Man, sometimes I really suck; and today was one of those days. Not exactly a stellar showing for "one of the strongest Cat 4 teams in the state". I'm sure I've uttered that line a few times and today we pretty much got bitch-slapped. Oh well, maybe a little humility will serve us well in the long run.
With that said, we had some decent performances. Medford is a very unforgiving course. It rewards the strong and punishes the weak. All of my cornering skills, wheel-sucking ability, and tactical positioning are not enough to cover for the fact that you simply need power and fitness to fly up that hill at race speeds. And I'm not alone, half the field got popped today; pretty much the same as last year.
The course is 8/10th's of a mile. There's a long, uphill past the start/finish line, a left-hander, a 500m flat, then a hard left that sends you on a slightly curving fast downhill that spits you into a lefthander back onto the finishing straight. It's that last turn that determines your fate. Get in a groove, hit it fast, and carry some speed up the hill and you can survive. If you find yourself sprinting out of that turn every lap you won't last.
So the whistle blew and we were off. As always, it started fast. I was determined to hang in there and tried to move up into a mid-pack position. The first two laps I was on the bubble flyin' up the hill and it was pretty much single file across the top flat.I was doin' my "I'm Screwed if the pace doesn't back off" internal dialogue and just tryin' to survive. The pace didn't back off and I was screwed, by lap four I was done. I got dropped and continued to ride for several more laps. At some point Otto pulled up next to me (he was screwed too, I would assume) and several of us circled around aimlessly until the pace car mercifully came up from behind and put the final bullet in what was left of my festering carcass. I'll be back.
As for the rest of the team; Steve, Dave, and Richie all went down in a crash on the second left-hander. I didn't see what happened, so I won't speculate here, but that pretty much ended the race for those three. Dave gets the "Mel Gibson Lethal Weapon Medford" award when he was apparently on the ground writhing in pain from a dis-located shoulder that him and Richie managed to pop back in (Damn that had to hurt!). Apparently he's had to do this once or twice before and he looked pretty good by the time I saw him. Richie had some minor scrapes and very minor bike damage, so no major damage done to bike or body.
Now with over half the team out we were down to Jonathan, Dan, and Dennis. A guy from Iron Hill, Rich MacLaughlin had soloed off with 9 laps to go. No way he was gonna stay away at the ferocious pace being set, but as the race wore on the field slowed down. Jon is definitely in shape, he was at the front driving the pace the whole way. Dan got up there and was helping to push it, he's got a huge motor and was gapping off the front coming up the hill. I didn't see anybody else working too hard and eventually Dan and Jon ran out of gas. Iron Hill had a great race with Rich Maclaughlin staying away for the win and his team mate Rich Steele getting 4th ( I was tempted to call 'em the two Dicks from Iron Hill; but they're pretty nice guys and they kicked the shit out of us so it didn't seem appropriate). Jonathan rode extremely well and finished up 6th with Dan and Dennis bringing up the back of the pack at 18th and 19th. Along with Me and Otto gettin' blown up there was a long list of casaultys; all of the Norwood guys got hammered ( nice job by John Smertneck hangin' in for a finish somewhere around 24th or 25th), Nicky and Big Ed Murphy from Peddlers were back keepin' me company. Drew from Peddlers got tied up behind the crash and could not get back on, he managed to hang in there for 21st or 22nd, and Jerry Trupella from Peddlers continued his string of solid top tens, I think he was 5th. Basically, a hard day at the office. We'll get 'em next week!
In the 35+ all of our guys managed to hang on and finish with the pack, I heard the average was 25.7 mph. Jonathan, Ronnie, Chris, and Steve Smith all did a good job finishing what looked like a pretty brutal race. This was your basic Mambos versus Peddler Shop war. Big Shawn Teske was wearing the coveted orange jersey given to the Maxiss 35+ points leader. He had to ride a smart race and do the logistics as to who was where. The Mambos, as brutaly efficient as they are at winning races usually don't do all the cup events and have not been real high in the rankings. This race was no different with Dave Hudson getting the win and Richie Ross nailing 2nd ( how about his recent Medford finishes : 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd). Peddler Shop did their job and filled out the top ten with Teske, Shawn Ricci, Chris Foster, and John Nyman (this guy just goes quietly about his business riding in the top ten, usually top six week after week and doin' a lot of the dirty work for the team, he's a horse). Shawn will keep the jersey for another week.
In 1/2/3 action Ryan was givin' it a shot. He's been a little off lately (a little over-trained perhaps, he's moving and signing on a house this week; maybe just some late season malaise). They were scheduled for 50 laps. He actually looked extremely comfortable, but had some more bad luck when a crash late in the race forced him to lock up his breaks and his tire appeared to spin and shear the valve stem. No crash, no harm done, and (unfortunately) no finish.Ryan's had the best of luck and the worst of luck this season. Nine wins in a row with-out any major problems and nothing but bad luck and crashes in the 1/2/3's. When he finishes, he's there. It will turn around, it always does. Meantime a six man break lapped the field and that was it, race over.
Mark Cowin came out and pretty much made a suicide run. Flew in from Phoenix, got off the plane at 6:00 am, came straight to the race. Got in trouble early in the 35+ and later on did the 1/2/3 where he actually looked pretty solid for the first ten laps; but a major attack to close down an early break blew him apart. He's been running (literally) coast to coast all year and I'm sure he's feelin' it. Oh, did I mention he had a screw (or a pin) replaced in his knee last week? That's why he was wearin' those incredibly funky 1980's retro tights, to cover the bandages. He looked like one of the Spice girls. He'll be back.
So not exactly a dominant performance today, but a nice ride by Jonathan for 6th and a good effort by Dan to try and get it done. And many thanks to Jonathan and the lovey Mrs. Jonathan (Jacqui) for hosting a nice barbeque at their home. I took out my frustrations on the chicken, london broil, fresh garden tomatoes, and those super-secret homemade energy bars. All excellent!!
Next up, Englishtown Tuesday evening! I'll be lookin' for redemption (it is flat, isn't it?)
Your "blown and busted" reporter