TOAD Thiensville & Grafton
Turns out that there isn’t a whole lot of money in the not-for-profit “business”. While all you suckers were working Friday, I spent my 8-hour-a-week work cut (i.e. Friday’s off) up in Wisconsin racing my bike. Aside from snagging a couple of podium’s from me over the past two years, Nick Ramirez (Burnham) stole one of my hometown ladies a few years ago which means he ends up in Woodstock from time to time so Friday he and Bridget followed Katie and me north.
Long omnium’s like TOAD are interesting because they pull in a lot more people than most races, a lot of people you don’t know, and you never know who is able to show up at 2pm on a Friday and race a bicycle. The advice was given to me that the first few days are inevitably going to be fast; large powerful fields with fresh legs. Additionally, as I’m on the cusp of requesting my category 2 upgrade, the 2/3 fields of TOAD are a nice way for me to assess how my cure for impatient-fucktinitis is coming along.
After a mediocre warm-up I was at the line of the biggest crit field I’ve been in all year. My plan all along was to tail-gun at least the first half of the race (one of the better ways to cure impatient-fucktinitis is to force the issue, I guess). This ended up being one of the better decisions I made of the race (It actually wasn’t my decision at all, these were my orders). Sitting last wheel allowed me to take whatever lines I wanted, suck massive amounts of wheel, and gave me plenty of room to avoid the several (7…) wrecks in the race. This conserved a lot of energy; while I watched everyone else sprinting out of turns, I was able to ride under threshold. The only thing that would have made it more enjoyable would have been a piña colada.
At 18 minutes of 50, I decided it was time to start moving up. Not halfway through the race yet, but the course was a little tight and moving up wasn’t exactly easy. In 3 laps, I had made steady progress forward and found myself hovering around 10th. Staying up front was almost more difficult than moving up (which is probably why it was hard to maintain position). The front of the field was a lot harder on the legs due to the constant surges. The race stress was also worse, especially after a wreck on the front stretch in which I saw a bike tumble 30 feet down the road and 6 feet in the air.
Soon the lap count came up with 15 to go and started ticking down. A few people took forays off the front to no avail, the race had just been too fast in the beginning. At 7 laps left when I was trying to gain a few more spots on the front stretch and the field went from a semi-strung out line of 3 wide to a wall of 8 wide and slowed down. At the same time, we rolled across the line and a prime was announced. I couldn’t hear exactly what it was, I thought I heard “Sarah” and “training”. My momentum from moving up along with the field slowing down meant I could easily get a gap with no effort.
I generally don’t care about primes and I really didn’t care about this one but there were 7 laps left, the field had been slowing down for the last 10 minutes and had just slowed down a lot. I thought it wasn’t a horrible idea to see what could happen. As I passed the front of the pack I assumed that either someone(s) would come with me, or the entire field would chase me down within a few seconds. Neither happened, which was a little frustrating (in that no one wanted to play with me) and a little reassuring (the field didn’t care to chase me down). I don’t get why people are always so content to roll around in a fast group ride for $40 while all day long in other races (typically older guys, and the p/1/2/ fields) I see people attacking and counter attacking . 3’s? Sit in, all day. Everyone is Mark Cavendish, after-all. That or I just have a really bad case of impatient-fucktinitis.
At any rate. I was building an ok gap with minimal effort. At a minimum I would win this Sarah Lee Training boxed cake, or whatever it was. I would assess things after that and decide what my goal would be. As I crossed the line, the gap was about 8 seconds I calculated. I decided to keep going. I took turn 1 a little poorly the first lap but focused in on my breathing, my pace, and taking good lines. The next lap I gained 2 seconds after hearing an announcement from the stage that I had 10 seconds on the field and felt maybe this could work. 7 laps is a long time for me to go solo though. I began to get a cramp in my belly, which was not good and is the result of me eating too much too soon to the race. Noted for next time, for now…deal with it.
