"Are you ever less hungry after a win?"
My question makes him look up from his smart phone.
"No. It's the opposite. I'm hungrier because now I know how to do it!"
My race day mornings are a repetitive ritual. Every little detail must be repeated in the same manner -no question, no deviation. The brief dialogue above only confirmed what I must do on Sunday in order to repeat what happened Saturday, and also what must continue to happen as Montrose nears. Not only would physical acts become sacredly repetive, but mental processes would be duplicated as well on this windy, November Sunday.
After the race Saturday, the racer who lined up beside me told me, "You were making these weird [growling noises] as we started, and I thought 'Dude, go ahead if you want it that bad.'" It's like Randy says, to not have a top five spot going into the hole shot should be "unacceptable." It can't happen. So the noise I make is a primal sort of grunt, kind of like what I imagine the sound would be of a weight lifter maxing out. And when there are 70 animals behind you going as fast as possible, one's fight or flight instinct sort of kicks in, drawing out the grunt to more of a...moan/gurgle? To return to what Luke says about repeating and staying hungry, on Sunday, I would duplicate every emotion that goes into and comes out of the Hole Shot. As the whistle was about to blow on Sunday, I whispered to my line-mate, "Ignore the growling."
His reply, "I expect it."
What happens when the South Chicago Wheelmen team up with CCC on a golf course, for two days? IT AIN'T GOLF! But it does involve a lot of...... Nevermind; I digress. As usual, great organization, super friendly, highly competitive, and overall a very professional day.
I liked this year's clockwise rotation better than previous years. The long grass / pavement 200 meter start with sweeping turn suited me and was much like the Campton start. The whistle blew and the horses left the gate. I almost overcooked the turn and nearly ripped through the course tape. Fortunately for me and those on my left, I held it together and found myself on Andrew's wheel. A good start indeed. We had no problem negotiating the next left turn, little hill, and sand pits. Andrew mashed the pedals with me fighting to hold his wheel. There were a few more turns followed by the first tacky mud section, after which Andrew made a little space for me to pull through, which I did directly. I got out of the saddle and continued the pace he had begun. I soon noticed there was growing a ten to twenty meter gap. Upon leaving the triple barrier section, I noticed the gap had grown, and my next concern was whether or not I could hold this pace solo for another five laps. I shrugged off that notion, punched the clock, and got straight to work. I pedaled the next few laps as hard as possible and completely clean. As the laps ticked away, I was fueled by the shouts of encouragement. More so, I was even more motivated when called the "S" word. Someone called me "Liam!" YES! Thank you! With two to go, I eased up a bit. As the bell rang out on the last lap, I dialed it way back and began to think about my post-up. I thought, "It's my second win and coming off a bad race, and it's a statement. I'm ready to finish this season strong." I absolutely love how every guy on that front line is a total beast. They are ten wheels I would follow with my eyes closed. Respect. As the finish came into view, with my cross tires humming along the pavement, I brushed off my hands and raised my arms.
Thanks to Warren Cycling, I had no doubts concerning my endurance or power coming off yesterday's effort. I lined up with the other mono-maniacs with the same idea. I would attempt to duplicate Saturday in every sense. The only thing that differed from Saturday, was that I did not eat an egg. I had cheese instead of the egg. The whistle blew and just like yesterday, I found myself second wheel after the sweeper. Bryan hammered through the left and put twenty meters on me and 80 other dudes going up the grass hill that leads into the sand. "If he keeps that up, no way anyone catches him," I thought. But the hill was developing a slippery spot right around the middle, and when his wheel hit the spot, the wheel couldn't hold and slid out. Argh! Glad you're okay! I cut a line on the inside and led through and out of the sand. The wind today was stronger and would play a larger role. Just as I did yesterday, I pedaled A.H.A.P through the first lap. Today, however, would be different. As I looked back I saw concerning company, and some not-so-concerning company. Jason and Chase were glued on my wheel. Uh oh. I breathed a little easier when I saw Liam was with us! The group wasn't too far behind. I was following Chase with Liam behind me as we finished the first lap (i think). Jason was fourth. I made a motion to Liam, who immediately hit the gas and went by Chase on the inside. It made me a little nervous, not being a track guy and all, but for no reason as Liam went clear and put on a huge gap. I think I then bridged up on the starting pavement, Chase right behind me. Liam remained strong, and I couldn't hold his wheel. Away he rode. "Nice," I thought! I was second with Chase and Jason behind me. Liam's distance increased; he had totally detached us from the pack. Someone behind me said, "Go around him." When they did, I caught a break from the wind and then began assessing this situation. For now, I would follow and allow them to catch my teammate. If caught, I would certainly go with a counter attack or make the move myself. I cannot remember where or how, but our group reformed as a foursome, and then became a threesome. Liam had fallen off a tad, but was beginning to make his way back to us. I was tiring, and would have to save an attack for later. Once, I did not take my turn pulling through because my teammate was so close. I made the mistake, however, of verbalizing my intention. Don't show your cards! As Chase and Jason picked up the pace, I had to follow as the three of us -the three CCC overall leaders- worked our way through the course. We were very patient and worked the course clean and smooth. At one moment, we almost stalled as nobody wanted to be in the wind. We then became twitchy. I needed to make a move. As we approached the big hill, Chase increased the pace slightly. Smart, because this is where I was planning a move. He either was also planning to attack or was keenly anticipating mine or Jason's. I attacked up the hill, but Chase saw it coming. I couldn't get by. He also closed off my line and made the turn smooth and tight. To seal the deal, Chase killed the little down-hill section and rode a fast, perfect line around the tree. It was over. He and I would each sprint out the last 500 meters, but the gap had been formed. I was lucky to hold off Jason for second place. Liam came in securely holding fourth and in the money.
It was a great weekend of racing. Congrats Chase. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the weekend: the promoters, organizers, directors, the Hilton, the tweeters, the hecklers, and officials. And thanks to all the Cat 3 Warriors. See ya next time!