I drove to the start today. It was getting late at the office and I missed my deadline to get home, dress and cycle to the Sample gates for 6pm. So I dressed at home and drove to the course, but not without taking several frustrating u-turns and shortcuts around the bypass and Pete Ellis Drive. I ended up parking at A Summer House and cycling over to the Eastside Bakehouse to get two bags of Granola. I enjoy parking the bike out front and walking in wearing my race kit, cleats clicking across the floor. Heads turning, conversations stopping. It’s a good feeling knowing that your representing something other than just riding a bike. it’s something that I don’t take for granted. When I am in the Kit it’s like I am an employee, a cycling consultant to the Scholars Inn Bakehouse. It’s something that I am proud of.
I said, “Hello” to the staff there and Kirk, the manager gave me a couple of bags of granola. One for the midway prime and another for the finale. I stuffed them in my shirt under the collar, like a professional domestique might carry water back to the stars and cycled to the start finish. Lyle caught up to me on 446 on the way down to the course and we chatted for a while. He was testing some new Zipp deep profile carbon rims. We talked a bit about wind and speed and cornering and wheel stiffness vs lightness. Small talk to keep us occupied in the nervous moments before a race. Sure the WW series is just a ride, but it is a significant test of a cyclists’ depth and resolve. Lyle turned back at the top corner of Knightridge to take some practice lines through the difficult corner. It was a good use of time. I headed down to the start finish to drop off the loot. I placed the bags against the post of the sign that is the landmark for the finish line wondering who would be the beneficiary of the prizes in today’s battle. Clearly, we don’t race for prizes. We would do this for nothing. But the granola has become a sort of tradition on this loop and it serves as a morning reminder to the victor of a hard won fight the night before.
I headed back across 446 to W. Knightridge and met the group of about 40 heading toward the course. I fell in line in the front with Fred Rose and asked if the group decided on number of laps. The consensus was 6 laps. While I was prepared to do 8 tonight, I wasn’t disappointed. I know full well that on lap 5 I am ready for the end to come soon!
As usual, a strong group was in attendance including Rose (Scholars Inn), Abdelkader (MOB), Atwell, Kroll (Joes), Cox (Aldefer), Depasse (Kevin- Bissel and Brian- Scholars Inn), Read, Johns, Wise, Stanford, Feigenbaum, Sojka (in Dogfish gear) and other Delts. Tom Chorny (IU Steeple Chaser wearing Nuvo) and Dave Able (Arizona) joined us as did a few women. The business of racing got underway quickly and we were single file right out of the gate. The pace was high and there were several attacks and fliers taken in the opening salvos. First Rose, then Atwell, then Kroll and K. Depasse. All showing excellent midseason form and Kroll showing that his recent dominance of the masters (and upper categories) group is no fluke.
Nothing was sticking in the first two laps, not surprising as the average speed was nearly 27 mph! A few attempts at escape were made along the intimidating rollers on 446 into a not insignificant wind. The second and third laps were incredibly painful as the group was responding to Atwell, Kroll, and Depasse lighting fuses and covering attacks. By the next lap, climbing the hills toward the midway prime, only 15 remained. We entered the top corner at speed, single file. I knew there were only 15 of us because I was the lantern rouge on this express! I counted the riders ahead of me as we rounded the corner, careful to select the right gear to chase hard out of that corner. A poor gear choice, coupled with being behind a rider who misses the apex could mean getting jettisoned and never regaining contact. I made it this time and drilled it hard all the way to the finish watching Atwell charge for the line and getting a swift response from Bissel’s Depasse for the midway prime win!
We regrouped quickly after these fireworks and settled into a fast paceline around the course for 2 laps. There was some activity, but the pace was still high and the temperature was still hot enough to keep the dogs in their pens for a while longer. In the final lap, I was beginning to lose consciousness up the final climb, just opening a bike length gap from the departing train. I was somewhere between a rock and a hard pace when Able came around and bridged with me in tow! We made it through the corner and began the final selection on the tailwind descent toward the finish. I was too far back to matter but was able to see the group swell then witness the free-for-all surge to the line. Leadouts were given, opportunities were missed, risks were taken. In the end, it was Depasse to the line first! Completing a perfect game tonight with the mid-way prime and the victory!