When the winds blows, the racing at FBF can be very simple. If you go to the front of the race in the windy sections and go hard, people are less likely to follow you. That’s it—strength against strength and the rider who can ride stronger longer wins. Personally, windy nights are a welcome respite from the more tactical and sometimes crabby racing that happens on windless Tuesday nights. When the wind blows, I go the front and pedal hard and see what happens.
Last night I also had the added luxury of having teammates Warren and Aaron along, and since between the three of us we have the sprinting capabilities of 1 and 1/2 people, we decided to make the race less crowded by attacking. And so we did. Aaron got away for about a lap early in the race, and Warren escaped on more than one occasion also. When we hit the wind between turns three and four, I tried to come up on the good side of the wind and be near the front in case opportunities to display my mightiness presented themselves. And on lap 5, an opportunity arose.
I was sitting on my perch near the front when there was an increase in the pace, and as the riders in front of me pulled off, I jumped into the wind. This split the race apart and I took along a rider from Echelon with me. I worked for an entire half lap to establish a split, and by turn two, we were away. FBF, when viewed from above, is a trapezoid, with the straight from turn one to turn two the longest segment and the straight between turn three and four the shortest. The finish and the back straight are the same length and about a half mile long. When breaking away from a race, it’s best to have a finish or back stretch’s worth distance between you and the field. Being out of sight of the field on those straights tends to discourage chasing. Getting that distance was my goal on the first lap of my attack. I was working so hard that I eventually dropped the other rider that was with me, but I was desperate to get that distance, and after about a lap, I was close to it. I crossed the line with four to go and Charlie signaled that there would be a green jersey sprint on the next lap. Which meant there’d be a surge behind me, but hopefully the sprinters would jump and then rest, and after the dust settled, my gap would remain consistent.
That didn’t happen. I had three laps to go, and the pack had made up some ground on the sprint. But I wasn’t going to give up, because, you know, why race bikes at all… I decided to go all out with three to go, maintain my gap with two to go, and mangle myself on the last lap and roll in victoriously. In the beginning of the race, according to Strava, we averaged 24.5 mph, after I jumped away, my average speed was 24.4 mph. Which, if you are good at math, meant that I was off the front but also off the pace by a tenth of a mile an hour. That’s not a victorious pace, which is a shame because I had a really nice finish line celebration planned. After my three-ish lap effort at a slightly slower pace, the mathematics bore themselves out and I was caught with a lap and a half to go.
I huddled into the pack and tried to catch my breath. The inevitable sprint finish seemed to loom ahead, and I tried to rest to get myself a minor placing and some points for the overall. Warren and Aaron worked at the front for me, but I was a box of burnt matches. I tried to get up and sprint, but there was no sprint in me. Rob B got the win in a field sprint, I got a few pats on the back. I rolled back to the start and immediately started scheming about how to get another half mile an hour out of my pack of matches.