As you can see below, many of us did our first race of the year yesterday at the Tour da Booze. Pardi, Eric, Starr, K-tizzle and Ben did the Cat 4/5 and I did the Cat 1/2/3.
As we geared up for the race, I was amazed to see how many “serious” racers were there. Of about 16 in my field, 10 or so were probably Cat 1’s. Dino and I were surprised to see that teams worthy of Velo News showed up in full force at a race inspired by alcohol. I guess it goes to show that people don’t need huge pay-outs and prizes to want to race.
My race started very, very slow – The fast guys in the pack would sprint away, get caught, and then whole field would slow down to a crawling pace. This pattern repeated itself several times, allowing the races behind all catch up to us. With virtually every participant in the same pack, the peleton was a mess. Cat 5’s and women were pulling with the 1’s. Sill, the pace crawled and I began to get impatient. I worked my way up to the front and tried to set a faster tempo in hopes of breaking the pack back up.
As soon as I pulled off, a massive effort came from behind. I could have jumped on a wheel, but instead I drifted back thinking that the chase would pull everyone back in. I regretted my choice to sit in as I watched the break distance itself. I knew I should have gone.
I tried working with a few others to bridge the gap. The problem was, that 5’s and masters would mix in the pace line with other intentions. Why would they want to try to bridge up to a break that they weren’t racing against?
My odds of doing well were gone. The group I was in continued play cat and mouse. Anytime someone would pull the pace over 23mph the pack would slow behind him. People seemed more interested in playing tactics in the peleton then focusing on chasing the break. I wanted to work with everyone to catch the break – not race them for 10th, so I made it a training ride for myself. I stayed in the front excessivley (with Tracy), counter attacked the efforts of others and went for the sprint 800m too early.
After the race I wonder: Is it better to try for 10th or should we race to win? Is the risk of wrecking in a sprint worth it when you aren’t in the front? Is there a point where a racer accepts a loss and strategizes for the next best position, or should a racer always aim high?
Oh yea, did I mention the booze? Many libations were enjoyed afterword by all. Thanks to the crew for putting on a fun party.