So, okay. CSI day one.
I feel sort of fresh. I took five days off the bike to help heal saddle sores, which seemed like they were all but gone by Saturday. So I was psyched. A little. I was feeling pretty good; a little snappy by the time we staged.
Then I line up for staging. Dead. Fucking. Last. There may have been one number higher than me in the entire field. Of 138 starters. Like 13 rows of riders to get through. It’s an absolute sea of people. Waves and waves of them. I can actually perceive the curvature of the earth in front of me. Dudes in the middle of the field are in a different time zone. It’s actually already Tuesday where the leaders are staged.
The Geekhouse guy next to me says that he usually has butterflies, and I tell him they’re not worth it today.
|That’s me – 447. Am I really that big? Holy shit.
Photo: Joe Aubin
So we start. The field is so fucking big. We’re just mowing down the course. Tape, stakes, shit is flying everywhere. Dudes are falling, pulling shit out of their bikes. I’m just arm to arm, wheel to wheel with the blob of racers, oozing through corners like drano for maybe a minute until we get to the run-up.
|I’m actually in this picture, just to the left of the black saddle in the foreground.
Photo: Roger Cadman
The run-up. Aaaand the race is already over.
I beat a small chunk of guys to the base of the hill, but it hardly mattered. We’re all walking, drilling each other in the heads, douchebags are pushing their way through, the usual. By the time we remount, the leaders are already warming up for Sunday. I gave up loads of spots remounting at the top of this hill each time – my shoes just clog clog clog with dirt. I haven’t had great luck with that this season.
|Things ultimately thinned out, and I maintained position when I wasn’t giving it away with clogged up cleats.
Photo: Roger Cadman
At some point, I knew the leaders were somewhere close behind me and I had a chance to get my ass to the line and not be lapped for the first time all season. When I figured that out I got on it pretty good. That was something to go all in for, even if I was totally popped on the last lap. At least I’d get to race it. I pulled it off, life was great, I even passed a few guys who typically beat me. 121/138 for my effort, and first lead lap finish, which was a season goal.
So then day two.
Day two was kind of like a race you wish you could un-race.
It was bad. It started, I thought, really good. I was staged DFL again, but this time I saw a lane right away at the start and went for it. I felt like I put at least a few rows behind me by the time we reached the start/finish stretch, and then I glance back. Nobody.
This happens to me A LOT. I swear I pass people and they fucking teleport through time and space ahead of me. Something else was going on today too. Last night my legs really hurt, which is rare for me. I was tired. I didn’t have but a fraction of what I had yesterday, and yesterday I really didn’t have much. Even still, early I was right on the wheels of the guys I beat yesterday, and I’m thinking “alright, alright, just hold these wheels, you’ll beat them again”.
WRONG! Dudes were just gone. Not even half a lap in, guys were just stamping out gaps and I had nothing at all to stay on. What the hell got into these guys today?
It was becoming clear that maybe yesterday’s post-race indulgences at the beer tent, and perhaps further indulgences later at the Hofbräuhaus were not terrific choices. I was a mess. Bad energy, making really bad bike handling decisions at times, it was all bad. Like nearly running over fences bad. Or riding directly over railroad tracks bad. Or riding a moronic cadence of 10rpm through the sandpit bad. I spent a whole lot of time alone, sadly spinning with everything I had, which must have looked like nothing at all. It sure felt like it.
I got lapped with a little more than 1 to go, and probably should have just pulled out. Instead, I rode a final lap of embarrassment until getting formally yanked; 119/127 and final finisher would be my distinct honor today.
Looking back on the season, it’s pretty clear to me that I peaked at Gloucester over a month ago. I felt like a maniac that weekend, and I haven’t had it since. The biggest race of the season isn’t necessarily the worst place to feel your best though, so I’m totally okay with that.