We Suck!!! Well, not totally; we managed to save the day as the afternoon wore on(and it did wear on). But it certainly was not a day of dominating performances.This race seems to drag out from a 9:00 am start 'till we left at some time after 3:00pm.
Somerville is your typical, All American four corner crit. It's about .9 miles with two long straights connected by a short 400 meter downhill on one end and a 400 meter power -type uphill on the other end. The road surface is marginal and today's festivities were livened up by some fresh tar on the down hill turn that was incredibly slick. This weekend is all about racin' with crits in Manville on Friday night, Bound Brook tomorrow, A Road Race today (that finishes on the crit course), and the main event, The Tour of Somerville on Monday, a national class event. So a full schedule to kick off the summer racing season. Normal people go to the beach and relax with a cold one, not us! We drive two hours to torture ourselves in the first real heat of the summer.
We arrived in time to watch the 35+. Peddler shop was out in full looking to rack up as many points in the 35+ cup competition as possible. Big Shawn Teske was lookin good sportin' the orange Leaders Jersey for the front runner in the cup competition. It looked like they blew it as a six man break got away with no PS representation. But a crash took out all but two riders who held on for the win. The PS guys came to life on the last coupla laps with John Nyman doin' some hard pulls and the two Shawns ( Ricci and Teske) comin' through in 3rd and 4th to rack up more points. Chris Foster, John Nyman, Jerry, and some guys I'm sure I missed finished in the top twenty to pile up some much needed points in the cup competition.
Ryan was set for the Cat 3 and it looked like a decent size field of 60+. They were set for 22 laps. The race went hard from the bell and the pace looked blistering. Several small breaks went but were quickly reeled in. At the halfway point a serious break of five guys including Vladimir Borokov(spellin?) got away and started putting some time on the field. At some point Michael Jenks buried himself in a successful bridging effort and the group looked dangerous. Ryan put in a coupla huge pulls to try and close it down; but the field either would not or could not help out. After several laps, the field gave up and settled in for the sprint. Ryan got pushed wide into the curb coming out of the last corner and came in with the pack. So a rough start, he had the legs; but those breaks in Cat 3 are always a threat to stay away. We'll get 'em tomorrow.
Next up, Cat 4. It was me, Richie, and Stevie Wu (who desperately needs a result). All the regulars were there; Todd Lippin from 3D, John "Smertie" Smertneck (soon to be wearing Pro Pedals colors?), Zach from Iowa ( another possible recruit), Chris Labreque and Dean from Norwood; all the gang. The racin' had been fast all day, Richie commented at the line "this is the kind of race where we could get dropped". Hmmmm..........
We were set for (17) laps, they gave us the flag, and away we went. It started fast. Too fast. First time up the hill we're blastin' it at 25 mph+ and I'm thinkin' " I hope this settles down or it's gonna be a real short day for me". Second time up, same thing. By the third lap I'm completely re-linin' gettin' up that damn hill and I'm thinkin' "I got one more of these in me and that's it!". And on the fourth lap the gaps started to open and that was it for me. Dropped! I kept on riding (what else was I goin' to do?), at some point Richie catches me, turns out he missed a turn (I'm not sure how you get lost in a 4-corner crit), he rides with me for a while and motors away. With about (5) laps to go the pace motorcycle is breathing up my ass and I get flagged off the course. Is there anything more discouraging than gettin' dropped, lapped, and then the inevitable " rider number 2, Your Day Is Over, You Are Out Of Contention, YOU SUCK!!! Get off the course!". A lap later Richie gets the same treatment leaving Steve as our only hope. Steve is at the front ridin' real strong when, with a coupla laps to go, he breaks a spoke. His day is over. So, no finishers in Cat 4. We Suck!
Next up, Cat 5. I told Dennis, our only rider in the 5 today, not to fee lany pressure; but basically he HAD to get a result or it was gonna be a long drive home. There were about twenty starters doin' (10) laps. Dennis is a very savy racer and I thought he had a real shot at winnin' this race. So he does the smart thing, he sits, watches, and waits.And on the last lap he attacks on the hill and I see the distinctive Pro Pedals jersey comin' around the corner. As a side note, the different color sleeves (black on one side, red on the other) make it easy to pick our riders out of a crowd; I don't know if that was Ronnie's intention;but it works. I'm thinkin' there's no way Dennis can hold this, it's a solid 400m to the line. But he looks like he's gonna pull it off! At 200m to go the pack is strung out, they're startin' to fade.At 100m to go Dennis is still hammerin away! But "Oh No!" There's a rider coming off his wheel and he's startin' to come around! 50m to go and they're side by side! Dennis gives all he has and the #@%&*! nips him at the line! Second place! A great effort and a ballsy move leavin' that early. Dirty Dave won the Cat 4 here in September with the exact same move and was just able to hang on for the win. So Dennis saves the day and we're starting to not suck as much.
Next up 45+. I didn't even want to start this race given my crappy showing earlier; but I figured "what the hell", it's paid for. So it was me and Mark. He was feelin' a little weird with his heart rate goin' crazy. They slotted us for (15) laps. The first two laps were reasonably hard, but considerably slower than the Cat 4. About five laps in they settled into a pace I could hold and I actually started feelin' pretty good. Somewhere around the 7th or 8th lap my computer sending unit slid down my fork tube and started bouncing around in my spokes. Not good. So I pull into the wheel pit, drop my wheel, and pull the unit off, and start arguing with the official about gettin' a free lap. He tells me it's not a mechanical, race over. I tell him it IS a mechanical and I wanna go back in. He tells me he'll let me in, but I can't sprint (hell, I already know I can't sprint) and he tells me to finish at the back of the pack. He also tells me to stay out of trouble and not cause any crashes. I don't think he knew who he was talking to! I am, after all, The Captain!!! He must not have gotten the email celebrating my recent 100 race milestone. Poor, misinformed soul. So by the time we're done negotiating, the pack comes around, I let 'em go by, and chase back on. I have no trouble running with the field, Mark is having all kinds of crazy-ass heart rate issues and decides to back off, and weboth come in with the pack. And no, I was a good boy, I did not sprint.
So we salvaged some respectability from a day that started like crap. Dennis was the hero grabbing a hard earned 2nd place and I at least redeemed myself somewhat, comfortably finishing my second race. And Ryan certainly put out a serious effort, but you need a few breaks if you're gonna win in Cat 3 with no team mates.
So tomorrow, Bound Brook! This is a 3/4; me, Ryan, and Otto are doin'it. I'm prayin' it's flat as a billiard table, otherwise you'll get a very detailed race report as I'll be watchin from the curb after the first coupla laps. And of course next Saturday, the State of NJ Road Race.