Raced the Historic Downtown Wake Forest Criterium this past weekend and received a rude awakening. [pause for laughter.] People say that puns are lazy writing. But that's just a lazy response to a pun. Regardless, I'm a lazy kind of racer--the kind who doesn't mind working hard in races (I actually dislike races where not much is going on enough to make a lot of stupid attacks), but also the kind who can rarely be bothered to actually organize and get himself to a race. So much planning. And the driving. And what if the weather's bad. And so on.
But Wake Forest was too close to disregard and the rainshowers looked like they'd clear up by race time (I was watching the radar until the last minute, still thinking about bailing out). As it turned out, it didn't totally stop raining, although the brunt of the downpour missed historic downtown. So, adding wet roads to a 4-corner, Cat-3/4 crit with one downhill turn gave me reason to worry. After a sketchy start with lots of braking, the field strung out. I still couldn't figure out the line to take through the downhill turn. To quote Cadel Evans on his appraisal of his descending on Monte Grappa, I was "a disgrace".
In addition to manipulating the front end of the bicycle, I wasn't feeling great working the back end either. Not too much snap, so after a test attack, I decided to chill out a bit and observe. I thought I was riding somewhat smart, near the front, efficiently. But at some point 3 or 4 guys opened up a gap, probably right after a prime, and some strong looking dudes from some strong looking teams represented, it looked like a good one. So I chased. Me and one other guy, actually. Caught out in no-man's land for about 4 or 5 laps. We almost bridged up, but I started fading and wasn't getting much help from my bike driving skills. So we ended back in the pack, where I resigned myself to stick it out for the bunch sprint. Second-to-last side was a short uphill stretch, which suited me alright, so I hit the last corner with decent position. Held my position, passed some dudes (including i-Sac from one of the Bike Chain's satellite locations), but out of nowhere got pipped by Bitter Dose's Brendan. I hadn't seen him since the startline. He had ridden a very conservative, but smart race and threw in a solid sprint (not that beating me in a sprint makes you a good sprinter).
9th place overall, which I'm fairly happy with. No cash or fabulous prizes. No upgrade points, so I'm likely destined for yet another season battling it out in the Cat-4s, which, in all seriousness is where I'm realizing that I probably ultimately belong.