Thursday marked the second rockleigh series’ second race. The first race established Greg Olsen as the marked race leader, and he showed up large and in charge, ready to defend.
I would like to extend a special thank you to the usual suspects – my sponsors, Yehudah, Murdock, the Koops, the Rojases – for the pictures and support.
I rode to the race and was sweating bullets before it even began. To say it was a hot day would be an understatement. We made our way to the starting line where I surveyed the scene…Skoop, Greg, Brendan, Orlandito, Everhard, Mattie, Tomi and the rest were all there for an hour of some fast racing.
We took off for our two neutral laps, and then we began. Almost immediately, a champ sys rider, Everhard, went off the front working for Greg. We didn’t really chase, they just came back.
Attacks were launched and brought back every so often.
I was feeling tired – I’d spent two full days building beds in 95*+ rooms for the upcoming inspection in a building and wasn’t sleeping enough to offset the sudden added physical labor. But I still managed to think to myself to ride as close as I could to any strong riders I could find.
That included Greg, Skoop and Tomi. One such time, while I was following Skoop’s wheel 30 minutes into the race, he decided that the area just before the speed bump would be as good a place as any to attack. So he did.
Suddenly, I saw the signs I was already familiar with from our many hours spent riding together. He shifted up, got into a super aggressive position, and stood on those pedals. I mean he really STOOD on them. He was stomping away, as I gave everything I had to follow him.
I heard someone whistle on the right but it didn’t matter. Even as I was going 100%, the Unrelenting Force that is Zack Koop was pulling away from me, and the field. I blame his new helmet.
As we closed in on the first corner we came up ton turn 3, Zach did something I’ve never seen him done. He pedaled right up to the turn where he dropped his head, brought his elbows in real close and dive-bombed the corner. The human missile that was Skoop seemed to pick up speed as he coasted and sailed through the turn. I had no choice but to pedal through the turn – he was pulling away while coasting!
When I clipped my pedal, slightly, Zach looked back. He didn’t notice it was me but he knew he wasn’t alone. He took one more short pull up to the next corner, then pulled off on the inside. I came around, ready to work, but I could tell I didn’t have the speed necessary to make a break with such a dominating racer.
I pulled for 10 seconds, probably less, then pulled off. Skoop pulled through, and I noticed that Juanito had bridged up to us (or joined us from the beginning, and maybe I just didn’t notice?). I couldn’t hang on to Skoop’s wheel anymore, so I pulled off. I motioned for Juan to pull through but I had already ruined the rotation.
Skoop rode away as Orlandito and I were absorbed half a lap later.
I took most of the remainder of the race as recovery time for the sprint. I knew there was no point in me trying to go with a move – I clearly lacked the fitness necessary for a winning move at this level.
We raced around and around, and all I could think was, “this is too fast. I just want to be done already.”
At some point, the bell rang. 2 to go. I knew I was towards the back when Everhard circled around me. I chose him as the wheel to follow leading into the sprint. My thought was that he would bring me up to the front to block Skoop for Greg, where I could freelance my way to a top 10 position. Hopefully. Greg later told me that ideally, I would want the fitness to just grab his wheel. Next time.
As we rocketed around the turns, I almost hit the curb in turn one. Then, in turn 2, Ever accelerated away from me and I got pinched behind someone else – turned out it was my teammate William. I tried to move up to get back up to Everhard’s wheel, but figured i would just wait until after the speedbump…but the pace was too high. I fell back in behind William and waited.
I waited until corner 3 when every leaned hard. Everyone leaned sharp and fast. Until…POW!
William clipped his pedal and went down right before me. He took out 1 other racer from FGX while 2 other FGX racers from behind me rode wide and straight into the grass. I grabbed my brakes, locking up my rear wheel and standing me up in the turn…where I made a beeline for the stop sign. I dove right with my wheel still locked as I crossed the threshold from road to grass.
Losing traction, I hit the deck and ate grass. Lots of it.
Skoop one. Handily. Greg took second and Ever took fourth. Maybe it would have been the right wheel. I do have a long sprint, after all.