Sunday, September 25

Potpourri (Rhonde van Stony)

This was my first, but not last, Rhonde. I knew the roads, most of the trails and a few of the players. I was given some bike and tactical advice by some of last years participants, so I was ready for the 9 a.m. start.

Racing in the expert 40-49 group meant lining up behind the elite group. This quickly blended together on the roll out and there was no distinction between anybody. The left hand turn onto the dirt reminded me of Iceman, as it shortly turned into two track. We are now on the trolley trail and the lead group is gone! The conditions are great. The previous nights rain packed the sand perfectly. I decide to follow the KLM train and hope I don't lose contact. Some riders are trying too hard and several crashes and overshot corners leave us moving forward. We pop out of the woods and hit the pavement. There are a few small groups ahead and we try and close the gaps before we hit the dirt roads. We succeed and the second group starts to take shape. By the time we turn North on Sheldon there are 15-20 guys. The roads are dry and fast, so the group speeds forward. About 5-6 guys take turns pacelining in the front while the rest sit-on. We turn North on Mt. Vernon still taking turns for another mile or so, when a ACF rider decides to attack on a small climb. It's easily brought back, but now the fight is to stay up towards the front. The pavement is about to end and things get rough.

Back on the dirt (mud) guys are fighting for wheels the next 200-300 yds. There are pot holes and the road is a muddy mess. There are two tire tracks that offer some smoother riding, but making any passes or changing grooves was sketchy. Conditions didn't improve for 2-3 miles until we hit Dequindre. The pack is on dryer roads and still holding together. Small attacks come of the front, but nothing sticks. By now the same faces are in the front of the pack and guys want to thin things out. We turn West down Taft and the first hard effoert comes from Kelly of KLM. He goes for about a minute or two then waves me through. I keep tempo until the 'climb', when Armando Vega and an ACF rider launch a hard attack. I manage to stay on and we crest the climb, decend past Dequindre, when Todd F. of KLM goes to the front and forces another hard tempo. He said," Let's Go! there's a split and we have five guys." He pulls, then it's Armando's turn. He didn't seem motivated or perhaps was tired from the previous attack, so I pull through. The road turns to soft, muck. It feels like you have a flat or someone is holding on. I search for a line up the left and keep going. I'm waiting for others to pass, but nobody does. I see the turn South and keep going. It's another minute before 4-5 guys pull around. I get in line and wait.

Heading South on Dequindre it's more of the same. Someone rides off and he gets pulled. This goes on until we pass 31 mile. A O2 rider goes and gets a good gap. Selle chaces and I get on his wheel. He pulls then it's my turn. It takes a while and help from others but he's brought back on Rush. The miles are whinding down and a few more attempts are made but the pack stays together. The pack is now bombing down Sheldon and guys keep launching off the front in hopes of being first into the two track at Stony.

We enter Stony and I'm sitting 8-10th in the group. I get by several guys in the next mile and I'm now 4th. Selle is yelling to keep speed for the climb that's coming. We make a turn right and I hit a large puddle. I make a good save and stay up, but the momentum is gone for the hill. They gap off about 30-40 yds. I can see them and give chase. I make another tactical mistake. While on the two track paralleling Sheldon I don't close the gap. I sit behind Armando thinking he will. A guy from ACF goes around us and makes contact in the single track before Sheldon. We turn on Sheldon and Armando has nothing left. I dig deep and try to bridge the gap, but I can't catch. I see them hit the grass at Baypoint and lose hope. I think the finish is a few hundred yards away. I let up too early. Not saying I would have caught them, but not knowing the finish was another mistake.

I had a great race. I learned somethings and believe I finished second in category. Final results aren't in yet. Thanks to Mike for putting this on. See you at Grampian.

Monday, September 19

Waterford Double Cross - 1 & 2 (Groundhog Day)

What a weekend! I don't know how it looked from the sidelines, but it was a full 90 minutes of racing excitement from between the ribbons.

Before I recap my POV on the racing I'd like to say THANK YOU! The list is in no particular order and if I didn't mention you, tough shit. Just kidding, I'm trying to remember it all. Thanks to.......
Tailwind Racing for a great experience. Things went smooth from registration-awards.
Tom Clark for the muffin.
DC for the kind words. Great job, both days. Glad you made the jump.
Dan Bannink for the great pull on day 2
David Johnson and John Osgood for the great racing and conversation.
Rob Selle for keeping it tough. Nice job on the Win.
Brian W, Tom Payn, Jason Cotter, Shaun Welch and everyone else for cheering.
Everyone who hung out and talked. It was a great scene. No attitudes, just people having a good time.
The whole Masters 35+ group. The racing was tough and clean. Respect too all.

Now for my bias opinion on the Masters 35+ Day 1 and 2. Both days went similar for me, so I'll make day 2 references in (...).

Having moved up to this class late last year I didn't know who to watch, so when I got to the line on Saturday my expectations were mid pack or slightly better. The field of riders was strong and I was marking a couple familiar faces (Osgood, Johnson, Selle, Bailey). The pace was fast off the line and guys were looking for wheels to get behind. Rob Selle (David Johnson) was off the front and had a noticeable gap. The rest of us rode mostly single file once on the grass and settled in for lap one. The lone leader was brought back to the group in lap 2/3 then the next attack would come. On both days this was the one to get on and  I managed to do so. On day 1 it was David Johnson, Osgood and me from mid-race on. We each took our share of the lead and managed to build a good gap on the rest. ( Day 2 was Selle and Me. We built a gap, but Osgood and Johnson weren't far behind). I lead ,both days, into the bell lap.
Once we hit the grass though I was passed and had to fight to get on the wheel.  Day 1 I was sitting 3rd and couldn't get around before the pavement. Osgood lead out and was the stronger sprinter. I finished 2 seconds back in 3rd.
Day 2 I had a short blow up and told Osgood and Johnson to pass. I didn't think I would recover so quick and Selle was pulling away. I managed to hold on and get past Johnson and was closing to Osgood down the final hill, but like day 1 I couldn't catch. 3rd for the second day and another 2 seconds behind Osgood.  Like I said in the beginning, What a great weekend! I raced for 2 days, finished 3rd both days and was only a combined 7 seconds from winning both days. This picture describes my weekend pretty well....Chasing Osgood. It's going to be a tough season and MR. T, I hear you. Time for some suffering!