Photo: Tony Allen-Mills

Photo: Tony Allen-Mills
The Charge: First Race, First Climb

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the Magnificent Greenbelt Seven, err, Baker's Dozen or So

Greenbelt Park Series Training Race
'B' Race (Cat 4/5)
June 22, 2011
Duration: 00:57:47
Distance: 22.423 miles
Avg Speed: 23.2 mph
Crashes: 1 (not me)
Place: 11/32

Another sweltering Wednesday evening in a small section of federally reserved parklands, another hour or so of circuit road bicycle racing fun on the books.  This iteration of the B Race began ominously for me with a dropped chain as the field moved into position to fill the space vacated by the 17 souls who constituted the spartan A field. Fortunately, I managed to wrap it back around the ring in time for the start, with no more lost than a little dignity.

For a change, perhaps because it was muggy and sticky and I think none of us were particularly interested in circling the parking lot, my teammates and I staged fairly well this time.  Staging may be less important at Greenbelt than at any race in the whole of the United States.  All the same, it was nice to be near the front with the entire five man squad from the start.  In keeping with my general feeling of malaise, it seemed like even the clacking of the clip ins off the line was sort of desultory and sporadic, and the pace around the first wide turn felt sluggish at best.  It was therefore not much trouble to reach the front and stay there.  By chance, my entire team did the same. And so it was that we were pulling the field when we passed the line after the second lap.

New member Byron leading the DVR train,
with LaRue (red helmet) coming around the left for an early break.

The race settled into something of a pattern.  There were a few breaks, several by Byron, Tony the Second, and LaRue.  Given that activity, given my highly inferior genetics, and given my overall soporific state, I settled in the bunch and did my part on a couple occasions by soft pedalling and opening gaps when others were trying to bring back the flyers.  (Yeah, I like that role. It's good work if you can get it.)  Although every so often the pace sped up, for the most part the racing was manageable, and almost every lap slowed to a crawl on the two rising sections approaching the start/finish area. Looking back over my GPS file at the lap by lap data for the 16 laps of actual racing, aside from the relatively quick 2d lap in which the team was pulling, the laps were all fairly slow, in the 21-23 avg mph range, or 3:30-3:50 minutes if you prefer.  Either way, that's pretty sedate.

The status quo ante changed dramatically as we neared the final act.  The antepenultimate lap slouched along at a laconic 22mph avg pace in 3:49 -- quite tame. The penultimate lap was a bit more brisk, taking all of 3:38 to complete, 23.1mph average.  But then the slumbering field awoke. Shaking off whatever conjuration of the heat had held it in thrall for most of an hour, what was left of the B field came around for the final time in 3:08 (for me) at a 27mph average speed.  This was a bit painful, I have to admit.  I managed to pass a few suffering soldiers and to not get caught by some others. I crossed the line 11th, at the precise moment my calf seized and said forget it. So good timing in that sense.

Now, the fine officiants at Greenbelt are worthy of great praise. On this day, they captured the first seven B Race riders across the finish line and reported those result with rapidity and precision. But there's been some controversy.  So, as a public service, I note for the inquisitive that Julie Elliot kept a photographic record of the B Race finish, from which we gain a clearer understanding of the identity of the first 13 finishers, and a pretty decent idea about the top 17, in fact. So, counting backward from this image of the first 3 sprinters, Aaron Canale (Ft. Lewis), Matt Ringer (DVR), and Anthony Monaco (ABRT): Places 1, 2, and 3, followed by Jay SHRUM (Jay always gets recorded in uppercase, presumably because he is awfully fast), Place 4, we get to my little groupetto, Places 5-13.  (We eliminate from the count Messr. Escobar of Battley-Harley-XO etc., who makes a cameo in that last image while soloing a couple minutes ahead of the A field.)  After that, it's slightly less apparent how people fared, but here you go: Kat (AU/YAH) in 14, ABRT in 15, Belgian-looking team kit guy in 16 (CRG?), and LaRue (DVR) in 17.  The rest you will have to deduce for yourself.

So I have been trying to bust a top 10 in a race of more than 10 individuals before I finish my time in Category 5 and hang up the cleats for the season. As pathetic as that photo of my "sprint" may appear, I put every watt I had left into the pedals at that point. Alas, I was close but not quite.  Better luck at Reston tomorrow.

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