When you are successful in a race, honestly there’s not a lot to write about. Winning a race can be terrifically simple in—it’s the whole "execution" part that is difficult. But I am getting ahead of myself, let me first set the stage for last night’s Tuesday race at FBF. There was an unusual wind blowing (a headwind on the start/finish straight), and it wasn’t exactly the type of wind that would tear the race apart, but it would certainly make thing difficult for anyone who was on the front in the headwind. I discussed this situation with my fellow carpoolers, life coach Mihael and his teammate Andrew. We decided that the head ind would make things difficult, but it would take a lot of work to break the race apart, as some guys would be able to sit in during the headwind section.
With this analysis finished, we whizzed in the weeds, and made our way to the start line. The pace at the beginning of the race varied between lackadaisical and insouciant, and if there’s one thing I cannot abide in a race that’s insouciance. So I did a few "who wants to race" efforts to see who would jump off the front. After about four of these "dumb jumps", I finally was able to draw out a capable co-conspirator. It was my fellow commuter Andrew, who jumped up to me and called out with a short "Yo."
Last week I lamented the fact that I wasn’t able to get into a break with Andrew and "sit on the table grinder" at the front of the race, but this week I got my chance. (Although I would describe the sensation to be more like sitting on a spindle sander [try Google image searching that one] than perching on a table grinder) Andrew and I immediately started burning oxygen, red blood cells and sound judgement at the front of the race. If a break is to be successful, you have to really bury yourself at the inception, other wise you don’t get a big enough gap to discourage people bridging across. Thanks to the miracle of Strava, I can tell you that the first lap of our breakaway was the fastest lap of the race. This is how it should be—everyone the race is still strong and it takes a big efforts to get away. Andrew and I were in luck—we got away—but that meant we still had seven laps to go.
Seven laps is along time to be alone with your thoughts while you are trying to breathe through your ears and staring at another guy’s keyster. I tried to concentrate on the distance back to the pack and not think too much about Andrew’s keyster. I felt that the pack would get close through the accelerations for the green jersey sprints, but if Andrew and I stayed consistent, we’d keep our gap. I told Andrew that I thought the race behind us would surge, but we would be fine, and God bless him, he believed me.
The next seven laps were done in a metronomic consistency, there was only 9 seconds difference in our lap times over the rest of the race. We rotated and said almost nothing, because talking would’ve been, you know, hard. The laps counted down with the urgency of a postal worker returning from a bathroom break. I mentally cursed Charlie I and the lap counter each the we passed the finish line. We had a few moments during the race when the gap closed, but I felt that the pursuers would eventually let up and Andrew and I would maintain our gap. With two to go, the pack was getting closer, so we buckled down in the headwind section to keep our gap going. And when we heard the bell signaling one lap remaining, there was one last effort in the wind to keep the pack away.
We made our way through turn one and I felt more confident about our chances, we hit the tailwind and I knew we would survive. We still need to work until the line, but we didn’t skip any pulls. We hit the last turn, and my time on the spindle sander was over. I didn’t feel the need to sprint it out at the end, and Andrew won. That didn’t bother me, because in a break like that, you really feel like a co-winner anyway.
The tale of the Strava is below, you can see the highest speed is at the beginning of the break, followed by eerily similar laps after that, evidently, that’s how it’s done.