Tuesday, June 28, 2011

master and commanded

Does anyone have any interest in what did I do this past Saturday? If so, here's a hint:

Partied with a bunch of sweaty old guys in tight clothing who spent a lot of time shouting at each other? Yes, you guessed it: Master...master...master of bike racing.

Pardon my stutter. I meant to say masters' bike racing. This was my first time racing with the old guys. They say the old guy's races are supposedly better than a normal cat-4 race because it's more tactical and the bike handling is better. This may be true, but I didn't really notice the difference. It's probably since I've raced a lot of these guys in the "B" races at local crits or fast rides. And yes, the guys were solid bike handlers and the entire pack didn't swarm on every single move anyone took off the front. And yes, I did get caught working in the wrong breaks, missing the right break, working in the main field trying to bring back the right break, and missing the jump across from the main field to the right break once we nearly brought it back. One part of me says that I got out-foxxed by savvy veteran riders. One part of me says that I got unlucky. One part of me is aware that I didn't know my competitors and wasn't watching the right guys at the right time. These are all true, but I think in reality, I was outdone by a lack of patience. Case in point: a few of us in the main field were working, seemingly futilely, to bring back a 12-man break. When it surprisingly narrowed from about a minute to about 10 seconds, a couple of dudes who had been doing no work and weren't protecting teammates up the road, jumped across the gap and I think actually finished pretty well. Meanwhile, I was too spent to follow. Is this a stroke of genius on the part of these other guys? Possibly. But I think it's a certain type of patience. Not the type of patience that involves waiting for something they know will happen in a given race (the safe bet was that the break wasn't coming back). No, instead, waiting for opportunities as they present themselves in a given race. If the break came back, they'd jump on it. If not, they'd wait until tomorrow and try again in another race. I think that these guys race enough to know when to work and know when to sit out. They don't have the desperation of an ambitious cat-4 racer, scrapping for any upgrade point of free pair of overstocked socks they can win. Each race is just another in a long, somewhat unmemorable series of races. They may think about it later, but they probably aren't writing blog posts about it.

Nevertheless, it was a good learning experience and a good workout. Kudos to Jay (BCC) and Kent (Triangle Velo) for helping to animate the race and not throw in the towel when all seemed lost. All in all, it was more fun than a Metallica show. Now let's clear our heads of the previous musical interlude with something better.

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