By the way, many thanks to everyone who reached out to me today and offered their condolences for my father's passing. The sincerity that comes through from such great people makes it so much easier to re-connect whatever it is has snapped inside of me. Many thanks. It was surprising to me how many people knew about it, but then again I forget that I pretty much chronicled everything here, so word spreads quickly from my handful of readers.. Thanks for that too.
So the usual suspects manage to un-attach themselves from the field in no time. I'd name them but you probably already know the boys I'm talking about- they keep such a close eye on eachother that the successful break includes them all, while less gifted and less ambitious riders don't pay such close attention to what's happening. The winning break started out with what looked like 10-12 guys.
About halfway through the race, I find myself going pressing the pace at the front, trading pulls with Gary A, John L and others. Without realizing it at first, we suddenly have a six man break, way clear of the very large field. We rotated pretty solidly for the next few laps, and it was hard enough for me that with 14 to go, 10 to go and 7 to go, I was having some doubts about having the desire to suffer enough to make it to the end. The pace wasn't killer so I tightened my chin strap and muted out those voices of doubt. By the time we had about 5 to go, we had picked off about 4 or 5 of the original break, so up the road there were only five guys left [who eventually lapped the field]. Our chase group had of course swelled to about ten guys by this time. The field was 1/2 lap back on us, meaning that the winning break was 1/2 lap up on us. We worked hard enough that we were probably only about 1/2 mph off the winning pace.
Final couple of laps, our chase group had a few surges which really went no where, but helped to shed some bodies in the final laps. Two to go there was another hard acceleration, just after my pull, and I had to really dig to stay in contact. It was so close in fact, that I had to force Gary A to close a small gap on the back stretch. It wasn't intentional, and I apologized, but it cost him a match I think. Winding it up for the "field sprint" for sixth, I found myself fifth wheel coming out of the corner. Gary was leading it out hard with John L and his NBX team mate on his wheel. There was someone else thrown in there I can't remember who, but I remember having to touch the break to avoid a fall with about 300m to go. Once I saw my opening on the left it was full gas to the line. My gear selection was in doubt at first, then I realized it was perfect because it let me accelerate the entire way and pass all four ahead of me with about 1/2 wheel or more to spare. So put me down for 6th! It's not a win, it's not a podium, and I didn't even go for one prime, but it feels pretty damn good all the same. This proves that feeling tired or slow or under-rested is all relative [to the rest of the field]. We don't know what speed or result we're capable of unless we press ourselves to the limits.
Coasting after the sprint, I'm completely wasted and can barely catch my breath. Not even pedaling for 1/2 lap. My watch says 7:30 but in my mind I know that it's really 2:30 AM. The decision to race yesterday wasn't a no-brainer. I had to really commit- though I can't pinpoint the exact moment that I said "I'll do it".. The night before I went out with friends until 2:00 am. I awoke at 5:30 to be at the office at 6:30. Drove up to Boston for an 8:30 meeting which took three hours. From there I went to two jobsites in the Beacon Street area, on my feet for about five hours, trudging up to the ninth floor of one building and to the fourth floor in another.. Just wearing myself down more and more. Slightly hung over. Headed to Providence at 3:00.. drove in heavy traffic for 90 minutes.. stopped at the office to drop off a co-worker, went home to grab bike and stuff.. and then found myself pounding out a 20 minute FTP interval as a warm-up at Ninigret. What is WRONG with me? I look forward to seeing what a well-rested Murat is capable of. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but I've worked pretty hard to get into form this year, and hopefully this is a sign of it beginning to bear fruit. Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.