For many of us it had been as far back as Ice Weasels or NBX since our last race day. Marblehead marks the official start to the road season. Here’s a recap of the 2011 season opener in the cat 4/5 race.
I felt pretty good today. It was nice having Vic there to warmup and race with. It felt a little strange to do this race this year without getting a CRW or Wells race in prior. 2 years ago this was the first “real” race that I ever did and I had this feeling that I needed to save something for later because that little kicker would get hard or I might get gapped in “the turn”. There were also a couple of crashes 2 years ago, after the one on the kicker I ended up trying to hold Miller’s wheel to catch back up on the last lap but just couldn’t do it. Put simply it was hard for me to keep up the pace 2 years ago.
This year was much different. After racing cross last fall I really got my pre-race routine worked out. Vic and I warmed up for about 20 minutes on the trainer and then headed to the course and got 2 laps of course recon in before pulling up to the starting line in last place – we missed most of the race announcement as I quickly took my jacket off and tossed it to the side. Vic and I discussed some strategy before the race but for some reason I was content to just ride around in circles for most of the race moving up a few spots every lap but without being overly aggressive. I kept an eye on Vic who was always 3-5 five rows ahead of me but I didn’t work my way up to him until about 5 to go only to quickly lose position again. I kept waiting for the pace to pick up but it stayed pretty mild for most of the race. I haven’t looked at the numbers but I would guess we were doing about 21-22mph on the rolling hills on the back side of the course.
The last 2 laps of the race got a little bizarre. I am not sure what was going on, either people just started blowing up in front of me or we were lapping riders but I ended up dodging slow riders that seemed to come right through the peloton. I found I could move up a bit on the inside before the last turn, probably because this is the worst line ever but I thought it was worth taking it to move up in position going into the final climb. I ended up having to slow down a bit to take the turn on the inside and gave up some position. I stood to close down a little gap out of the turn but at this point it was too little too late. Again more riders giving up or getting lapped. This continued up the climb. Because of all the “debris” I really couldn’t just mash the pedals so I gingerly rode up the climb, started to sprint and remembered this isn’t cross, there aren’t any more points for 12 vs 17 so I sat back down and rode behind Brier and a clump of about 5 riders to the finish.
All in all it was a nice day and a nice way to start the season. I probably could have put out a little more effort on the last few laps and tried for a better result, I certainly had the legs, which is a welcome change from a few years ago.
See you guys out there again at Blue Hills.