Sterling Classic Road Race

Full-field neutralization, then full-field sketchiness on last lap. Mike got 9th, I got ~12th, Mike has special powers that allow him to appear from nowhere to beat me by a small margin.

Well that went... not horribly?

Mike Farrar and I were the only 4s to make the drive to Sterling for the road race. For those that haven't raced it before, Sterling is an 8 mile loop with a sprinty hill climb into the start/finish, then a longer more gradual climb after the line. The other 7 miles or so are rolling without much to separate the pack. The only space to move up was on the aforementioned climbs and the two-lane highway that preceded them. We were doing 5 laps for 40 miles.

There were 100 pre-reg'd riders for the 4s, at least ~85-90 of which graced us with their presence. This included a bunch of MRC riders (obviously, its their race), all 20 of the (younger, not yet-elite) Goguens, some other juniors that may or may not have been Goguens, and an assortment of other riders.

The course didn't really lend itself to a lot of maneuvering, which was OK, because I was content to sit in for the first 35 miles or so. Having consumed beer and liquor every night since finals ended, I didn't want to overexert myself. For the first 4 laps I followed a strict regimen of attacking up the gutter on the highway to get to 4th wheel and sitting there until the climb, where I would either stick to the wheels of anyone attacking or (more often) execute a "Gentleman's Slide" back to 8th wheel or so. During this time period breaks would go, they would be brought back (but not by me), and life would go on. 

At the beginning of lap 4 Mike rode up and asked me how I felt - I answered honestly with "OK". He told me he wasn't really feeling it, which was disheartening. I am always supposed to be the most pessimistic one in road races. In every race longer than 35 miles that I've ever done, all I want to do from the gun until 5k to go is quit bike racing. Flat tires, crashes, death, or dismemberment become attractive options. If other people (like Mr. Farrar) sound less enthused than me, I expect them to be on the verge of complete failure.

However, I overcame my hour and a half of crushing depression to make it to the final lap. Mike and I were sitting roughly mid-field of our probably 50-60 man field coming out of the climb. This is where things got interesting. There was still one man up the road at this point, whose time gap had decreased from 1:15 to 0:40 over the last few miles. We were cruising at a decent rate through the rollers when I heard some guy yell "ON YOUR LEFT" and come shooting by over the yellow line. I told him in no uncertain terms what part of the human anatomy I thought he was, when I read his number. 500-something. Whoops. Sorry Masters leader. Cue obvious foreshadowing here.

We kept riding at a similar pace until probably 3 miles to go in the race, when the neutral support vehicles/police cars/pace moto all went haywire and started yelling at us. Yup. Neutralized. The only problem with this being that we're on bell lap, and they aren't. We stop, get off our bikes, bitch and moan for a minute, then start again. I forget that we're racing and fall back 5 wheels. Whoops. We're about to get spit out onto the highway, where Shit Will Go Down when I realize that we're 200 feet behind the Masters. We get on the highway andshit goes down. I jump up to 3rd row and we execute the sketchiest full-field pass ever. At one point I looked to my right and realized the pace moto was in the middle of our frenzied-end-of-race-Cat4 peloton, directly on my right hip. At this point I saw Jesus, and asked him to please spare my life, because Sterling MA would be a shitty place to die.

We pull clear of the old folks and take the turn into the climb. At this point Mike is nowhere to be seen, and I realize that I'm it for the great GLV 4 Squad of Mediocrity. Some guy forgets how to corner, pilots his machine directly off the road, then goes flying back into it. He quickly dispels the offensive notion that uphill finishes are safer, and takes out a few people. I had decent (not great) position, and lost a couple spots to sprightly climbers but gained a bunch more by passing all the sparky juniors. This confused me greatly, as juniors all weigh 80 pounds and have compact gearing by law. But whatever. At least I beat Mike! Then I look up the road and see Mike. DAMMIT MIKE STOP DOING THAT. Dude magically teleports ahead of me in every race, which is a pretty dumb use of magical powers if you ask me.

Final results - Mike got 9th. Because they paid out to 8th. And Mike does not believe in prize money.
I got...something directly behind Mike. But not top 10. 12? Maybe.