Carl Dolan Memorial Classic Circuit Race: Failure to Launch

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This is a difficult race report to write. A lot happened at Carl Dolan and a lot didn’t. That all my insides are inside, my bones are together and where they should be, and that I’m able to write about the race from start to finish are things I’m thankful for. A lot of people weren’t as lucky. The top-10 finish is even better. But somehow, rolling across the line things felt unfinished.

What Didn’t Happen:

  • A tactical race: from the get-go, the field was resigned to a sprint finish. I can’t complain. I was waiting for it, too. Lesson learned. Racing your skill is great, but it doesn’t hurt to venture outside your comfort zone occasionally.
  • A solid sprint finish: a very out-of-sorts final kilometer saw the leadout men charging to the line while an array of sprinters scattered across the road.
  • A safe race: there are a lot of reasons for this and it’s nothing to bash anybody about. The kilometer long hill comes out of a fast downhill turn and it encourages the back of the field bunch back up with the front very quickly. This year, strong winds stifled the progress of the bunch even more. Riders in the back saw their opportunities to move to the front. The field size and category mixing played a role as well, I’m sure.
  • A hard test of fitness: why? All of the above. The race could have been safer if we’d committed to racing it hard. The sprint would have had fewer players with less bunching. Tactics apart from negative ones would have played a role. And we’d at least walk away feeling like we gave it a go and tried.

What Did Happen:

  • Crashes: left, right, all over. The aforementioned negative racing meant that 125 guys circled the very wide office park roads together, curb to curb. There were more incidents than I can count on one hand (and after that, I just give up – counting with both hands requires way too much coordination).
  • Race restart: as the field came around for five laps to go, it was neutralized. Two thirds of the way up the hill leading to the finish, a racer had crashed hard on the previous lap and failed to remount. When the race was restarted, what seemed like half the field had voluntarily withdrawn. Two laps were cut from the board to recoup some lost time.
  • An upright finish: in the final lap, I found my position and prepared for what I figured would be a lot of bumping. But with half a kilometer left to race, the rider in front of me went down, a result of the rider in front of him doing something or other that ended on the ground. Pierce and I both made it around safely, but not without watching the race go up the road. I sprinted from that point, but it was very obviously somebody else’s day. [One of those somebody else’s was our teammate James, who had been up front pacemaking. He motored in for second overall, which was good for the win of the cat 4 group. Awesome, James!]

So that was Dolan. There were little things I’d liked to have executed differently, but it’s difficult to accept because I know I could have done more and didn’t. It’s less than likely that the result would have been any better, but at least I’d have worked for it. Chalk it up for next time.