Glencoe Grand Prix 2014
“Never get out of the boat. Absolutely g*ddn right. Unless you were going all the way.”
-Cpt. Willard, Apocalypse Now
Translation: “stick to the plan”
Briney (v) - to relentlessly attack a field (sometimes with the aid of teammates) and in doing so keep the pace so high that other riders are shed off the back of the race, effectively neutralizing the competition. Named for early 21st century Cat 2 bike racer Tom Briney, who is known to do this not only in races but also on training rides, AR trips to the grocery and possibly even while riding rollers alone in his basement.
We had a plan going into the Glencoe Grand Prix and it made a lot of sense. With five of us staged in the first two rows (myself, Ben Cartwright, Michael Baldus, Kevin Whitford and Brian Johnson,) and a very technical course known for crashes and few opportunities to move up, it made sense to keep the pace as hot as possible and not concede any position, ever. Stay in front, attack and counterattack to keep the pace hot. When one person gets reeled back in, attack again. Baldus is riding really strong right now and we discussed the possibility of him making one of those attacks stick. Glencoe is also a course where if you get enough of a lead the field will lose sight of you and a small break or even solo rider can make it stick until the end. Failing that, we would have whittled down the field and set up Ben for a very manageable bunch sprint.
The whistle blew and we set about putting this plan into action. Kevin got off the line first and did, in fact, start us off strong. Brian and I settled in behind him and traded pulls through the first lap. Then the fun began. A few other riders were mixed in with us at this point and Michael attacked. I stayed top 3 and waited. A lap later when he came back in I attacked. This scenario repeated a few times and I could hear the announcers say we were single file as we came through the start/finish. Damn--we were doing it! Michael was getting good gaps but it didn’t seem like anything was really getting away--we were simply moving too fast and the east wind was pretty strong in the stretch before the final turn. I looked back a few times around corners to see a completely thinned out field. We destroyed it. I mean, we Briney’d it! I knew Ben and Michael were still nearby so this was playing out perfectly.
With 5 laps to go they announced a prime. As we came through the downhill this little voice in my head said “hey, Jim, they offer really nice merchandize primes here. You should go for it.” It wasn’t, “the plan” but it wasn’t that big a deal, right? I was 4th wheel as we ascended the hill and picked my spot to attack just as we crested. I figured I might catch some guys sitting up. I don’t know if I actually did or not but we turned left then right into the wind before the final turn. I could see a shadow behind me and feel my legs getting heavy fighting the wind. I should sit up, concede the prime, and get ready to finish this thing. But that little voice spoke up again “like, really, really nice primes. I heard Fay won a watch!” With that I jumped before the turn, hoping to get a gap. No dice. Riders swarmed around me in the finishing straight and didn’t even bother to thank me for leading them out. I looked desperately for a wheel to grab but they were coming by pretty fast and my options were dwindling. Ben let me in but after turn one I was still not recovered and a gap was starting to form. He and a remaining few came around me to form the lead group and I could only huff and puff and wonder what would have happened if I had played it “safe.”
I solo’d the final 3 ½ laps and rolled in 16th. Ben took 7th and Michael unfortunately crashed, spoiling a fine day of racing. As the rest of the field came through and chatted on the cool down lap more than a few guys complimented our teamwork. “You guys really shredded that field!” We did. We really did. Our plan was solid and we executed it well. I take a lot of pride in that but I’m left to wonder about what almost was. The lead group was made up of names I recognize--and have beaten. If I had played my cards right and not chased the golden ring (or watch or whatever the merch prime was,) I would have been there to help Ben. I made a bad decision and it cost me places for both myself and my teammate. Lesson learned. Stay focused on the plan, especially when it is working. Never get out of the boat.