After waiting patiently for the time to change back to where it should be, the Tuesday nighters have returned to Austin. I love these races are great for weekly training because: they are free: there are no officials, so you can jump in the field late if you don’t get there on time, and no-one calls you stupid if you decide to pull the pack around the whole race and get dropped at the sprint… and no-one complains if you want to sit in until the sprint.
I was a little hesitant to go because of some close calls with increasing vehicular traffic, but after the race, I have to say that this was one of the funnest training rides I’ve done all year.
From the start, Anuthee Huffstetter and Steven Wheeler got away without anyone seeing them. Barry Lee and John Korioth separated themselves on the hills and I bridged up to them, knowing them to be a strong bunch. We caught Wheeler and Anuthee after a few miles of chasing. Our group began working together well and I was fairly confident that we would stay away. Going through the hills on the second of three laps, the pack became visible again and it was clear that they were making time on us.
Keeping in mind that this was just a training race, I decided to fall off the break and join the pack in the chase. I hung out for a minute in the chasing pack, but as we were climbing the last hill in the hill section, I decided to see if I could attack and bridge back up to the break I just came off. I attacked and put a good separation between the field and myself, but catching the break was very difficult. By the time I joined back up with them, I was very exhausted. This is what I love so much about training races; you can ride yourself into the ground for tactically good reason and not really care about the consequences… the only objective is just to gain fitness and racing experience and to have fun.
The funny thing was, I don’t think anyone knew anyone in the break knew that I had gone back to visit with the back for a few moments and bridged back up to them. By the time the pack caught us, I wasn’t fully recovered and nearly fell off the back of the field. So I decided to sit in for a bit and recover. Halfway through the hills on the last lap, Barry Lee started riding off the front again. He was listening to his iPod, and despite his growing gap, hi didn’t make it look like he was actually working very hard.
I wondered if Barry even knew he had a gap on the field. I bridged up to him and began pulling, trying to create a sustainable gap in front of the pack. We were making good time on the field and I believed we had a good chance of staying away.
Noticing that the pack was now making time on us, I attacked Barry on the hill about 3 miles from the finish, but he responded well despite not appearing to be able to take a pull on the flats. The pack caught us a little bit after the hill and people began responding with counter attacks.
A Mathis brother rider countered and was sustained his distance. People began trying in vein to bridge up to him. Wheeler took a hard pull at the front, and I made the decision that today I was either going to finish ahead of the pack of behind the pack. As wheeler pulled off, I attacked with about a half-mile remaining of the race. I went a little harder than I should have because I soon found myself breathing so hard I couldn’t really do anything but soft-pedal and breathe for the next 30 seconds. This was no longer my race to contend, so I smiled contently as the pack rushed by me in my completely exhausted state.
In a real race, I would never attempt some of the moves I tried and I really enjoyed the chance to test my fitness and get a good workout.