Longbranch RR Report

Longbranch Race Report
Wife: “Do you think that’s a good idea?”
Me: “Todd did it.”
Wife: “I rest my case.  That man is not normal.”
That’s how the conversation went after I signed up for two races on the same day.  How bad could it be?  Read on to find out.
Race 1: Men’s Cat4 (the morning race)
In my mind the course contained three challenging sections: in order of difficulty –  The first climb C1, the second climb C2 and the false flats FF.  The race started on FF and Big Frank C and myself casually rode off the front for a bit at the start.  That was shut down at the sharp turn and the pack headed through the rollers to to C1 at a brisk pace.  The first time up C1 hurt.  It hurt a lot and I didn’t like racing anymore by the time I got to the top.  A 15-year old kid had attacked and gained a good lead.  The pain quickly faded and an Audi rider an Apex rider and myself spent a couple of miles riding hard chasing him down.  Before I was fully recovered C2 came and it was more disappointing than C1 because I wasn’t expecting it to be hard but it was.  At least it was short.  One lap down.  Ugh.  The climbing became easier on lap 2 and even easier on lap 3.  Looking at the data afterwards I was climbing slower, but the pack was going slower still, so I felt relatively stronger.  The race had attacks throughout and someone was almost always off the front.  Usually solo.
On the 4th and final lap we caught the last break and on C1 the kid tried to get away again.  After an initial gap I was able to hold him at a constant distance and topped out just behind him.  The group came together and it was going to be a mass finish.  I stayed at the front up and over C2 and was feeling good.  With a mile to go the kid’s teammate led out.  At 1K the kid took over and was hammering.  I was 4th wheel right behind Big Frank C.  Perfect.  At 200m the kid blew up.  The guys in front of me hesitated.  What the hell?  It was earlier than I had planned but I started to go for it.  Not with enough conviction though.  Andy T. from Apex blew past me pulling along two other kids.  I chased but Andy was gone.  I’m guessing he was mad that Todd and Black made him chase in the rain all night long at Seward last Thursday.  I closed in on the other two kids but didn’t catch them before the line.
Result: 4th place.
Race 2: Men’s Cat4 Masters (the afternoon race)
Lap 1  –  I Want to Quit:
I rolled out onto FF with the masters field of 13 racers and immediately knew things were not right.  My legs hurt.  A lot.  Maybe I should have warmed up or down or something instead of laying around in the shade between races.  I was hanging off the back of the pack when no one was attacking.  A mile in I was considering dropping out and claiming I had never started.  I cursed Todd.  I was in trouble.  A couple of miles in the legs started to feel better.  Just in time for C1.  On C1 I was dropped to the back of the pack.  At the top I had to squeeze my eyes tightly shut, dig deep and chase back on.  Three guys didn’t make it.  That left 10 of us.
Lap 2  –  I’m Going to Hurl:
The second time up C1 I felt like throwing up.  I was considering whether I should stop so I wouldn’t throw up all over my front tire or should I hurl while riding so I wouldn’t loose time.  I shouldn’t have stuffed down that lunch between races when I wasn’t really hungry, but I figured I would need the calories.  By slowing down I made it to the top hurl free.  I had no idea where I was in the race and when I looked up I was not surprised to see that I had been dropped.  More grimacing.  More hard chasing.  I barely caught back on to become the 6th rider in the lead group.  The group rode hard.  I tail gunned.
Lap 3  –  Cramps:
On the sharp turn after the FF the guy in front of me had his rear tire lose contact and I had to swerve and stop to avoid going down.  He didn’t go down, but instead went off the road and into the trees.  The other 4 riders attacked.  I was pissed and chased back on without grimacing.  That left 5 of us.  On C1 I got out of the saddle and both quads started to violently twitch.  They were about to lock up with cramps.  I had to sit back down.  Oh well, I was limited to seated climbing.  To my great surprise I was the second man up the hill.  The HSP guy was the strongest.  I chased up to him and the group caught on shortly afterwards.  On C2 the I stood up again with the same result.  I quickly sat down again and hoped I wouldn’t start cramping while seated.
Lap 4 – Let Me Get Half Way Up:
My goal for lap 4 was to get half way up C1 before cramping.  Then I could walk the rest of the way up and slowly roll around for 5th place.  On C1 the HSP rider attacked.  I didn’t bother standing up I just tapped out a rhythm I could maintain.  Half way up the climb I didn’t slow down as much at the other 3 riders.  In fact I kept an even gap to Mr. HSP.  At the top I was in no mans land – behind HSP and ahead of the other 3.  With no forethought at all I slapped the left controller, put it in the big ring and slowly ramped it up.  In no time I halved the distance.  After some work I was on HSP’s wheel.  He was foaming at the mouth (I kid you not) and peddling like a demon.  This could be the race.  I was in no condition to help and was willing to concede 1st if he could tow me to the line.  After two miles of this the other 3 riders managed to catch back on.  On C2 I rolled into the start of the climb hard and managed to make it half way up before HSP passed me.  I couldn’t stand up but I hung on well and only had to close down 15 feet after the top of the climb.  I could finally feel the pull of the finish line.  I was going to make it.  I looked back and we had dropped 2 more.  That left 3 of us for the final few miles.  Mr. HSP stayed at the front and just kept hammering, never looking back, never asking for help.  That guy was impressive and I was willing to let him win.  The Tacoma racer didn’t want me at third wheel and with 1 mile to go pulled aside.  I just slowed down.  Mr. HSP was riding away.  Tacoma got back on and we were set for the finish.  With 200m to go Tacoma blew passed HSP and I stayed on his wheel.  At 100m I started to come around but Tacoma wasn’t having it.  He let out a primal scream and bared down hard.  For the first time in the race I went on the offensive and smashed the pedals with purpose.  In three or four strokes I was cleanly passed him and then maintained speed to cross the line first.  As soon as I stopped pedaling my right quad cramped hard.  A half second later my left quad locked up.  I groaned and accepted my fate – if my muscles didn’t release before my momentum died I was going to crash into the ditch.  Oh well, at least the race was over.
Result: 1st place.
Damn you Todd!
-Ed Praisits