Bad Idea, Part II

This is my actual race report from the GS Andiamo Spring Criteriums Category 5 Cluster-Fuck.
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With the formalities out of the way, we lined up, got our instructions from the race director, and were off. The pack immediately went to full speed, which I kinda expected given the short duration of the race and the anxiousness of the pack. I sat near the back for the first couple laps, watching the riders and how they responded to each turn and surge. Scary. I reconsidered my positioning, jumping up a few positions on each straightaway as the already-gassed riders got gapped by the brake-surge riders.

Eventually I found my way up near the front, where a couple riders kept jumping off the front for a little while before blowing up and drifting back. I bridged to a couple of them solo, and despite the gap we had the riders sat up. Given the way the pack was riding, two or three strong riders could have stayed clear if they worked together. Eventually I gave up bridging because it was just wasted effort. They always came back.

Others would surge wildly to the front, try to reabsorb into the paceline, blow up, and drift back. The next lap they'd do it all over again. Again I reconsidered my location, as I would lose and then regain a handful of positions every lap. The surge-fade was getting scary as it progressively became more ragged. All of this happened within the first ten minutes of the race, and I was thinking I should have opted for a group ride on the Ditch instead.
  
Riders were getting dropped and lapped, but the race director was not pulling racers (so they would get credit for the finish). The clinic had covered where to ride if you got dropped, and for the most part lapped riders were sticking to it. With the pack split, I took up residence near the back to avoid the swarm.
  
Then the stereotypical Cat 5 moment happened. Halfway through the race we caught a lapped rider in the "dangerous" corner. The front rider stopped pedaling. The next guy sat up. The third guy touched his brakes. The fourth guy laid them on a little more. By the time it got to me, the pack was fanned out across the turn and I had nowhere to go. I tapped the brakes and did a quick nose stand, kicking my rear wheel to the side about a foot. That was exciting, especially for those behind me. Nobody went down, and polite profanities were exchanged. Mine were delivered as we passed in front of the officials, and I heard the phrase "sanctionable offense" the next time we passed the start/finish. I was beyond caring, as this was a direct threat to goal 1 (Keep all of my skin) and I was pretty sure the chances of another USAC-sanctioned race lining up with my vacation plans anytime in the next ten years were next to nil unless I planned the entire trip with one in mind. That never happens.
  
I could have quit right there. My interest in the race was pretty much killed in one turn, halfway through the event. Instead, I kept riding because of my second goal (Get in some intensity). I rode steady, not closing gaps or doing anything more than I had to in order to stay in contact with the front. I let gaps open before the turns so I could drift back up to the leaders at the exit. I was going to finish, but I had decided I wasn't going to contest the sprint.
  
Then the bell lap happened, and without thinking I moved up to fourth wheel for the sprint. Despite everything I'd seen up to that point and my decision not to contest, instinct took over and I slotted in where I would want to be. As we exited the final turn, the riders in front of me began swerving, weaving intricate patterns across the road as they charged for the finish. Holding your line in a sprint wasn't covered in the clinic, although I doubt it would have mattered at that moment. I was immediately reminded of my first two goals, so I rode steady to the line. Three riders sprinted by me for all of the glory that 4th through 6th place in a Cat 5 crit would bring. Good for them. 
  
Seventh works for me, with a side order of intact skin.
  
During the post-race debrief, I got dressed down by a disapproving female coach for my language. She said I could be disqualified for it, to which I laughed and said, "OK." Whether or not I got credit for the race (or clinic) did not matter one bit to me. That seemed to upset her, and I realized I had stepped over a line. Lots of kids and families in the area which might not view my nuanced communication style as something positive. She seemed more upset about the language than the incident that inspired it.
  
I sought out the race officials and asked to be disqualified for the offense. I don't need the points, somebody else could have taken the coveted 7th place finish, and I would have served as an example for future foul-mouthed miscreants. The officials laughed it off, and we had a nice conversation about the program and the various disciplines they're supporting. 
  
Again, it's a great program with laudable goals, so hopefully they'll continue to grow. I think they're doing it right, building from the ground up with a focus on the development of young riders. That's the future of any sport, not a bunch of old guys with more money than talent.
  
Now I just have to remember to watch my mouth around civilized folks- present company and bike racers excluded.

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