Every race I've done in the past I look at my result and analyze what I can improve on and how to do it. This race was a bit different. Yeah I didn't win, yeah, I didn't even win the field sprint. I didn't even crack the top 20 to my recollection. Yet I look at this race, at my efforts and I have a sense of satisfaction. Why you might ask, it sure sounds like I had an off day for sure. Let me start with a conversation I had with a Pegasus race while he was pulling at the front trying to bring the break in (I'm second wheel).
Me: "Do you have any riders in the break?"
Pegasus: *Shakes head*
Me: "Dude that sucks. Sorry, but I'm not pulling through."
Pegasus: *Shrugs his shoulders and ups the pace*
I came to Sherman Park with every intension of winning the Cat 4 race. I had the plan in my head, the strategy I wanted to utilize, and yet when the whistle blew and we were under way, the plan changed. Peter jumped hard off the front at the start trying to get the pace fast early (it worked), I was about 10 feet behind him and pulling hard to chase up to him. I realized that I wasn't gaining ground and only helping others bridge to Peter (no good) so I sat up and took on the role of blocking. The first couple laps were crazy, everyones nerves were high strung because of the speed we were going and no chase was getting organized at the front to bring back the 12 or so riders in the break.
3 laps go by and we still see the lead group and I try counting the xXx'ers in the bunch. "1, 2...that's not good odds, should I try bridging? Oh wait, no, there's 3 sweet we're set." The first half of my race was spent at the front trying to slow down the riders as much as possible. It was working time gaps were jumping by 5 seconds each lap and no one was trying to chase. Until I see the only two Pegasus riders up front talking and nod, one drifts back and the other stays up front. A lap later, he jumps hard from behind me, I sit for a split second then clear as day a frantic "Don't let him go!" Rings out, and the hammer drops.
I jump on his wheel and sit there, legs aching, eyes hurting, ears throbbing. He looks behind me, almost directly at me, swerves to the right, I swerve right. I'm not pulling, if someone wants to work, they're going to have to attack. Half a lap later, Met Cycling jumps, I'm right on his wheel, he continues pulling hard and Pegasus jumps, on his wheel again. By this time I'm really hurting, near the edge of my saddle and really breathing hard. Met Cycling jumps again, this time I see Black on his wheel, it's Dugas! Reinforcements! It's now two on two at the front, and the time gap is still climbing. What a race, we're hauling here and ensuring that our guys only have 9 other racers to worry about.
Prime lap, Dugas and I are wheel 2 and 3, bell rings and I call out to Dugas "I want this prime!" Half a lap later, BOOM! He's pulling me around the course with our two main adversaries crying for mercy. I jump for the sprint (not even knowing what I'm sprinting for) look under my arm and see I've gapped everyone by 50 feet, look up again, pound hard, don't stop, keep going. Look under again 100 foot gap, look up there's the line keep going, dig dig dig, done! I cross the line and realize that I feel spent.
But no rest for the weary, Pegasus jumps, and I sprint after him. This guy's a machine, we're going 29 mph, and he's not tiring, please make him stop! I sit on his wheel gasping for air, trying to recover. My legs start cramping, and I continue jumping onto attacker's wheels never giving up the fight to slow the field down. Until 2 laps to go, I see 2 laps and feel my job was done, I pull off the front, and drift back happy to cruise into the finish not worrying about the pace and what happens? Everyone slows down, no one is working up front, it's now a cat and mouse game. I recover in 1 minute and start talking to Brian Parker, asking for a lead out, he selflessly obliges and we start moving forward. At that point, Leonard launches a monster attack, and all Black is on his wheel! We have a xXx train going. It didn't last long though unfortunately, we didn't organize fast enough and I made my huge effort pounding away at 30 mph only to die 50 feet from the line and get swallowed up by everyone.
I don't know how the race went up front, but that wasn't my job. I swallowed my pride, and put a hold on my goals of winning a race. It's better to work to make sure the team wins than to put in jeopardy a win by trying to up the odds of self glorification. All for one and one for all.
Thanks Brian and John, your lead outs will be repaid in full.