Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ontario 5 - 14th-ish

Holy smokes, I knew it was going to be hot up at Ontario today. What I didn't realize was that Ontario seems to have been moved onto the surface of Mercury. As we waited for the start of the race, one of the guys beside got a reading of 112 degrees from his bike computer. My feet were about ready to burn in my shoes as we waited for the race to start.

I was a little nervous heading into this one. It was a full field of 75+ guys and as we all know by now, there always seems to be at least one crash at Ontario, particularly in the category 4/5 race. A full field like this only means more opportunity for chaos.

Empirical evidence over the past 3 races I've entered, has shown that I'm not going to be sprinting or jumping away from anyone for a while yet. So my plan going into this race was two pronged:

1. With 15 or 20 minutes to go, if the opportunity presented itself to get away in a break, give it everything I had to see if I could make it work.
2. If the race was heading to a bunch finish, get one of my teammates to the front for the finish.

Unfortunately I failed in both attempts. The break opportunity never really presented itself. There were a few moments when one guy or another was 5 seconds ahead of the field, but I was always jammed in the middle of the field when this happened, so it was impossible for me to try to get up the road and join in on the fun.

As far as the helping a teammate goal went, I thought I had things all set up just perfect with 2 laps to go. I found one of my teammates right next to me with 2 laps to go. I told him to work with me to get to the inside of the course and get on my wheel. My plan was to position us in a nice spot on the inside for the final lap. With the wind blowing from the southwest, being on the inside and out of the wind is a major advantage on the home stretch of this course.

With 1 lap to go we were right on the inside, about 20 riders back. A little further back then I wanted to be, but I knew that some riders would start dropping off in front of us. I also knew that I didn't want to be right on the front like I was last time with Alcino. That failed miserably as I couldn't hold it long enough at the front and when I pulled off Alcino was right in the wind with 1 lap to go. This time as we headed into the wind with half a lap to go our nice position on the inside suddenly evaporated. We didn't fall back so much as a surge went up the inside resulting in us now being surrounded on both sides by riders. My goal of surging up the inside for the final half lap to get Michael to the front was dead.

So at this point my focus shifted to trying to stay safe through the corners and doing the best that I could to finish well. With everyone trying to surge toward the front and people not keeping their front wheels clean through the corners, the inevitable finally happened. As we came through the final turn, two guys came together right in front of me, bounced off each other and hit the ground hard. I was lucky enough to be able to ride right through the gap that lay between them and started to hammer it for the finish. I passed a few people along the way and believe that I got 14th. Nothing to hold a parade over, but certainly a good result for a guy who is making due with only 1.5 legs.

By the end of the race I was completely done. Riding hard in 110 degree heat for 40 minutes is a tough, tough gig.

I should have some pictures and a movie or two to post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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