We are coming to the point in the Tuesday night FBF series where the races start to resemble a Dollar Store Tour de France. Those vying for victory in the “general classification” (I have to giggle just typing that) start to race not for a night’s victory, but for victory in the overall standings. This means they don’t necessarily watch or care about what’s occurring in the race, as they are paying too much attention to the racers that are close to them in points. I know what this is like, as I’ve contended for (and won, boom!) the overall victory in year’s past—and in a word, it sucks.
It sucks because you have to show up every week for God knows how many weeks in a row, which is harder than it sounds. You have to not take any vacation days that land on a Tuesday for the entire summer—which is really popular with family members. Then you have to count every point, watch your competition and hope that you don’t have a mechanical issue or an incident that keeps you out of the points for a week. And as trivial as winning an amateur bike race in the middle of nowhere sounds, it’s still stressful. I knew that I would be away for extended periods of time this summer, so contending for the overall wasn’t even an issue for me. I had the yellow outfit for a week, and if I didn’t build a big margin before taking time off, there was no chance I’d hold those clothes. I didn’t build any margin whatsoever, so my yellow clothes came off.
The yellow ensemble has come to rest on Cesar A of Triangle Cyclists, and I think he’s beginning to see how much being in yellow sucks. You get followed relentlessly. People expect you and your team to chase things down. And the clothes get dirty really easily. It almost makes racing not fun. Also adding to the un-fun-ness is the fact that some people know what’s going on in the overall, and will look to take advantage of that knowledge, and when I say “some people” in this case, I mean me.
For instance, I know that James J has been beating Cesar in the field sprints. That means that Cesar needs to get away to maintain or increase his lead. I also know that he usually has about 3 or 4 teammates racing with him, so any moves without him in them would get chased down by his team. For me, developing a strategy was pretty easy. I’d sit back and let Cesar’s team make the race, because he needs to get away, and if I were to attack the race, I might risk Cesar and a teammate countering my moves and getting away like last week.
So I sat right on Cesar’s wheel. All race. I tried a few fake jumps to see what sort of reaction they would prompt, and it seemed that Cesar had his team chasing me, which, while very flattering, doesn’t make any sense, as James is the one that’s the biggest threat to the yellow jersey. I’m about 30 points out of contention, whereas James is moving up quickly. If anything, I’m more of an ally at this point. Sitting in for the sprint will net me 3rd place in the most optimistic scenario.
So that’s how we rolled last night. I sat in, and was waiting for a promising attack. It wasn’t very windy, so odds favored a field sprint. I figured if all else failed, I’d take my chances and make a late move. To be honest, sitting in was not that difficult. My average HR was about 12 beats lower when compared to a typical race night. I stayed near the front and I had chances to chat and coast. It was all very comfortable. With about 4 laps to go or so, last week’s winner Greg B jumped and stayed away from our semi-race pace. I didn’t try to bridge or chase because it wasn’t I’m my best interest, because if I jumped I would be chased. I just sat in like most Tuesday night racers, waiting for a sprint that I knew I wouldn’t win.
Eventually the race wound down and we were on our last lap. I was still sitting near the front, and as we made our way past turn two, I took off. I got a gap and rode hard enough to turn my mitochondria to mush, but it was to no avail. I was caught about halfway between the corner and the finish. The entire pack passed by and I rolled in for DFL—but I’d rather go for it all and finish last than sit in for a sprint that I knew James would win. Greg B stayed away and took a fine victory for the second week in a row.
It was a revealing week’s worth of racing, but also tremendously boring. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can just sit in just to get beat every week.