Since my birthday is in November, 2013 will be a season of "barely legal" 45+ racing for me. Let me explain, for those who don’t have to worry about aging into masters racing, I will say say: things were better in my day, and you don’t know how easy you’ve got it. There, now that I’ve got that bit of crotchety-ness out of the way, I can really explain further. On every USAC racing license, you have your racing age, and your racing age is the age you will be turning during that calendar year. My racing age on my license is 45, but since my birthday is in November, I will be 44 the entire racing season—that’s like getting a free year of underage masters racing! During 2013 I get to be the fresh young face amongst all the older riders, and you can bet I’m going to take advantage when I’m racing barely legally.
The night before the race, I was perusing bike reg to post the upcoming weekend’s race for this website’s Hopeful Friday section (I do this free of charge, because I love you all, but you should seriously consider giving me a $5 bill the next time you see me, because I’m too proud to beg for money), when I noticed that there were 9 Wonder Wheel racers pre-registered for the 45+ field—comprising 42% of the total pre-registrants. As I am not a complete idiot, I surmised that they would figure significantly in the goings on during the next day’s race, simply because there were so damn many of them. I especially took notice of Doug O’s name on the list, as Doug is a motor and can hold a gap on a chasing field (that last sentence was foreshadowing, I’m giving you your $5 worth, no?).
I planned ongoing both the 45+ and 35+ races at Branch Brook, and I was going to use my barely legal status to try and put some efforts in during the 45+ race, because, you know, it’s racing. I arrived in Newark, signed up for my two races, and lined up with my ennead of Wonder Wheel companions. Shortly after that, things got tiring. Because they looked around and saw more of themselves than anyone else, Wonder Wheels sent racer after racer up the road. I tried to accompany most of these surges off the front, and I even initiated some of my own. This was probably unwise, but you know, bike racing…
After about a half dozen or so of these efforts, I drifted back to get some not breathing through my ears time, and that’s when Doug, crafty fellow that he is, left us behind. He went on to ride the rest of the race by himself, without any of the rest of us around to bother him. It must had been very peaceful. Back with the rest of the group, I put in two efforts to try and get across to the sweet wind of Doug’s slipstream, but I only managed to get about halfway across each time. We hit the two lap to go sign, and it looked like a sprint for second was in the cards. I decided to hang on Tony M’s wheel because he sprints well, and would be a good wheel to follow. But being dumb, I came off his wheel and positioned myself behind two Wonder Wheels and a third racer, who’s team name I shall not mention (because I am classy).
The Wonder Wheel in front pulled his teammate Jeff G, and when he pulled off, Jeff jumped, and then the racer in front of me inexplicably let a gap open, because he was either tired or bad at bikes. After cursing either out loud or in my own mind (I think it was in my mind), I came around the remains of this well positioned racer, and had no choice but to sprint for the line. I dutifully did then, and was passed by two other racers. Jeff took the field sprint. I ended up fifth, which was the last money paying place, and I hope to be able to use the points I gained to upgrade to the 55+ field for next week.
Here is video of my masterful sprint botching. (Video courtesy Chris C)
Race 2 35+
Three guys got away while I was still in the recovery period from my first race. They stayed away and we that were left behind were caught by the cat 4/5 race as they finished, a tremendously embarrassing situation. I’m so glad I upgraded to 45+ racing.