Spring Stage Race III

Stage IV- Kulis Crit
I needed three points to get back on a podium I had no business being on in the first place. Craig Walker should have been there. Andy Duenow. Phil Hunter. Chris Knott... A whole lot of other people besides me. But, thanks to them not doing every stage, there I was within a shout of the podium. Usually when I inherited a spot on the Spring Stage Race podium, I had decent results that made it somewhat plausible. A string of decent finishes and maybe a win. This time? I was barely hanging on.
Just before the start I noticed the nose of my saddle was pointing down 15 degrees. That was about the only part of the bike I didn't touch when I rebuilt it. I had noticed myself sliding to the front of the saddle on the circuit race, but had chalked it up to being on the rivet because of poor fitness. I hit the back end of the saddle and popped it back up, but I knew it wouldn't last. It didn't.
They chucked a prime at us on the second lap, and I was tucked in the back, not interested in burning any of my soggy matches that early in the game. A gap opened up between the three that contested the sprint and the rest of us. I saw it open, waited for someone to respond, but before I knew it the gap was 50 yards and growing. I couldn't believe no one was closing it down, so I jumped and put my head down. My highest wattage for the entire race was during that initial jump (first time I've gone over 1200 watts in months), and I just kept pouring lighter fluid on my match book until I bridged.
I was the only one to make it, as the others flailed in the wind. As I latched on, Tom told me to sit in. Three of the nicest guys in the world gave me a free-ish ride for the rest of the race while they rotated on the front. When the next two primes popped up, Tom and Chris let me and Matt fight it out. Matt trounced me each time, because I just couldn't get moving.
I did the math as we circled the course. If I held on and finished last (fourth) in the lead group, I would tie for third. Finish third or better and I would be on the podium outright. I wheel-sucked even harder. Maybe I'd catch a break and surf my way into something.
We eventually lapped the other riders in the group, some of them multiple times. I ended up on a wheel I wasn't happy with, so I rode up to and off the front to scramble the order a bit. I sat up, drifted back, found my wheel, and settled in for the sprint. I knew I had to match the initial jump, which would likely come far earlier than I preferred. Then I would have to hold the wheel, pick my line, and throw whatever left I had towards the line. All five watts worth.
Everything was going somewhat well, and I started moving up the inside. Unfortunately, Chris picked the same moment and line. I yelled to him that I was on the inside, because I don't read this blog. I completely gave up on the sprint and was more interesting in not crashing at that point. I had about six inches of pavement to maneuver in, and that was rapidly shrinking. Chris' left shoe was precariously close to my front wheel's spokes, and it wouldn't have ended well for me. As it turned out, all we did was bump shoes before the line. I hope I didn't cost him a shot at the win with my girlish squealing, especially after all of the work he did on my behalf.
Fourth on the stage. Tied for third on points. The scoring officials did some sort of Boolean algebra and gave it to the other guy. Not that I'm complaining, because it wouldn't have felt right if it went my way. I did better on the mass-start races, but he crushed me on the hill climb and TT.
I got a fitness bump. After a day off the bike, my legs could push a little harder than before the race. I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm on my way to something better.
That's worth more to me than any podium in a race in a cycling backwater that nobody cares about.


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