Second place feels like a win

It is late Sunday as I write this. I’m sitting here after the Things Three have gone to bed. It is time to reflect a bit on the day and give a report of the race. My legs feel happy… and so does my mind. It was a good day.

Field sprint 02-28-2010

Photo by Eddie Helton -

The day started kind of harried. I had to get up and get everything ready to go so that I could make it to Sunday School on time. I’m teaching a series and the class started at 9:30 AM. The morning service started at 10:30 AM and I figured I would be starting for home shortly before noon. That gave me just a small window to get home, get ready, and then make it to the start at 1:05 PM.

Pastor preached a little shorter so I was actually on the road home before 11:40 AM. Because I had everything ready, I was able to make it to the race with time for a 15 minute warm-up. The fact that things worked out better than I thought they would had me more relaxed on the start line. I was ready to roll.

I’ve mentioned before that I simply do not race well at Donaldson Center. The simple reason is the fact that I have always worked way too hard out there. I determined that today I would not show my nose on the front until the very end. Sure, that meant I was risking a breakaway, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

Well, I did it. Of course, it made the first three laps very boring. It was so tempting to want to stretch the legs a bit or to go up front just to get us moving a bit! Instead I played games… How little can I actually pedal? How long can I go in my small ring? (Two laps) It also gave some time to chat. Other than that, those first laps gave me nothing to report.

During the third lap, we were warned that the Pro-1-2 field was gaining on us and that there was a potential we would be neutralized to let them around us. At that time there was a rider off the front within our sight. For a while it appeared that we were going to avoid being overtaken. However, we didn’t escape.

My teammate Billy moved to the front and we did pick up speed for a bit, but no one seemed to want to help him. Again, it was tempting, but I was keeping my eye on Jonathan Leifer. He was the one ahead of me in the omnium and he also had beat me at the line Saturday. I wasn’t working if he wasn’t!

However, when the official’s vehicle came around us, I realized that we might be about to be neutralized. I wanted to make sure that I was in a good position for any restart because we wouldn’t have much time to get organized afterward. Turns out I was pretty happy because they did slow us and at that point, Billy, Matt, and myself were right there at the front.

The only bad thing is that when we were neutralized, the one guy who was off the front was not. Basically at that moment we were all racing for second. Again, it was the risk I was willing to take, so I couldn’t complain. I would do my best for second.

I won’t go into all the politics of it, but before we ever reached the finish line the decision on what to do was changed a couple of times. We had already been told that the race was called. At that point, I was in seventh place. I was actually pretty satisfied with that. 1) I was ahead of Leifer, so I knew he didn’t gain any points on me, and 2) seventh place would be my best ever official finish at Donaldson Center.

Then we were told we would race one more lap to decide 2nd. Then we were told we would not. Finally, as we crossed the start-finish line we were informed that indeed we would have one more lap to decide the remaining finishing order.

At first I was excited to see the field pick up speed and it looked like everyone was going to let out their frustrations with a fast final lap. Then I was scared as I considered the adrenalin and frustrations of the riders. It was time to keep my eyes and ears open to avoid problems.

It didn’t last long and we were back to our nice Sunday evening group ride (we averaged 22 mph for the race – on a typical A group Tuesday Night World Championships ride we average 25 – 26 mph). I continued to teach myself patience and kept trying to stay out of the wind and trouble. This was going to be a field sprint, boys.

After we crossed the railroad tracks, things started to accelerate a bit. I tried to ease into my power so as not to shock the legs too much. I stayed close to Leifer and then as we moved into “the dip” I started to look for ways to advance my position.

I was nervous because I was a little farther back than I wanted to me as we began the final climb toward the finish line. About two kilometers out, I got in behind Billy and Louis. The field was starting to stretch out and the line was starting to form along the yellow line. Right ahead of me on the white line was the big dude that had bumped me out of position yesterday. He was coming back fast, but in front of him was open road.

“Louis, once we get around him,” I called to my teammate, Louis Sanchez, “Go!” We made the move and Louis pulled us closer in to the group. However, it gave me a clear view of the front. I could see the Globalbike boys lining up a lead out for Wade Greene. At this point, we were about 1K out and I was in 20th.

I wanted to be up in fifth or so before we reached the 200 meter line. So, for the first time in the entire race, I put my pedal down hard. “Coming on the right!” I heard people call as I spurted up toward the front of the field. However, instead of going to the front, I settled in to side draft off of the rider right behind Wade.

For a moment, I was able to recover a bit. Then at the 200 meter mark Wade made his move. I went with him and then around him. This time (unlike Saturday) I made sure I was in a gear that felt just a tad too big.  I set my eye on the line and went all out.

I heard a commotion behind me and people talking about the riding habits of a particular rider. Then I heard nothing except the swoosh, swoosh of my own tires as the finish line grew closer and closer. This time, no one was inching up beside me. I was putting out over 1000 watts and nearing 40 mph.

Once again, I was the first loser, but it really felt like a win. As a matter of fact, I’m glad I didn’t throw my hands up in the air in celebration! The winner in the break just wasn’t on my mind at that point.

Still, this second place really did feel like a win because of the odd circumstances. It could have played out very similarly only after we brought the breakaway rider back into the fold. However, that is not what happened and that’s racin’.

Second place, in a way, was winning. It moved me into 1st place in the overall scoring for the series with only two races to go. I believe those races set up well for me and I’m looking forward to defending that lead with my mates.