitness. With the work days and all that fills my weeks between the wars that I am slotted to wage come Saturday and/or Sunday, they call my kind the "weekend warrior." Each day can be a battle to do what I feel I need to do so that I can succeed and rise to each weekend's challenge. Yet, yesterday's road race war was not quite the type of race war I have been training for. As you read this please understand that my complaints here are not without reason. I felt unnecessarily unsafe in nearly every moment of the race and I will not sit idly by when a cheater tries to cheat me. I would have moved up if I could have, but this is the nature of these lower category races sometimes.

Despite my placing 6*th out of +/- 65 riders, yesterday's race was a poor road racing experience. The only "race" happened in the last kilometer. Before that, my brakes got more work than my legs.

Reason being, the tactical wariness and timidity of the category 4/5 race field. Two weeks ago I complained about the unnerving manner of the U-19 racer combined with the poor weather conditions. Yesterday's race had neither, but was the sketchiest race I have ever had to ride. On the first of four laps alone, there were 2 crashes. Because no one is willing to ride hard enough to make the peloton, nor least of all, themselves hurt a little to make the race an actual race, the riders were subject to suffer far worse consequences. I would be willing to wager nearly a quarter of the riders were affected by the 5-6 crashes yesterday. Disgusting.

But okay, Let me put some of this into context.

There is a center-line rule in place. That rule is there because the race organizers, despite the amazing work they do to make these events happen, could not get all of the roads closed to traffic. Thus, cars, trucks, horse-buggies, and anything else is allowed to drive through the course on the left side of the yellow line of the road while the races carry on. Simple. Understood by all. De jure. De facto... riders hate the yellow line rule for a number of reasons that I won't go into here, but they cheat it whenever they can and think the will win the race by doing so. It's next to impossible to move up when the peloton is tight and slow, but some can't seem to understand that the race will not be won cheating up a few places by going over the yellow line. 

I had one guy try do it to me after a turn (where the yellow line disappeared through the intersection) and when I wouldn't budge over into another rider or slam on my brakes so that he could slot himself in front of me. I pleaded with him "Yellow line dude. Come on..." as if to say, "why would you try that? I'm not letting you in. I hate you right now." He protested back at me with, "It disappeared through the turn!" Readers... this is an example of the morons that I had to wage war against yesterday. It took an oncoming horse-buggie for him to pull his brakes and go back to where he was behind me. Pathetic. Dangerous. Cheater. Waste of a race entry.

 One guy I called an explicative for cutting me at the beginning of the last lap so that he could be behind his teammate. As if that was going to make him win the race. As if that move was going to have him beat me. Nay, rider. Nay.

Yesterday, because no one wanted to ride at a decent pace on the front, because of the yellow line rule, and because these riders are novice, I and everyone else, was on my brakes way too many times. I was scared that one wrong move in the compact, stuck peloton would send my bike and me straight to the pavement. 

My friend's race was ruined on the last lap when some rider on a climb decided to swing and swerve his bike over and accidentally into my friend's rear derailleur. This move caused the following to happen:
  1. Broke the cable to my friend's rear derailleur - no more shifting for him - meaning he had to finish the race in that easier gear he was using to ride over the rolling hill where/when this event happened.
  2. Rider that hit rear derailleur hits pavement next.
  3. Rider hitting pavement hits other riders on the way down causing them to hit pavement too
  4. The race is over for many riders and the lucky survive.
My strategy for this race became clear to me on the first lap. If I am to stay safe and out of the path of falling riders, I have to either be at the front or on the yellow line so at least I can swerve outside and not into someone next to me should something happen. That strategy paid off and I was able to go into the final turn down and up the finishing hills with decent positioning, perfectly un-fatigued legs, and enough clarity in my mind to want to end this race as soon as possible. Taking 6th was not a great or terrible result for me with a lot considered. But don't get me wrong... I'm content enough* with my placing.

No matter how much I complain about the terrible racing that my friend and I were subjected to yesrerday, nothing will change until we cat-up for stronger fields where race tactics, stronger legs, fearless riders, and everything else changes. I've been through these races before. I just hope my bike and I make it out safe again.

Easter colors for you from my morning drive up to PA

I would like to say thank you again to the support I have and the race organizers that put on these events for us. I am by no means complaining about their hard work, sacrifices, and commitment to us all. They do a wonderful job and I cannot thank them enough.

The sun was a welcome friend during the warm-up ride, race war, and drive home. It was incredible how I could feel the intense cold when someone's shadow passed over the lyrca on my legs.

Thanks for reading.

*Originally, results posted said I took 5th. USA Cycling official results put me in 6th. I need to train harder and drop these races with better results.

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