We started early. After rising to a bagel, a cliff bar, and a cup of coffee, I was out the door and ready to race. With legs feeling strong, I lept on my saddle and took to the road amongst the Cat 3, Stage 2 Road Race. We took to Hinesburg Hollow at a very relaxed pace. There were no accelerations, no attacks and nothing all that exciting throughout the race. During the first lap, I decided I would try to gain some points for the King of the Mountain title, or KOM. However, not wanting to waste myself too soon, I held off and crossed the KOM line of the first lap somewhere within the top 10. Continuing up the climb and the back side of "Baby Gap," The pack stuck together like glue through the pothole and washed out descent towards RT116. Hearing flats left and right, I watched my line and was careful to avoid debris and potholes while descending at 50mph.
After reaching 116, a tailwind kept the peleton generally together. With some accordion action within the pack, we made it through the first lap fully intact, at which point things eventually got interesting, but not in the least bit exciting.
Lap 2 was more of the same negative racing. While there was shuffling and movement within the pack, the leaders found themselves without help from drafting riders. Those tucked in the slipstream didn't dare to take a gander at the head of the pack. I eventually followed a teammate up to the front where I found myself pulling through the next two towns. Even when I went down to a spin, there was no follow through from drafting riders within the slipstream. On occasion I would find myself with some assistance in the pull from other riders, but for no more than 30 seconds when they would look for another rider to take over the pull. Once again with no one taking the initiative, I found myself playing tug man with field and towing them through yet more towns, until the 10k to go mark of the KOM for lap 2 when the pace picked up just until the crest of the KOM, and then slowed back down.
While descending, some riders were dropped, but given an opportunity to catch back on when the field was neutralized within 5 miles of the finish due to a crash in the Women's field finishing sprint. Once the neutral was lifted, two riders almost immediately crossed wheels on the far right of the peleton. Almost identical to dominoes set on a diagonal falling pattern, the crash shook through the pack and out to the cows in the field. While I did not see the cows fall, I can only imagine the impact of us falling sent shock waves which toppled them on their sides in a fit of terror....
Okay, so maybe cows didn't fall over, but I did go down in the crash. Ignoring the blood and cuts, I was able to then rally with one other rider to begin out chase back to the field. We were then joined by another rider up the road who soon dropped off our pace, as I imagine out adrenaline was pushing everything to the limits, as I noticed a heartrate of 186bpm and a speed of 42mph without any burning and lactic build up. As we neared the tail end of the peleton we flew through yet another crash by the same hand of two crossed wheels. Zooming through, we sprinted out to the finish only about 10-15 seconds back from the main field. To my pleasure, I was then informed that because the crash happened at a distance so close to the finish, the crashed riders would be given the same time as the main pack (which was the whole pack).
While I did not contend for the sprint, I am still happy with the way I rode. I felt strong the whole way through and feel like I have plenty of leg left for tomorrows Stage 3. Although I suppose that will be tested during tomorrows finish.
Now, you may be wondering what happened to me and the bike the crash. I only got a little road rash on my elbow and hip, as well as a tire burn on my leg. Luckily, I got away without a head injury even with my stealthy ninja roll to avoid Supermanning across the pavement.
The bike got away with some scrapes and similar injuries as myself. My derailleur hanger was twisted, so when I got home I found a similar one and filed it to match the profile of my bike. Shifting smoother than before, I am ready for tomorrow.