Jun 19 2009
Tabor a couple nights ago. Thought I’d get one last hard ride in before TOE 50 this Sunday. Seemed to fit in well with a moderate taper-down. I’m trying not to underestimate TOE so I’d rather be too rested and lose a little time than too tired and blow up halfway through. From what I can tell, there’s an ass-load of climbing to be done.
Anyway…back to Tabor.
It’s a quick ride from home over there. So I headed out, got there & signed in, and then took off to continue warming up. This race is probably the exact opposite of PIR – it starts fast and furious up the hill and usually stays intense throughout the 8 laps. There’s no 1 or 2 laps to get your legs going. Getting to the start fully warmed up is important if you don’t want to get dropped off the back.
I skipped dinner with the family before heading over so I was a little hungry. I made things infinitely worse by riding near Flying Pie on Washington St. For the next hour, all I could think of was bacon pizza.
Got to the start and lined up with a few laps to go in the Masters race. Seemed like the 4’s had a smaller field this year. I can’t say how fantastic it is that the 4’s and 5’s are split into 2 races.
The first couple laps were pretty good. I took off up the hill on lap 2. I don’t know why. There wasn’t a preme. I just felt like it. It didn’t cook me but it took a few laps of sitting in to get my legs back. Once that happened, things started getting ugly.
In the lower categories, I think Tabor is pretty ruthless in exposing and exploiting ability and fitness. There tends to be yo-yoing of riders from the front of the pack to the back during the climb and descent. I’ve alwads found it important, and safer, to stay up sort of near the front.
Heading up the hill by the speed bump on Lap 6, I saw a space between a couple riders and took it. The one on my left, probably near the seam between the pavement and the gutter, moved over into me. Once he made contact, he leaned in and pushed me out of the way HARD. I then bumped the rider to my right. Nothign got out of hand. A couple WTFs! but no one went down. The rider to my right who I bumped into checked in with me once we got to the top. No harm, no foul. It’s all good.
Now for the last lap, it’s even more important to be somewhere up near the front. If you’re not in the top 10-12 or so when the bell lap goes off, forget it. The pack moves pretty fast from that point on and it’s tough to move up. Maybe on the downhill but I don’t think that’s a strategy you want to count on.
I was up there but boxed in about 2 deep in every direction, which is not a good thing. Heading down and around the reservoir things got squirrley again with another bump and run. It’s been a fast race and it’s getting tense. As we went by the gate and up the hill, all hell broke loose.
There’s always a few riders who take off way too early, pop halfway up the hill, and slow to half speed trying to hold on. Then there’s people who got caught 20 spots back trying to aggressively weave their way up through the pack. No one’s checking their shoulder for space. It’s a flippin’ free for all.
If you’re smart and patient, you *can* find a few seams there as the pack opens up a bit. Winning is out of the question but you can get a respectable finish out of it. The dangerous part is that, in my opinion, those people who took off way too early do not seem like experienced riders. Yes, we’re 4’s but I think a majority of the pack knows how far out to start an attack. So as the pack starts to swallow them up, a few of the people moving up pass pretty close on the left (for example). A knee-jerk reaction is to swerve a little out of the way…into the rider that is passing them hard on the right.
I got caught in one of these. More bumping. More swerving. Elbows getting thrown. I think at one point I had to put the brakes on so it was here that I checked my right shoulder, got out of the way, and shut it down. I don’t need to get hurt over this, especially sprinting for 15th.
That’s Tabor for you. Pretty intense night, more so than I remember from year’s past. I wonder if it’s just that the 4’s and 5’s are split up. I don’t know.
So TOE 50 this weekend. I’ll finish prepping the bike tonight and pack up for an early Sunday drive down. I’m hoping for a 5 to 5:15 time. I’ve put some great workouts in over the past couple months so I’m optimistic.