Looking back I can’t help but feel that I really messed this one up.
My last race up here was beset by terrible weather so I made sure to pack everything. But just because you bring everything doesn’t mean you have to wear it all at the same time.
I had driven up with a friend in his car. The parking lot at the Coxsackie High School was windy and cold. We rugged up and went to check out the finish which can be a little tricky. But after the warm up we got separated. As a result I wasn’t able to ditch a few layers before the start.
It turns out that old adage of wanting to be slightly cold on the start line is a good one.
I was slightly warm. Not good.
The 3/4 race consisted of four laps of a relatively un-technical 12 mile course. A few rollers, a couple of short pitches, one big descent and wind that blew straight from the gates of hell.
The first two laps were the fastest I’ve ever done there. About two minutes into the first I knew that I was in trouble. If there was a prize for the most overdressed rider I would have won it there and then. I was far too hot. I unzipped the thermal vest and rolled down my arm warmers. It was a little better but I’ve seen the pictures and I’m ashamed to say that I look an absolute mess.
At the end of the second lap I knew that I was going to get dropped in the crosswinds that plagued the top section of the course. The thought of having to ride 24 miles solo in the wind filled me with existential dread.
Rather than be spat out of the back I moved up about 15 places and then let a gap form in front of me the hope that I would take a few riders with me to form a groupetto. I admit that this was a very sneaky move but I was glad when my tactic worked. At least I was not alone.
The rear of the pack spilt up and over the next few miles a group of 5 riders re-formed to make a chase group. The group was well organized but moved just a bit too fast for me. I was unable to pull through a do a turn so I sat on the back hopping from wheel to wheel, sheltering from the wind. This did not make me very popular but I tried to explain that if the group rode a little slower then we could all work together. It made sense to me, but not to them.
In the end I was proved right as two of the riders who were berating me for not pulling were eventually dropped. They literally rode themselves out of the race.
I managed to hold on to the remaining two riders in the group until we got to the final five miles. I could cling on no longer and fell into the bike racing equivalent of oblivion – off the back and alone. In retrospect, I feel that I should have been able to hold on. It was a moment of mental weakness.
Overall I finished 36/50 (mostly cat 3s). It was tough and I made a basic error at the start but it was good preparation for Quabbin in a couple of weeks time.
I hope I don’t mess that up too.