Baskets of regret

When they published the schedule for this year’s USA Cycling Masters Nationals, I felt the heads of hundreds of masters racers shake in unison. Why would anyone schedule the road race (for the biggest fields) the day before the time trial? The answer that came back was: we’re trying to minimize people’s travel expenses.

Guys like me were then faced with a decision: do the road race and likely lessen your chances in the time trial? Or skip the road race and put all your eggs in the TT basket? Or just do the road race and forget the TT?

I waffled. After finishing 5th in last year’s TT then crashing in the road race, I was looking to place better in both events. Even after signing up for both, I waffled. After a good ride at the Ohio state TT championship (3rd overall), I waffled more.

Thurlow Rogers (winner the past 3 years) was not signed up. This could be a real chance for a top 3 in the TT. The road race is more of a crap shoot; you never know what is going to happen. Why not focus on the TT – the race where you can most control your outcome?

Either way, I knew there was a good chance I’d end up regretting whichever decision I made.  I hate that feeling.

In the end, I decided to do both races. I told myself I would do the road race without worrying about saving it for the next day. It didn’t work. Three riders got away 5 miles into the race. One of them was one of the “danger men” I planned on watching. But I was trying not to do too much work too early. They stayed away, subsequent attacks were chased, no chase could get organized, and I decided to stop with 5 miles left to start recovering for the next day.

It felt like a wasted effort. Not how I like to race.

The next morning my legs felt decent considering the minimal recovery time. And I had a decent ride. I felt like I got pretty close to the right pacing, considering the hilliness and having ridden the course only once beforehand. But when I crossed the line and saw my time, I wasn’t too confident of making top 3, let alone top 5 again.

It was very close though:

1 Matthew Wukasch 00:30:16.80 Champion Porsche
2 Kevin Metcalfe       00:30:24.40 Team Specialized Racing Master
3 Brendan Sullivan   00:30:38.00 Iron Data Racing
4 William Henry        00:30:47.40 Vic’s Espresso/Peerless
5 Simon Walker         00:30:48.00 Suburban Health Sports/Soroff
6 Brian Batke              00:30:49.10 Carbon Racing

Before getting too regretful, it should be noted that 2nd and 3rd like me did the road race (and congrats to Brendan Sullivan, who I beat by 1 second in the TT last year). They might now be thinking, “could I have won the TT had I not done the road race?”

Yes, regret is a cruel emotion.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Baskets of regret

  1. Brendan

    Brian,

    Brendan here. This looks like my annual contribution to your blog (post Nationals) :).

    I completely agree with your post on scheduling and hard decisions. I wrote to the organizers immediately to complain, but never got a response. It caused me to switch my training focus from TT to Road. I figured I would have a gamblers chance in the RR come what may, but unless I was really fit enough to win the TT, it wasnt worth the gamble to shelve plans in the RR, especially as it is not a cheap trip to travel and stay etc. As it happens, now I am wondering how many seconds I lost in the TT by doing the RR. I think Metcalfe in 2nd is probably thinking the same, especially as the times in general were all fairly close. But thats life, and personally I think I rode as well as I could in the TT.

    Like most my bigger regret is missing the 3 man break in the RR. Although, you have to say they did an amazing job staying out there. I know Janne and Chris are very strong, and it doesnt surprise me that they toughed it out. If I were close enough to jump with them, I am still not sure I would have so early in the race. I figured that the race would break up by the 6th lap, and then some stronger riders would get organized and start a controled chase. Of course it didnt happen, although there was a few laps there where quite a few of us tried to shake it up, and it looked like it might slim down at one point.

  2. Brian

    Hey Brendan,

    I was looking for you at the start of the road race, but wasn’t sure what your kit looked like.

    I know Halverson from racing at Superweek, and know he will give it everything to make a break work. So he was one I was watching. Before the race I told someone that without any big teams, an early break could work. Didn’t follow my own warning. I tried several times also … once on the climb and a couple on the flatter sections, to no avail.

    With the TT, being able to ride the course a few more times (ie, by skipping the RR) would have been as valuable as the fresh legs. But as you say, that is life. I can’t be too dissatisfied either.

    Still a nice result overall for you — the only one on the podium both days.

  3. Brendan

    Nearly made it three in the crit. I was 6/7 seconds clear at the bell with another rider, we got clear with 7 to go. For some reason I cannot explain I started pedaling the corners to get every last ounce of speed coming out and I clipped a pedal 3/4 of a lap to go, lost control and went over the crash barrier. Would have been interesting to see if we would have held on. If we are both fit next year, lets hook up. Not sure family and work will enable the same training loads for me, but we’ll see.

  4. Brian

    Man, that’s a tough break. Sorry to hear that. Surely would have earned you the “Best All-Around” award (official or otherwise). Actually you might still have earned that, regardless of crashing.

    My guess is they’ll move the event west next year. But yeah, if we’re both there, let’s get together.

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