We had a good EECT turnout in the B race. Mike Merlo, Thomas Houghton, Nicos Luciano, Kristian Saether, John Young, and Tom Miceli were present at the start. Three Mineola guys, some Babylon guys, Carl Hart, and a smattering of other riders completed the field.
The race got off to a quick start. A few surges in the first few laps had me hurting a little bit. I’ve been sluggish all week. I think part of that was due to the heavy load from the previous week. The first prime came up quite quickly, and Mike got off the front to get it. He got the prime, and kept going. I don’t think the other riders realized that he had opened up a substantial gap. I also don’t think they realized his TT abilities due to the fact that he’s a Triathlon racer.
About thirty seven minutes into the race, the guy who’s wheel I was on appeared to get spooked by someone coming up on his left. He was also overlapping on the left of the wheel in front of him. Spoked, he then rode himself into the wheel. His front wheel appears to go right and he leans right which then caused him to crash. For some miracle, he sled off to the right and I was able to ride right by wout out incident. Had he leaned the bike left and kept his body right he might have been able to pull out of it. Another good reason to learn to ride the rollers, so you can get used to that feeling, and then you learn how to correct for it.
Video of the crash:
With the gap growing, the rest of us were out of the race for first place. Some of the Mineola guys realized it, they tried to chase early on, but no one else wanted to help. With about five laps or so to go, I think the whole field gave up on catching Mike. By then he had at least a minute and a half on us, basically a half a lap.
It was becoming clear that the main field was now racing for second and third place. We covered and neutralized any attempted attacks. We tried to stay off the front, and let the other teams and riders do the work. With three to go, I heard some of the other guys chatting. I figured they were plotting an attack so I got ready. But nothing came.
With two to go, Thomas came by and told me that on the last lap, after the rise going into the back stretch, I was to get on Kristian’s wheel and then let it rip. Bell lap, and on the downhill, Kristian executes a mini attack which didn’t last long but Nicos responded with another attack. This disrupted the pack a bit, but it also disrupted us who were trying to position ourselves to get on each other’s wheel for the red train. Also, attacking on a downhill is not always the best strategy. Most times you just end up dragging the whole field with you thus creating a wasted attempt.
Fortunately as we closed into the crest of the small rise, we were back together. Thomas let Kristian slide in front of him onto the front. A few pedal strokes later he signaled me to go by and get behind Kristian, which I promptly did.
Settled in, Kristian upped the tempo, and I hung onto his rear wheel like glue. He swung left across the road, and I swung with him. Halfway down the backstretch I could tell he was about to blow, so I stomped on the pedals, and came out on his right accelerating hard.
I brought the speed up from about 24 mph up to 28. I rode hard and tried to go as long as I could. Closing in on the final climb, I started to swing right again to avoid all the bumps on the left of the road. Starting the climb, I was fading and I knew I was about to hit the wall. I wiggled my elbow, and screamed out for Thomas to go by. But no Thomas. Realizing he wasn’t going past, I tried to apply more power in order to keep myself from bleeding too much speed. Over all, my effort lasted about 41 seconds. I keep questioning my effort. I wonder if I could have gone just a bit longer in order to deliver the other two teammates closer to the half way point up the hill.
Finally Thomas burst by along with the 17(?) year old kid, and Nicos in toe. I then watched the whole field go by as my legs could not go any more. Team duty done, I rolled through the finish at a leisurely pace. I waited for Kristian to catch up so we could have a cooldown lap together. End result? Mike got both primes and first place. Thomas got third, and Nicos fourth. Not a bad finish for EECT.
Final lap video:
Points of reflection.
I suspect that some teammates are a bit upset that we in EECT were all neutralized once Mike was off the front, and thus they found the race to be quite boring. But that’s racing. To me, learning to work well as a team is more important. I blew myself up to keep the pace high so the rest of the field would have a bloody hard time attacking the finish, thus giving the strongest guys on our team a good shot at podium positions. And to me that’s what racing is about.
We probably could have organized another breakaway closer to the finish once we were sure that Mike was uncatchable. Perhaps, erring on the side of caution was a better move? To me, what was more disappointing, was that the other races, and there were enough of them, did not organize a good chase, which would have made things more interesting for us in the main field. Oh well. Seldomly do things go your way in a bike race.
Good job Mike, Thomas, Nicos, Kristian, John, and Tom!