Saturday, January 5, 2008

Missed it by *that* much - Ronde van Brisbeen (20070408)

Men's E4 - a skeleton crew both days, but I can't blame a lot of the
guys for wanting to hit the 35+ race up, you guys were stacked deep there.

We had Ed Lai, Brian Johnston, Jim Rusk and I in the first day, and just
me and Brian Johnston in the second day.

The first day, that hill took it's toll, and Ed and Brian were both
viciously struck down before their prime. That reminded me mightily of
last year, wherein I cracked on the third to last climb, chased on, then
blew up spectacularly on the last climb. It happens.

This year, I was up there, with Jim with me, and we went into the race
without a plan really so we got predictably mediocre results. I had some
sort of brain malfunction where in the last kilometer I thought the idea
was to sit in the wind and then sprint too early. For some reason, I
didn't win...why not?? Oh yeah, because that's a pretty bad sprint. I
did creep away with ninth though, and Jim came in around 20-something.
There were 100 starters if I recall correctly, so that ain't bad.

Jim and I have resolved to yell at each other (as in "drill it") in the
finish in the future when there's two of us. I would have much rather
blasted myself to pieces knowing he was tucked in third wheel than
finish 9th. Jason James and I made the same mistake at Bariani but then
fixed it in the NorCal crit. Jim and I will get it right next time I'm
sure. And if I'm sprinting I'm going to find a wheel next time! Note to
self - I do not have a 400m sprint.

Then I waved flags at people for a long time and tried to reason
patiently with people about why they really shouldn't try to drive
through a bike race. It worked out okay.

The second day dawned with the promise of a fresh chance at victory and
I saddled up to tilt at windmills again. I really wanted a breakaway on
the Sierra Point course. I actually love this course, it rewards hard
work and positioning, and I'm good at positioning and willing to work
hard, so I'm all excited.

I line up right on the line since this race is really fast from the gun
historically, then they roll the juniors out on their gear check
(juniors have restricted gears - they can't use really big ones - to
protect their knees) and then sit them in front of us - nice! I lined up
on the line for a reason officials, and that's not quite fair. Okay,
we're away anyway and I spent all race trying to attack or off the front
and just never getting the two teams I needed to go with me (Webcor and
Third Pillar) to both be there at the same time, so the other one kept
chasing whatever group it was down. Very frustrating. Maybe I just
didn't commit enough though...I dunno. Nothing worked though.

Fast-forward through the usual round-and-around action, and then there
was a big sprint, and I got 6th. Still didn't quite get the sprint
timing right, but at least this time I didn't go too soon. Probably too
late if anything. Would you believe they had a podium that went down to
5 places? 6th place gets nothing. Sigh.

Got 4th in the omnium, and would you believe that they had podium
pictures for the omnium down to 3rd place? 4th place gets nothing.
Double sigh! Too near misses.

Then I played course marshall the rest of the day (5 hours?) and helped
my other teammates pick up and pack up after the race. Not a bad day,
but it would have nice to get on the podium at our own team's race.
Maybe next year...

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