It was a big weekend for the TEAM as Christina came away with 3rd as a General Contender (GC) in a stellar women's masters field. I won the GC in Men's Masters 65+.
The truth is that you can put a domestique in a yellow jersey (as I was this weekend) but you've still got a domestique.
Sure, I spent a few kilometers 'off the front' in the Sunday's only serious break. After taking the lead with a win in the Friday time trial, mostly I rode 2 days at the very tip of the spear, closing down attacks and breaks….sometimes before they even got going. The stuff domestiques love to do!
The Saturday road race was really fun. Franz Hammer (great name for a cyclist, huh?) went off the front at the start of lap 2. Even though Franz has about 30 national titles, I didn't take it seriously. He is 77 years old! However, he is Franz Hammer. Two minutes after I let him go, the attacks started. I quickly realized my problem……if someone bridged to Franz, it might be game over! After about 3 attacks, Roy Quade (BC, Canada), launched a hard effort to bridge and I could not/did not respond. As soon as Roy reached Franz, Doug Perry (at the time in second place) and I started talking about the risk as we stepped up the pace. Soon, I calculated they had a 25 second time gap so Doug (pictured here with me) and I started to get very serious. This was happening while pretty much everybody else set in. I was really in my element……during chases like this, I visualize myself as the world's greatest domestique.
I have known Doug for about 4 years. I like him and respect him as a person/racer. Soon, except for a couple of 30 second pulls from others, it was Doug and I, together in a fox hole. We chased, chased and chased. I think after about 12k, we finally caught the break. It was not without pain and suffering. It was really only two against two……the 8 guys still hanging on behind us had no value in this proposition.
We ended the day in a sprint finish…me third and Doug off the podium……one guy, who we never saw until about 300 meters from the finish, got 1st and Roy Quade was 2nd. The winner moved within 4 seconds of Doug! This did not set well with me. A guy sucks wheel with his podium spot at risk…..and then wins the sprint….hum???
Sunday in the Circuit Race, Doug needed help…..the threat was real as the dude in third could sprint. We contrived a plan to get Doug top intermediate sprint bonus seconds, only to fail. Doug's lead eroded to 2 seconds. I took the opportunity to ride off the front for about 4k after the bonus preme. After I was reeled in, I talked with Doug about the ending plan. Doug agreed.
We rounded the final turn about 1.1k from the finish. I had already been on the front for 1k. Doug was glued to my wheel. We didn't care who was where……..we just had to stay in front. I hit the hill between us and 200 meter marker, out of the saddle in the drops. As I crested, I sat down and drilled it. Headed slightly down hill another 400 meters, nobody came around at a pace nearing 46kph. At just over 200 meters, I was again out of the saddle in the biggest gear, when Doug came around me in an explosion! He rocketed past me uphill to the finish.
Doug won the Circuit Race handily and secured 2nd in the GC! The 'threat' got second in the Circuit Race but remained in 3rd for the GC. I was 5th in the sprint with 'same time' and I won the GC! Mission accomplished. Doug was thrilled and extremely appreciative. I was thrilled and extremely appreciated.
After the race, I am pretty sure the rest of field never understood what happened? I think they thought it was my strategy to ride at the front for last 2K and then get swarmed? I don't think they ever understood I was leading Doug out…….not sure?
What I learned or re-learned by all this:
* I am team player. I have always been a team player. I get as much fun out of helping someone else succeed as in my own success. That is continually true with Christina, Bird and my family. It was the case with Doug this weekend.
* If you are a lead out guy, like me, you must have faith. I have done this many times only to find out my sprinter fell in a hole. Today, I never thought of that one second. There is no place for doubt when you need to put it all out there. You need FAITH……belief without evidence. Yes, I just believed Doug was there and would perform, although I had no evidence.
* I could wear the Yellow Jersey and still be a lead out man (I could have my cake and eat it, too). I love this one!
* When you get in a fox hole with a guy, you learn lot about him. I like what I found out about Doug. I suspect we will do this 'team work' thing again, if I have anything to say about it. I think this changed our relationship.
* When you are a 64 (65 race age) year old athlete and you win the biggest competitive event of your life, you are a very fortunate person. When you are a 64 year old guy, and you believe your best days are ahead of you, you are a very fortunate person.
See ya out there.