Me and Dennis decided to do the run to Prospect today, I had originally planned on Millport out in Lancaster, but I really didn't have the time today. I'll be waiting to hear from the boys who went out there. Dennis' wife Kim was ecstatic over my decision to head up as Dennis had talked her into gettin' up at 3:00 am to drive up with him(if he was goin' alone). So if I'm not scoring any points in my household, next best thing is to help out a team mate.
Dennis did the Cat 5 and I did the Cat 4 and it seemed like there was a huge turn-out for all of the fields. You all know how much I love Prospect, but the big fields can make for some interesting racing. They start the 1/2/3's, the 35+, the Cat 4's, and the Cat 5's about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes apart. It's a 3.5 mile loop, the 1/2/3's are doin' around eight to eight 1/2 minute laps.
So it is inevitable that they will catch the 5's and the 4's. Each field has over 100 riders (50 in Cat 5). So when it all comes together you've got people strung out half way around the park. It makes for some craziness. Add to the fact that everybody is riding harder when the Tour De France is on TV ( you don't think these Cat 4's and 5's are wired up after watching Boonen rip that sprint last night?) and it can turn into a real cluster f---.
So Dennis was scheduled for (5) laps, 18 miles; we were scheduled (key word being "scheduled") for 9 laps, 31 miles. Did I mention they pay an assortment of homeless people, drug addicts, and street urchins to man the corners, flip the lap cards, etc.? Add in the joggers, dog walkers, in-line skaters, and some beautiful weather and it's a complete free- for- all. Dennis was on the road the same time as me so I didn't get to see his race. He finished with a nice 5th place in a bunch sprint with one wheel width separating the top ten. He should be sitting in first or second in the Cat 5 points standings up there. They were caught and passed uneventfully by the 1/2/3 field.
Our race started fast and was the fastest Prospect race I've done this year. There's a longish, not to brutal climb (think Bulltown road, about 5 or 6 times as long) and they were hittin' it at a steady 21-22 mph every time up. By the 5th lap it had slowed to a more reasonable 19 mph. As usual at Prospect I felt like I was gonna die the first two laps; but as time wore on and the laps ticked off I was feeling better and better.
That is until we got to the 7th lap. That's when the 1/2/3 field caught us and all hell broke lose. Now the rule is when you get caught by another field, you stay behind the pace vehicle and move to the right. You suck, you got caught, you are now considered "neutralized" until the field passes you. The top twenty guys in our field never slowed down, they caught on to the back of the 1/2/3's and at some point, we must have passed the pace car. In the pandemonium that ensued, I was at the back end of that lead group; so I kept goin'.
What a mistake. These guys were absolutetly flyin'! I'm hangin' on the back redlining the whole way waitin' for the Cat4's to drop back. By the time we hit the hill; I'm blown, I get dropped. I look at my computer as I approach the finish line, 31 miles. I'm thinkin', okay, it's over. I start to pull over after I cross the line when I hear the announcer shout out "Cat 4, last lap".I guess the homeless guy lost count, so the 4's did an extra lap. I see out pace car go through followed by about 8 or 9 riders. So I jump on the back and figure I'm back in it. I'm so smoked from my one lap with the 1/2/3's that I get dropped on the hill again. So I ride the rest of the lap off the back, nobody passes me, and I come in behind the group.
This is where New York bike racing starts to get fun. These guys race the same way they drive cars, hustle down the streets, and carry on in general. All the racers from all the fields are hovering around the officials tent, yellin' at the score keepers, trying to see the camera, straining for a look at the results sheet. What a mess! Turns out that the officials decided (rightfully so) to D Q all of the Cat 4's that sat in with the 1/2/3 field and finished in front of the pace car. The rules are clear, you don't pass the pace car. Of course this was met with vociferous disapproval by the boisterous NY contingent. In other words, everybody was pissed! Except for the guys that limped in behind the pace car and managed to get their top tens. Of course, by the time I crossed the line; nobody was paying attention, so nobody got my number. I've got a lot better things to do than argue with a bunch of NY crazies about a possible 9th or 10th place in a race where half the competition got the ax; so we waited for Dennis to grab his 5th place medal and called it a day.
So another race, another half-ass result (9th, 10th, 30th, 38th? Who knows.) At least Dennis kept up his string of solid top tens at Prospect.
Next week, Mt Holly Crit. At least I'll know where I finish there; good or bad.
Until next time, your "from the saddle, dazed and confused" reporter,