It seems like Rockleigh is the only racing I do anymore these days. Which means that next week will be a sad week when Rockleigh is over. Sad because no more Thursday night racing. In other words, the summer is almost over.
Thank you to Yehudah for coming out to snap some photos and for the Koops, Rojases and all of our usual fans. Thank you to my sponsors for their generosity…you know who you are.
It was a bleak day. Grey, dreary and depressing are all appropriate terms to describe the conditions. Fortunately, racers such as Matthew of Piermont Bicycle Connection (racing for Kissena) came with enough color to liven things up.
The race took off in muggy, gross weather, but we were all happy to be racing. A break developed quickly with ex-Cosmic-racer Anthony Fatuzzo and CRCA development racer Sam Morkal-Williams.
One of the great things about Rockleigh is the small field which leads to everyone having to work no matter how hard they try to hide. There are simply less places to hide.
Zach (Blue Ribbon) and Greg (Champ-Sys) were in first and second while Everhard (Champ-Sys) was in third. This meant that the big guns were there, creating and covering every move.
Every time I looked, there was a Blue Ribbon or Champion Systems rider rotating back on my left or attacking on my right. The pace was BREAKNECK for longer than I was able to hold. Just as I was about to get dropped…the race would slow down and I would be saved by the skin of my teeth
Then there was the Lupus wildcard who thought they would mix things up just for the fun of it.
Slowly, I’m focusing less on the racers around me and more on my own race. I still take note of what everyone around me is doing, but less and less do I attack here because Zach is. I’m not taking this corner hard because that’s what Everhard is doing. If I go with a move, it’s because I think it’s a good time to attack and I feel fresh. If I take a corner hard, it’s because I feel confident in my ability and it’s necessary for me to move up at that point.
With that said, I kept my eyes on Ted, Brendan and Willie who were all sitting top 10. Zach, Everhard and Greg were out of my grasp, but I would still follow them around a decent amount. Also, Juan. I would follow Juan around because he’s very strong.
We continued riding around, racing each other, covering moves, drinking when we could and staying out of the water when we could. Some races feel long – this one didn’t. I looked down at my computer at one point and I noticed it read 46 minutes. The race was to be 50 minutes plus 2 laps. 4 laps to go!
I became very aware of my positioning and those around me. I’ve learned that a great indicator of my positioning is the racers around me. As such, I began picking out the sprinters.
My adrenaline started dripping from my valves freely. I tried to focus on the race and not get too excited, but I moved up too early. I was sitting top 8 with 3 to go, where I usually prefer to be closer to 15th.
Blue Ribbon rotated to the front and began to string us out. With 2 to go, I was sitting comfortably, top 15. I marked Juan’s wheel and held on as closely as I could.
The penultimate lap was hot. Very hot. All I remember was vying for positions with my elbows akimbo as I tried to take down as much air as I could. I felt close to passing out, but then, 1 to go. The Blue Ribbon train fell apart a little early and champ-sys went to the front to control the pace, with Skoop in tow.
I found Everhard’s wheel and held on tightly as Juan rotated behind me.
Going into turn 1, I was top 10. Perfect. Suddenly, Everhard clipped his rear wheel into something and skipped for a second. I took the turn a little wide. I knew Juan was behind me and I knew that move scared him. Before he said anything, I knew he’d be trying to pass me.
“On your left”. You got it, I responded, and I slid in behind Juan as he scurried up before me. He split two riders with me in tow, screaming out “on your left”s and “on your right”s all along. I saw Willie come up for a second on my inside but I gave no quarter. Heading into turn 3, the pace slowed a bit and I seized my opportunity. I took the turn wide and accelerated down the right side along the lead riders. I slid in right behind Ted, in 6th wheel, edging out a Brauer rider (who later lectured me on the bad sportsmanship of my technique).
We entered the fourth corner at full speed in this order: Lupus, Skoop, Everhard, Lupus, Ted, me. I’m not sure what was happening behind me, but I think Greg was on my wheel. As we left the corner, Everhard attacked Skoop on the outside, almost diving right into the bushes. Skoop got right on his wheel, and everyone followed.
Ted must not have seen the move developing because he swerved back and forth across the road to try and overcompensate for the lack of draft and find any bit of solace he could. Seated, I surged ahead to stay in his draft…which I was able to keep. The Lupus rider had gotten down the road amidst all the confusion but as the sprint started up we began to rapidly close in on him.
Zach and Everhard were sprinting head to head with the other Lupus rider in fourth and Ted behind him. If you look closely, you can see his red bike flinging.
I felt Ted slow down and I came around him on the left as Olsen came around on the right.
The Lupus rider was caught and settled in for third as the other one took fourth. Skoop won the sprint at the line as Greg edged me out by half a bike length. I missed fifth place and 1 point by thiiiis much.
Willie came up behind Greg but couldn’t get around me. He edged out Ted which lands me at fifth overall in the GC, tied with Monsieur Horwitz.
It was a fine performance – my highest ever normalized power – but there’s still much work to do.