The plan for Thursday's crit was to ride in the pack and not go too deep. Get the legs warmed up before the Spring Stage Race and call it good. If you're there at the finish, maybe take a shot, but don't be a hero.
Didn't work out that way.
Seven minutes in, my rear tire went flat and squished violently from one side to the other in apex of the sharpest turn on the course, making awful sounds as it did so. I stayed up, rolled down the hill, verified that it was indeed flat, and started walking.
That tubular was brand new. It replaced the tubular that went flat on the Kincaid Circuit Race, a course less than two miles away. That's another tubular to add to the pile that will be sent for repair.
I walked back to my car, grabbed another wheel, and rode back to the course. Fifteen minutes after the flat I was back in the race with a real shot at victory. In my absence, Jens Beck had gone off the front, lapped the field, and had gone off the front again. The rest of the pack was shattered into small groups after the first prime. I bounced from cluster to cluster, until I ended up with the three riders that formed the futile chase group. They were just looking to not get lapped again. Sith Lord Bill Fleming and Stormtrooper Jim Winegarner were ganging up on the other member of the group. One would open a gap and the other would sit on the other guy's wheel as he was force to close. Not wanting to miss out on the fun of a group beat down, I jumped in and opened a few gaps as well. When the primes came, I took a dig or two to draw him out, then sat up and let everyone else scramble for points. With my superior engine in reserve, I was waiting until the last lap to erase my fifteen minute deficit. That's called strategic thinking.
Around and around we rode, lapping stragglers and avoiding being lapped ourselves. The final lap came, and in a magnanimous gesture that even surprised me, I didn't fire up the turbo and go for the big W. Instead, I rode off the front (fresh legs from a fifteen minute nap), pulled to the side, and watched the three-man photo finish. I'm still not 100% sure who took a distant second behind Jens. It really doesn't matter to me, since I got what I came for.
I just wish it didn't cost a tubular to get it.


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