Thursday night marked the opener for the Rockleigh World Championship series. The weather was bleak; thunderstormy, rainy, muggy, wet and humid. The result: a pretty small field.
I rode up with Zach and Yitzy to get 1.5 hours in my legs before the race, and met Yehudah there. Also, Chanee. Also, the fam. Thanks for coming.
It was good to be back and, looking around, good to be back with familiar faces. Bender was back from college, Zach, obviously, Brendan came out to test his legs, 2 old cosmic teammates, RG, Mattie and Sedlak made the very far drive for a rainy Thursday night championship.
We lined up.
The best part about Rockleigh are the 2 neutral laps. Sudden starts at crits unnerve me, which I guess they’re supposed to, but the 2 slow laps are nice and relaxing.
And then, just like that, we were off. Zach went. Everyone followed suit. Strung out, we were all fresh, so nobody really cared to let him come back slowly by himself.
He came back, but not before Bender attacked him, as his M.O. has rapidly become. Bender caught his teammate Skoop and then went off the front. But Sedlak shut them down.
A few more little attacks went, some with Zach, some with Rego, some with neither, and one with both. It looked promising, but the pace was getting pretty high, so I just sat and watched rather than overcook myself this early in the race.
Sitting towards the back is never a good idea, especially when the field is so small. But I figured I would just follow the NJ State Champ Rich Gonzalez’s wheel around for a little while, move up when I needed to.
That lasted all of 5 seconds before I got restless and decided that since Frank bridged up the the Rego/Koop move…it might actually be something. I went, with a few guys in tow. I tried to separate cleanly, but that never happens for me when I want it to.
We made it up, but the whole field was with us. We rode around for a bit, although I didn’t understand why we were in a rotating paceline, until I got to the front. I looked up and all of a sudden there they were, down the road. Somehow, at some point, someone decided to let a wheel slip away, and we were dropped. 11 of us.
If I were a stronger rider, I would have simply dropped the hammer and brought us back on. But I’m not. So I gave it a shot, took a little pull, then swung wide. Hatchmap bridged up by himself, which left us with 10. I heard my mom cheering for me a bit, the rest of the crew was just sitting at the sidelines watching as we silently imploded. Chanee and all.
FGX and the gotham dude dropped out early on, which left us with 8. Brendan had surgery recently, which meant a bad winter, and the Zach(k)’s were up the road, so he was out. 7 of us could work. Then there were two Brauer guys who were simply geezering it up, playing cute because they had 2 guys up the road in the main field. I wasn’t so quiet when I let them know how I felt about them riding us into being dropped. Discord in the chase meant there were now 5 of us working. John and Jared from DNK, Mattie, Rich and I.
Apparently, during all this time, Zach continued attacking the main field, although our race was focused solely on reattaching ourselves. Regaining contact. Remaining alive.
We chased hard for the better part of 20 minutes, but the lulls were horrible. After one of us 5 pullers pulled off, the chase would come to a halt until one of us could work our way to the front and get things going again. Namely, Sedlak with his constant motivational “attacks”. They worked. I’d go with him, they’d chase us, finally doing some work again.
Fortunately, state champ John Sedlak was a vicious time triallist and a very strong rider, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have made it back on.
Eventually, we clawed our way back, with 10 minutes to go in the race. With our heart rates through the roof, we were looking for a fight. Or, I was. I moved straight to the front with the hopes of going with a late race move. Suddenly, 2 to go, 2 to go.
I find Zach’s wheel, Alan’s sitting on it. I come in on the inside, Allan says no. I try again, he means it. I back off. Try a different route. Didn’t end up so pretty. 1 to go, I’m in front of Zach. Not where I wanted to be. Somehow, I’m sitting 3rd wheel with 1 to go. Rego’s second. Headwind. I get low n’ aero. Someone pulls off. Rego’s in the wind. I’m sitting second. Too soon. Not yet. 2 turns to go. Rego pulls wide.
1. I need to get away from this random dude on a champ-sys bike and a cinelli kit.
2. I have no sprint.
3. Zach’s on my wheel.
I put my head down and take the inside line. I motor as hard as I can for as long as I can, petering out a bit on the homestretch. Zach uses me. He gets a large gap on the other Zack riding in a blue ribbon kit, not surprisingly.
1. 2. 3. 4. I start counting as they pass me. 5. 6. 7. 8. I start to lose count. Or consciousness. Or both. 9. 10. 11. I think I got 12th. I’m just glad my legs didn’t explode after all the chasing.
In the end, I took 10th. It’s a point. I’m in the GC.
Let the #professionallyamateur games begin.