The Chris Hinds "sunshine" Criterium put on by Arc en Ciel and Jon Lowenstein was the first opportunity for the Aetna- Expo Wheelmen crew to race together as a team in 2015 with Ben, Dave, Todd, new guy Jeremy and me all representing. J Lo managed to conjure up the sunshine, but the word for the day was WIND. I've lost count of how many times I have raced at Ninigret, but I can think of only one other occasion where wind speeds approached what we saw on Saturday. It was clear from the start that the race was going to end in fragments, with riders blown to the four corners of the world (or at least course). Our original intent was to get Todd in a break, but potentially roll with whatever we had going up the road. Like most plans that was quickly blown away.
The break of the day happened early with a strong group of six or so forging ahead off the front with none of us up there. Sporadic groups tried to bridge but one larger group finally formed and as Dave and I both moved to join, he waved me on. Given the severity of the winter and the concomitant delay in training, I was not planning on being up in a smaller group but figured now it was on me to get best placing or help if a teammate bridged. Dave did ultimately join my group, but he's been managing a nagging knee injury and could not stay with our group.
I tried to minimize efforts by sitting at the back and staying as sheltered as possible with the conditions, but brutal cross winds split me and several others off of our group. Being too stubborn to quit, I forged ahead solo until I caught up with a few other stragglers from the second group. We held steady for a while, within 25-40 sec of the group ahead, hoping they would ease up and we old somehow claw back on, but alas no.
In the end, we were lapped twice by the leaders, lapped several others multiple times and held about a half lap on Todd who was in the remnants of the peloton, which was joined by the group we lost contact with. If that gives some small impression of how confused the race was (since it seemed like nobody was pulled at all) it would explain the scoring nightmare JD and officials had. After two iterations, they at least got the top ten right, but DNF'd me and put the guys I was with (who were ahead of at least half the field) nearly dead last. So, even though Todd figured in the results well ahead of me, I get the honor of writing the race report. Despite (or because of) all the chaos, in the end it was a tremendous workout and well worth the effort.
I was then the only one foolish enough to line up for the 40+ masters race. There was a smaller field with fresh riders and I knew things were going to get ugly quickly. I used my race savvy to roll on the wheels of the strong men and somehow found myself in the lead group of six.
Despite my best efforts to suck wheel and survive, I was detached after the first prime, never to make it back on. Since we had almost a half lap on the rest, I switched into TT mode again, but my legs were fading. I had to wave the white flag and wait for the chase group after several laps and again tried to hold on while making a reasonable contribution.
Once we caught the remainder of the pack, things got really confused as lapped riders started responding to attacks from our group and fighting for wheels. I got split off the group with only a few laps to go and with little left in the tank limped in for the finish. Despite it all I still managed a respectable tenth place. But again, at the end of the day, I finished two races better than expected and came away with two and a half hours of racing in my legs to help along my fitness.