So… the Big Ring Rumpus. I did not do this race last year so I had no idea what to expect. To be honest the only reason I signed up was to grab some points for the EFTA team competition. The race was lightly attended last year and I was hoping this year would be similar. That way I could just go out at my own pace and pick up 100 or so points for the team. I checked the pre-reg list the night before, already 8 people in class, crap. I showed up to the race completely unprepared. I did a slow but long 6 hour ride on Friday and was up super late to boot so my Saturday was spent on the couch for the most part. I showed up Sunday morning with a Powerbar and a bottle of Powerade both of which I consumed before the novices had even started their race. Thankfully Greg had an extra 16oz bottle of Poland Spring, hopefully that will be enough. I did manage to fill a cooler with beer that morning however so at least I had that to re-hydrate with after the race 🙂
There were 10 of us at the line in Vet I. I looked down at my bike… a 1×10 with a lone 30 tooth at the front. Everyone else had a big ring on their rig… good thing I decided to keep the bash guard, d’oh. Of course not thinking I lined up at the front after being burned two weeks ago at Willowdale. At the start everyone pulled in behind me and I got stuck leading the group out. After half a lap at the front I decided to kick it up, maybe split the group in half and then the remaining riders could get a nice pace line going. After a hard 60 seconds I pull off and instead of the line passing through the guy in second position hits the brakes and swings back behind me. I pulled for another ¼ lap before running out of gas. Three or four riders finally pass and I hop on. Unfortunately at the start of the second lap the leader tried the same tactic and put the hammer down and I fell off the back. Daaaa stuck in no man’s land, but thankfully a few minutes later a friend Andy Diskes caught me. I tucked in behind and we traded pulls for a bit. I was starting to feel better and the two of us were able to catch one of the guys who had jumped past me earlier at the end of the second lap. The three of us worked together until sadly Andy popped and it was again just another rider and myself trading pulls. Towards the end of the third lap a train of seven Vet II gents caught us (they started 60 seconds after us Vet I’s) and I managed to hop on the back. The train was being pulled by three strong gents taking turns at the front. I needed to recover so for most of lap 4 I stayed at the back attempting to put the pieces back together. These guys were moving and had quickly passed all but one of the Vet I’s ahead of me, thankfully none of which were able to stay with the group. As we entered transition at the end of lap 4 I was filled with hope at the sight of the leading Vet I by his lonesome maybe 30 seconds ahead.
Then lap 5 started. The three guys at the front started to attack each other and it was all I could do to keep them in sight. Only a third of the way into lap 5 and I had already fallen several seconds off the back. Well I thought, time to break out the shovel and thus did everything possible to keep the group in sight. Thankfully at the transition area everyone had to slow considerable to traverse the chicanes which allowed me to get back onto the end of the line. Again I see the Vet I leader but this time his advantage is only 10 seconds, just need to hold on a bit longer. Into the last lap the pace was kicked up again and again the elastic began to stretch. Halfway into the lap they finally scooped up the Vet I leader who pulled into the space between the pace line and myself. He was now only a few bike lengths in front of me. I continued to give it everything to keep the group in sight. As we approached the end of the last lap the paced slowed as the three Vet II’s up front recovered for the sprint. This allowed me to get back on but the Vet I leader took the opportunity to move up the line. Sixty seconds later it was every man for himself but I had nothing left for the sprint and ended up finishing 11 seconds behind.
This was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, even considering it only lasted 83 minutes. I have to say the support from the team was absolutely huge. Steve and Shawn were at several of corners encouraging me on and Steve after seeing my water situation handed me one of his extra bottles during the race which was HUGE. Next year its gonna have to be a 34 ring for the Trek
Steve and Shawn then started their race, seven laps. I stuck around to offer my support after they had done such a great job for me. Steve got into a good group with Andy Gould and one other rider and challenged for the $200 prize. Here are some pictures I took of the two:
I apologize for the blurry pictures, my camera is a piece of crap. Maybe we can convince Philip for a team SLR? :p