I never really knew the term ‘marked man" until last week when friend kept telling me my "strategy" that’s been working so far in bike races would be a little less effective now that everyone knew what to expect.
"Whatever," I thought. ‘If they don’t let me get away easily, I’ll just make people suffer a bit, then get away later."
I was told by the local official in charge of license upgrades that I would need a podium finish on Saturday in order to upgrade for the Sunday race. Saturday I showed up to Mason Lake with Joe Brennan from Team Hagens Berman (That team also sports the Herriott Sports performance logo). He was racing Cat 4’s, but felt obligated to warn me that my name had been mentioned as one to watch out for.
I didn’t matter much. On the second lap (of three) I started making half-hearted attempts to break away, which sent the group from a gentlemen’s pace, to more of a steady trot. A few guys got away, and I bridged up. I lack the ability to sprint, so getting away meant dragging four brave soles for about five minutes. When I finally pulled off the lead the pace slowed significantly, but to our advantage we had four of six teams represented, so the pack was unlikely to chase us down. Still, I was feeling spunky, so with one lap to go I charged a hill and went solo. By the finish I had a 3 minute lead over the four others from the break, and nearly six over the field.
Fun times. Cucina Fresca had tried to box me in a couple of times, but their failed attempts gave me a false sense of hope that I could out-power their team tactics in the Cat 4’s on Sunday. If "marked" meant I could mess with people, then I was all for it.
Notice the tense of my last paragraph.
From the first lap of the Market Street Road Race in Ravensdale Cucina’s team plan was pretty obvious. The first time I tried to stir things up by charging a hill my meager attempt was shut down when a Cucina Fresca rider refused to pull through in a three man break. Cucina had seven riders who’s sole purpose was to make sure every pace line was shut down. It was really effective. I tried to counter it with smack talk (which is one of the thrills of racing with my head out of the water), but aside from adding humor to the ride it fell on deft ears. A few more times I tried to get the group to string out, but each time it was brought to a crawl by Cucina "we don’t pull" Fresca.
Needless to say, when it came down to a sprint, I’m inclined to just sit up. Not only am I horribly outmatched by anyone over the age of four with two legs and a big wheel, but I was also caught off guard when someone yelled "yellow line" right after th3 200m mark. Apparently the road was open, but I went back right anyway, and probably killed the race for some people behind me (Like First Rate Mortgage’s Dessa)
Moral of the story? Seven on one makes Ben’s legs hurt. I need a new plan.
Next race? I’m running a 5k on Saturday. Let’s see team tactics work against me there.
[As an aside, I borrowed a rear wheel with a power meter hub for the race on Saturday. It was pretty cool to see what wattage I could maintain (though the thrill of seeing high numbers probably made me go a lot harder than I needed to), and how that matches up with the intervals I’ve been doing on the computrainer. Plus, with my Garmin 305 and the Powertap computer, I had enough information on my handlebars I hardly needed to look at the road.]
[ok, one last thing because it’s not worth it’s own post: Take the awareness test before you drive your car again.]