28 March 2005

Race Report: CRCA #1, 26 March 05

Echelon Makes CRCA Debut

Submitted by Eric Faber

The four Echelon riders and about 20 others were off to the races shortly after 6 a.m. Definitely warmer than the first three races I've done. It was good to see that bright colored orb called the sun make an appearance for once. It didn't help Craig, who admitted he had not dressed warm enough, but his "Gardening Gloves" did look fetching. Because he was cold, he warmed himself up by pulling off the front at the beginning of lap 2 and had (in his estimation) a 25-second lead! He did get pulled back in on the west side somewhere in the W. 80s on the second lap. Joe let him slip into a slot so he could catch a much needed breather.

The peloton stayed pretty calm and well behaved. I was beginning to relax. When relaxed, two things happen. First, a favorite tune will just pop into my head and provide a soundtrack to the ride. Today, it was Pink Floyd's "Summer '68" from "Atom Heart Mother". Second, I found myself more confident about moving up to front when I had to and knowing that if I ease off and drop back, I could get back up to front at will. This knowledge helped me relax even more.

At the beginning of the final lap, Konstantin Dzhibilov of the Skyline team pulled off the front at the start/finish and Craig pulled off with him and they were away for quite a bit. Another Skyline racer, Jeff Pellis, guy caught up with his guy and Craig and traded pulls, but eventually Craig blew up and was done, cooked! Gutsy Craig! I admire you for it. The two Skyline guys stayed up by about 30 seconds, but on the west side of the final lap, the pace did pick up precipitously and the group got a lot more nervous and twitchy. One guy who was deeply hunched over his drops blatantly cut in on me and then enterered deep into the bike lane shortly after the final roller. Joe and David had an "uh-oh" moment when they almost locked their bars together. This was David's second race of the season but he stayed in the pack and always managed to move up in the field when it seemed (in my opinion) that he was tiring and might drop back.. Good Job Dave for hanging tough throughout the race

Because I felt good and relaxed, my concentration was better than the three previous races, and I was able to mark all the riders. I always kept track of Joe, and I knew this tall lanky Gotham guy on a red Specialized was good, so I kept close to both of them. When I found myself trailing back a little on the turn from CPW to CPS, I made a decision to get up right to the front so as to avoid the tightest corner, at the Plaza hotel carriage entrance. This area gets bottlenecked and causes that annoying accordion effect where you slow to 16 mph and then have to get off the saddle and sprint back to 21mph. I avoided this altogether and kept myself in the front group and felt Joe on my wheel. This is where I noticed Craig on the far right side totally spent, soft pedaling and looking to get himself back in the main field after losing the battle to stay out with the two other guys. Overall, I felt pretty good but had to drive hard to keep with the pack. I clung to Joe's wheel as he vocally spurred me on. We had already passed the women's field before Lap 4 and now we passed the 2 leaders of the women’s field at the carousel. From there the pace got faster and harder by the second.

In the past week I had "gone to the videotape" in my head and recounted where it all went wrong on Cat's Paw last Sunday. I got off the saddle at the entrance to Cat's Paw. (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!). This time I drove hard, but bided my time in the saddle and drove hard in the drops until the finish line was a straight shot. Joe jumped out of my air stream and pulled ahead of me, then I got off the saddle and drove hard and strong until I was literally honking like a goose from the effort! I passed at least four guys who had made the mistake I made last week--and even caught and passed Joe with about 25 yards to go (Sorry, Joe). Joe later said he didn't really seem to have the full strength to drive off the saddle in the sprint. I will say though, that Joe raced a very smart race and seemed to always be in the top group of five except for the two that got away. I looked in front and counted myself 8th in the pack (10th overall) with Joe right behind me.

Dzhibilov and Pellis of Skyline stayed away for 1st and 2nd place.

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