Yep, another race report. I know, I'm lacking for valid content so in lieu, I'm falling back on a report. Last Sunday was the Norwell Circuit race, a fairly local and very fun event that is put on by the south shore folks at Mass Bay Road Club and our friend Chris Constantino. This is a great event put on by great folks. We should all try and support it in the future and if possible, volunteer when the call comes.
I've done this race a few times in the past though of recent it seems there has been a conflict. This year we have been sticking with convenience winning out, and as such, Norwell was the easy winner. With good weather and a close race, we made the easy 45 minute drive south to the race, arriving in plenty of time to secure a good parking spot. Cathy was racing with the women this year for a change and as such, her race was the first of the day. We picked up our numbers, got dressed and headed out for a couple of preview laps. Same old course in roughly the same condition as last time.
The women's race had a ton of NEBC members in it and they put together a team plan for the race. A couple of the women were looking for good results so they all decided to help make that happen. The pace for their race started off pretty high and it was quickly evident that there was some disparity in the field as some women were getting shelled off the back pretty much every lap. The finish hill tends to do that as gaps tend to form naturally going up it. A few laps in a break established with 3 or 4 women including an NEBC woman. Behind that was a chase group of a number of other teams, all marked by a number of other NEBC women. Behind them was another group with the remainder of the pack. The finish played it in a mad sprint up the hill with NEBC handily getting the win in the break of 3 women, then also taking the field sprint for 4th as well as a handful of other top ten positions. Cathy raced for her teammates and had an excellent time doing so.
Later in the day I lined up for the Men's Masters 35+ race. NEBC had a good showing in the field with Scott and Joe as well as myself. Our goal as always was to be combative while also being opportunistic. Many of the guys from the other squads were there as well, though a bunch of them had already done the Masters 45+ race preceding this race. The neutral start, which took you from parking at a school, across the road and out to the course, was interesting. Teammate Scotty was on the front and I was behind him. We were doing 25mph and the pace car was not slowing down at all. We got onto course and the race commenced but we remained in that position and at that pace all the way into the foot of the finish climb. Scott eased up a bit and I decided to see if we could get it started so drilled it up the climb, hoping to string it out and break it up some. This resulted in the first break of the day. At first it was just a few of us but gained momentum with some of the bigger names joining in on the fun. We worked it for a while and I really though we may have a chance but alas, it was not to be. That hurt though.
The next half of the race was a blur of attacks and failed break attempts. We had teammates covering everything and instigating a bunch of stuff as well. This made for a hard race with countless hard sustained efforts. It also made for a whole lot of got clean racing for those who chose to do so. Most of the more powerful guys were happy to mix it up over and over and over again. Real racing, not that pussy sitting in the pack tail-gunning until the last lap and sprinting it out at the end. Sure, that may be how to win a race but there is more to racing than winning, IMHO. If I was getting a paycheck based on wins then sure, the priority would change. I'm not. I'm there to fight.
The move of the day though came with three to go. JB came to the front on the downhill with Billy S. frantically in tow. As we hit the corner to the false flat the pace lifted. It kept lifting until I was barely able to hold Bill's wheel. All the way to the finish hill at which point Billy killed it up over. I strained with all of my might to make it over with the small group that had a gap. We came back together and worked it fairly well for what should have been the winning break. Bill and I were the last holdouts trying to stay away until just before the turn to the finish hill. Unfortunately, we got swarmed and in the mayhem, mayhem ensued. People who had seen no time at the front all day sprinted by me only to literally come to a standstill half way up the hill. Sammy was skipping and popping his drivetrain. I weaved my way around him and a few others and managed to finish top 20 in the melee. The winner however was one of the most aggressive and hardest working tough guys out there, Billy Y. The man wins more races a year than I enter. Good for him.
Although the result wasn't stellar, I was happy with my performance for a number of reasons. I was able to initiate moves and make stuff happen. That is a change over past years as it means I'm starting to be viewed as a potential contender by my peers. This is good and bad but I'll take it as a legitimization of my ability. I made it into all of the moves that day. Literally, I found myself in the right places at the right times. Not an accident of course, it means my reading the field and sensing the mood is getting better. I've been trying really, really hard this year to dig that little bit deeper to hang, or to go or whatever. Mental toughness to counter and overcome the physical pain. I'm good and riding to the point of discomfort but really need to delve into the realm of being uncomfortable and dealing with it. There were a number of times that day when I dug deeper. Slowly but surely I think I'm making some progress at this thing. Will see.