With 3 1/2 to go I looked at my speed and noticed I had a problem. I had been going 25.5 each time I looked at it prior, this time round, with my gut on fire and my legs getting a little numb, I was only going 24. I looked back and the gap seemed to be shrinking. I kept going for another lap but after turn one into 3-to-go I realized I was going to be caught (or dangled out to dry). Impatient-fucktinitis struck again…frustrated, I sat up and reintegrated with the front of the field. I kept a good enough position to finish in the money when in turn 4 on the last lap another bike went tumbling in front of me. I missed the wreck, fortunately, but now I had a 50 meter gap to close as we entered the final two turns. I tried to salvage the race but I just didn’t have the legs to close the gap in time, finishing 21st out of 61.
As I rolled over to where Katie and Bridget were, I saw PSIMET teammate Ryan talking with the ladies.
“Awesome job winning that trainer Tim!” Katie said. Bewildered I asked her what she was talking about. Turns out, the Sarah Lee Training Cake I won was a SARIS CycleOps Fluid 2–Yeah the $300+ trainer. Very cool. So for racing like a semi-moron, like Pavlov’s dog, the wonderful people at Saris and TOAD are now rewarding my impatient-fucktinitis. At least next time I’ll have stronger legs. Thanks for the badass prime TOAD/SARIS!!
Similarly to Nick, Joel Friedman has beaten me in just about every race we’ve ever been in together, and he too is dating a Woodstock woman (The water in Woodstock breeds pretty good looking women). This time he and I drove up to Wisconsin together with his Chevy packed to the brim. We got there with lots of time to spare, just how I like it. After registering and saying hi to some people we got a solid warm-up in and moved to the starting line. Today there were at least as many people, likely more (there were, in fact, 70+).
Paradoxly, Grafton was far less interesting of a race to report on but a far more entertaining race to be in. While Joel and I drove to Wisconsin we spent some time discussing why it is we do this–hours of our lives dedicated to training, lots of dollars spent on racing. One of the conclusions was the feeling of being alive, feeling your body at its limits, and potentially coming out on top of the world (or at least on top of 70 or so).
This race made me feel alive. The fans were cheering loud (and playing trumpets loud). Some cover band was jamming out to an old Joplin tune. My heart was slamming against my ribs. My lungs were rhythmically feeding my burning legs. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I’m spending it pouring on the pain with 70 like-minded dudes. At a certain point I decided that regardless of the finish, I had fun today.
The race was full-bore from the start. Long stretches of straight, wide roads, and a large & strong field meant that it was pretty unlikely anything would escape up the road. At least today there were a few real attempts. I tried to see what it was like in the back, and in the front. Today, the front was much easier. And so we went, round and round for about 43 minutes before we actually began playing chess.
With 8 to go I found myself about 20-30th wheel. I spent 2 laps easing up to the front. Going into the 2nd to last lap I began to fight impatient-fucktinitis, “Maybe we should attack as we cross the line. You can hold them off for two laps!”
“Shut up impatience. We’re going 32mph, I can’t ride 33mph for 4 minutes…idiot”.
Fine. We’re sprinting today.
The last lap was almost surreal. No one was going to move me out of my position. I didn’t feel anything except adrenaline. I began to realize that my fitness was helping me. People weren’t trying to move up on me, people were tired. I was golden. We were flying! As we started to set up for the last turn I was in prime real estate, maybe 7 wheels deep. This was perfect.
The wind on the front-stretch was coming from right to left and taking the outside line all day had been faster (and fortunately there were no wrecks, so it stayed safe). About 100m prior to the final turn, I sensed a large mass coming into me. A guy with at least 20lbs on my bumped shoulders. Nothing dirty, I don’t think, just the nature of the moment. It sent me towards the curb and into the dirty part of the road. I had to give up 7 or 8 spots before the turn, scrubbing speed and reorienting myself to get a decent line.
I managed to make up a few spots in the sprint and finished 13th out of 71, in the money. Not a bad day at all.