Emigrant Crit Race - 2nd Place
As the afternoon drew on it became clear that the dark skies were more than just a result of our recent bout of forest fires. Driving to the course the rain started and then the thunder and lightening. On arrival I was hesistant to be a tall guy with metal cleats on his shoes walking around.
Emigrant crit is damned hard and was very wet. It's more than a mile loop with a big climb and a fast downhill.
After a brief warm-up of a couple of laps (and some discussion with the local sheriff about whether we would be allowed to race) we were off. Pretty soon 'high cadence' Robert took the lead up the hill and Allan jumped in behind him and I followed. The whole thing was looking fruity from the start. The course levelled out and then we hung a reasonably sharp right before heading down a wet hill. Well, Robert had no fear at all and created a gap on the downhill. I had plenty of fear and used my brakes, which I'm afraid probably punished those behind me too. Even Allan, with his years of experience wasn't keeping up with Robert so I elected to follow Allan's wisdom on this occasion. At the end of the race Robert confided that his front wheel was skipping out on the first descent (INSANE!).
As we rounded to climb again Robert was ahead by perhaps 10 seconds, with Allan, me and Rick behind. Allan shouted something like, "let him suffer out there and keep steady Rick", so that's what we did. Rick lead the climb on that lap. As we came around again, Robert had extended his lead and I lead the climb for the 3 of us - well, that is what I intended to do but I dropped Rick and Allan. I rode the next several laps on my own until after one climb I was surprised to see Rick catching me up and Allan nowhere in sight (I would have expected the opposite).
Rick and I worked together for a couple of laps and I think we took some time out of Robert. Rick's cornering was much better than mine so by following and copying him I was able to slick things up a lot. We weren't catching Robert but i felt it 50/50 that he would fall off in one of the corners so we pushed on. A couple of times his chain fell off on the climb and we began pulling back at him but Robert got back on and sprinted like hell so we didn't get much benefit.
With 2 laps to go I pulled to the front to take my turn and to stretch my legs I came out of the saddle. Just doing that for a few seconds let me drop Rick, which I had not intended to do but I was also figuring we had lost first place by then so it was me and Rick fighting for 2nd. I pulled the rest of the hill and made a little more space on Rick and managed to hold it on the descent (after he had showed me how to do it).
An uphill climb to the finish line and I notice Rick 20 yards back and out of the saddle. I worked it pretty hard to maintain my lead and cross the line for second place but was unable to talk when I crossed the line I was panting so much.
So, a second place, which is OK. I like to reflect on why I didn't win and this time it was because I was not prepared to risk the kinds of speed Robert was doing on fast downhill corners on a wet road, so 17 points instead of 20, not so bad!