June 8, 2011
Laps: 12 of 16 (DNF)
Avg. Speed: 23.1
So Freaking Hot. Hotter than them. Not Planck hot. Or solar particulate ejection hot. But still, really, really hot: according to the @dcfireems twitter feed -- an alarming feed to follow if you ride a bike on the District's mean streets -- we were operating under a 110 degree heat index yesterday evening. Tarnation!
Despite the oppressive environmental conditions under which the race would be run, the field for the B Race reached its 50 rider capacity quickly. As usual, DVR fielded a large team, with solid representation also from ABRT, NCVC, WWVC, as well as a few other well established acronyms. As a result of an eleventh-hour rear derr. problem, however, one of our dependables was limited to two gears -- 53-15 and 39-15 -- and then of course there was the further problem that another one of our team members was me.
So, my engine felt anemic from the start. I chalked it up to the intensity of training over the four days prior in combination with the miserable heat. I figured I'd see if the legs were going to come to life later in the race, alive enough to have reason to contend for a top 10 spot. If not, rather than surf the pack for no purpose, I thought I might try some silly stuff off the front just for the fun of it and, if necessary, cash it in then. It's just a training race, and I was feeling rather open minded about my options.
Meanwhile, I ground along through the first few laps, popping out of the saddle here and there along the front to open the legs, drinking when I could manage. Unfortunately, on the downhill backside of only our second lap we had a crash. I didn't see the proximate cause. From my vantage, I heard shouting, saw a wave of bobbing and scattering helmets moving back through the pack, followed by the unpleasant crunch of bike and rider hitting asphalt at speed. One rider went down to the left, and I believe a panic crash may have ensued on the right as well. I followed a couple others off the road and into the grass around the mess, then hopped back into the street and safely reintegrated with the field. I was saddened to see on the next lap that our victim was a junior, I doubt more than 14, who lay doubled up and bravely clutching his knee to his chest in obvious pain while the medic attended to his injuries. I had noticed him earlier, swinging his bike from side to side as he mashed gears to keep pace with the group. As I said, I didn't see the accident, but from what I saw beforehand I harbor some doubts about whether he was quite ready to race the B just yet. Whatever, hopefully the poor kid heals up quickly.
OK, at any rate, the race ran along its course, painfully hot. A few went off the front, including a few DVR folks, but frankly I think there were fewer attacks then previously, in part perhaps because of the heat. Nonetheless, by lap 8 or 9 I was seeing lots of tired faces in the peloton, and I was pretty sure mine was among them. I decided it was time to throw something off the front to see if I could cause some destruction in the field and maybe advance the interests of a couple of my teammates in so doing. When Chas the Invincible asked if I wanted to work up to the front with him, that was all it took. We quickly shot up front on the backside, me following his lead, until we broke free and dove into the single real corner on the course alone.
This was the first opportunity I think I've had to hit that Greenbelt turn entirely unimpeded by the Others. Usually I am grabbing brake and trying to negotiate a safe line among the dozens of riders similarly negotiating, some with less precision than others. This was more pleasant and much more efficient. Chas thrust his knee out as if he was wrapped in leathers, counter-steared his bike way low, and despite not being entirely sure exactly how fast we could take it, I followed suit. We sailed through the corner at 25mph rather than 19mph, then shot up the front side with a couple chasers behind. Chas finished his pull, then I went all in and held that for as long as I could until I popped.
As I worked my way back, pretty much blown, I was pleased to see that we had inflicted some damage. I tooled around for another lap, just floating at the rear and trying to see how well I was going to recover. The answer was not very. So I waived goodbye and peeled off when I next reached the parking lot on lap 12. Disappointing in retrospect, I know. I only had another 3 laps to go at that point, and I have never purposefully abandoned before. On the other hand, it's a training race, I never got my grove on, and despite that I accomplished something I wanted to accomplish, so I watched the finish play out fairly contentedly while munching a tasty peanut butter smeared bagel.
The finish was hot. Hot like this. Not as hot as this (yeah, that one's a bone for my sole follower -- recognize!), but way hotter than this. Congrats to Matt for a well-deserved victory in a head-to-head sprint against the jersey holder to win on the bike throw at the line. Awesome to watch in person, and perhaps to have added something to it in my own little way. Hopefully one of the photogs lining the course caught it, because it was a matter of milimeters and made for a great picture, I'm sure.
|Matt beginning his sprint. Photo: Julie Elliott|
Oh, and by the way, for those counting at home, that's number 8 in the books, ladies and gentlemen.