Last night was a mess.
It was supposed to be the second night of a double-header, but rain canceled the Tuesday race. I don't know if that set up nerves, confused the cycling gods, or if it just wasn't our night, but just 3 laps into our race, a guy I'd not seen before decided to battle hard for a pointless scrap of pavement on the left side of the road.
There was no break to chase, but the peloton was stretched a little longer than usual for so early in the race, and several of us were trying to close it up on the back straight.
I was charging hard up the left when he glanced over and shut me down. I had just enough room to duck around his back wheel and take the middle line, but lost all of my momentum and was setting up to protect my wheels going through the slight bend. As soon as I felt stable, I looked left to see two teammates trying the same run, and once again he pulled left, but way too late, and from only about 18" off the grass.
I heard the exclamations from the 2nd rider, then the unmistakable crunch of carbon and spokes. Matt was down. Over nothing at all, we had a rider down on the 3rd lap. I later found out that wreck took out at least 5 riders, including the series points leader.
Absolutely uninterested in locking wheels with that guy, I got off my ass and moved to the front, where Ted (RVS) recognized an opportunity to burn me up in the wind. Realizing the mistake, I fell off a bit and took up my usual post of 6th~10th wheel: close enough to see and respond to a break, but far enough back to let someone else do the work.
That plan held for only about 5 laps, when RVS tried to make a solid break on a prime lap. Fortunately, I was not the only FSR rider to jump, and one of their guys was unable to bridge, so the break failed, but it took a heavy toll on me.
Then another break, which I was content to let go until I heard "Adrian, go!" shouted from behind me. That one fell apart as quickly as it started, but constituted another wasted hard effort.
Then a couple of laps later another small break tried to form on the back straight, and I chased that down, bringing the rest of the leaders along. By this point, I was dangerously close to bonking and needed to fall back into line and focus my efforts on the final lap.
Only I didn't know what lap it was. The primes were rung late, and I'd lost count early on with the wreck. I glanced down at the Garmin, but someone had chosen that time to call me, so instead of a lap count, I got a phone number neatly displayed on the screen (fuck you, Garmin, for not making that an expiring notification--who has time to clear that in a race??).
The board said two to go, but for 4 of the last 5 races, the leaders have seen "2" when it should have said "1", and another dude I'd never seen was trying to take a flyer off the front. Failing to use all my tools (no bell!), I thought it was game on.
Phil was on the point running down into the hairpin. He started to back off halfway down the straight, but I begged him to go, which he obliged (sorry Phil!). Pulling around on to the back straight, he led me out for the first 3rd, and I jumped. I put everything I had into the jump with about 100' to the final turn. Coming through, I tried to stand to sprint, but the legs rebelled, so I sat back down and plowed out the hardest seated sprint my body would allow, and to my astonishment the howl of carbon grew more distant behind me. Surely they weren't going to let me win that easily?
When I crossed the line, I was so confident I'd won the race that it took a good second to realize the bell was ringing, and not for my amazing awesomeness.
But I'd spent everything. It was all I could do to even push the pedals. The field caught me before I even got to the hairpin, and by the time I made it back to the start/finish line, I was in absolute last place.
So now I've blown up two weeks in a row at Bryan Park. The first time was defending for my teammates, which was fun and felt contributory. This time was not fun, and likely cost Phil a shot at a good finish, too. My take-away is that I need to focus on running my own race. Two of my jumps last night were defensive, but my overall strategy was not, and it cost me.
I spent years teaching drivers the importance of ignoring what the other drivers were trying to do--that they had different goals, different horsepower, different whatever. Now it's time to instruct myself and hold myself to those lessons. I just have to figure out how to do that within the construct of a team effort.