opus #1

Yay, another race report. Tonight began the six-week OPUS crit series, which is supposed to go every Tuesday night until the end of May. Due to the fuzz, the po-po, the (mmmm, I smell bacon!) boyz in blue getting a little crabby about some alleged traffic violations, there are rumors afoot that the series may get shut down. Just rumors though. Tonight's shut-down, just after my race finished, coincided neatly with the onset of some serious thunder and lightning, so I am suspicious of the rumors. We shall see.

Anyway, the women's open field tonight may have been a new record, either 21 or 22 racers. Last year we had between 10 and 15 most nights. I was hoping it would be hard from the gun so the pack would get strung out a bit, seeing as probably half the women there had never raced before, but I was toward the back and didn't have much say in that. And it didn't go that way. For the first three laps the pace was pretty moderate, but OPUS is a points race with sprints every three laps, and the first sprint usually breaks the pack up pretty well. I'm not sure what happened at the back, but from where I sat it went like this: the first three girls across the line, including both Belgian Bella and my illustrious teammate Paula, got a good gap on the rest of the field. I tried briefly to bridge to them but quickly realized that a) I was towing the field behind me, and b) we weren't going to regroup, it was an honest-to-god break, and my teammate was in it. So I sat up.

Nobody organized any real chase, so the break stayed away for the rest of the race. And since the three in the break automatically got all the points in the second sprint, we didn't have a second points sprint. The group stretched and bunched and stretched and bunched and did the usual inchworm thing for the next five or so laps, while I primarily occupied myself with avoiding one particularly sketchy girl whose team shall remain nameless, but she wasn't one of ours. Thank goodness for that. At one point I heard the terrifying sound of wheels rubbing together very near me, but nobody went down (again, thank goodness for that). And then, because there are only nine laps in the women's race, the bell was ringing and it was time to get my sorry ass off the back of the pack and into a workable position. I used the downhill to scoot up to about midpack on the outside edge, then moved up more gradually as we approached the finish, and waited for somebody to jump. The girl who finally did jump went way too soon if you ask me, but too late, game on, so I went after her and so did everybody else. I didn't have a wheel to lead me out, though, so I just had to try and hold it for as long as I could, which wasn't quite long enough -- I held second for a long time but it was a long long sprint and I started to fade, at which point two other girls came around me, and I crossed the line in fourth position for seventh overall.

During our race, thunder had started to rumble and a few fat raindrops were falling, but within a couple minutes of the finish, we ran out of luck. Between that and whatever had transpired with the cops, there didn't end up being any more races, so we went home.

Here are some pictures of the pack sprint (remember the three-woman break had already finished, so this was a sprint for fourth). I am on the left, blue helmet & armwarmers. (Shawn, as promised, I am on my bike yet not smiling. Those races, I tell ya. Something about the burning throat and the tunnel vision kind of wipes the smile right off.)

The pictures were taken by photographer extraordinaire Bruce Adelsman, and there are many more available on his page. Go check 'em out.


Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

You look good Annie.

4/19/2006 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Stan said...

Looks like fun. Do you get that little line of dirt on your front teeth at the end of a race? The race-grimace did that every time.

4/19/2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger annie said...

Stan, I've never actually looked in a mirror right after a race. I'm a little afraid to. Dirt on my teeth is entirely plausible, though.

4/19/2006 11:23 AM  
Anonymous kris said...

that girl that went way too early didnt want to go early either. i was caught behind a bit of braking and swerving. ouch. that hurt.

4/19/2006 12:04 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Was that you that went first, Kris? I couldn't tell, I was just hanging out and all of a sudden we were sprinting, but I wasn't sure who had started it. It looked from the pictures like it might've been Maria but I don't know. I just know that when it started I was like "oh crap, not already!"

4/19/2006 12:58 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

good to see you found the drops instead of the hoods during your sprint this time, but I hate to say, that sprinting for fourth place in a points race sprint means precisely shit for anything other than practice....

4/19/2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Oh, bite my ass, Andy. Are you saying those of us without a chance at the top three shouldn't even show up? Seventh is better than eighth, so I sprinted for seventh. And I'm happy with it, "shit" though it may be. And if you hate to say it, then don't.

4/19/2006 1:56 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

I did not mean that in a negative way. It was more a commentary on the points race format - points only go 3 deep in any sprint, including the finish. If you don't score any points during the race, your name doesn't show up on the results sheet, no matter where you placed in the final. So yes, you could theoretically score 5 points in the first sprint, then sit up and let the pack pass you and ride by yourself for the rest of the race, and you'll finish higher in the final results than many of the people who finish the race before you.

At the track, you'd have to avoid getting lapped, because then you'd lose 20 points, but they don't score it that way at Opus (I think). So in theory you could even go so far as to get lapped a few times after scoring points and you wouldn't lose them.

They are "training" crits so I do understand the desire to get training value in, so sprinting for 4th makes sense from that perspective, but it doesn't get you into the race results.

I'm sorry if that came across too negatively.

4/19/2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger annie said...

I know how points races work, Andy. Only 3 people got any points at all in our race last night, and try as you might, you will not convince me that the rest of the field should have just rolled into the parking lot and took a nap once the break got away.

Besides, in almost any race the prizes only go three deep, so I don't see the difference between "if you can't get points don't try" and "if you're not going to win, stay home." I don't care. As a mere second year racer I am racing because I care what place I get no matter how low it is. I am racing for me, not for points or prizes or anything. If I am in a field of 15, I will sprint my ass off for 12th just because it's better than 13th, and that is okay with me. Give me a few years and maybe then I will worry about the phat cash.

4/19/2006 2:22 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

The person ahead of you appears to be smiling. Maybe -- if you smile you will be ahead.

4/20/2006 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Kris said...

you are right on, annie. the value of opus is training and its better than you could get alone. everybody knows how the points race works (except maybe some newbies who sprinted on the 6th lap-god!) you did awesome...that was a very very long sprint. You handily beat at least one cat 2!! granted, i'm sure she's trying to peak in july or so, but still!! oh, hint from a grizzled veteran of womens racing...get used to some men always having an opinion about womens racing.

4/20/2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger annie said...

People sprinted on the 6th lap? Jeez, I didn't see that, I must've been chillin' on the back at that point. That is pretty funny. Maybe they didn't know how deep the points went and were playing it safe just in case there were points...? Then again, the fact that the bell didn't ring should have been a pretty good first clue!

4/20/2006 9:13 AM  
Blogger Smithers said...

I am racing for me, not for points or prizes or anything.

That's the only reason to race! You can't lose!

Give me a few years and maybe then I will worry about the phat cash.

Not much phat cash to be had around here...better to just keep racing for the fun of it! When things start getting serious the fun starts to ebb away.

Biking contests should be all about having fun and wearing cool biking costumes.

4/20/2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Stan said...

Agreed. There is almost never any reason to not try at all times, particularly in training races. Even if you're sprinting for last place, it's good practice. (Of course when I raced, I always slacked off and didn't contest final sprints if I was in a breakaway. I was always satisfied if I could just coast across the line for 5th place or something like that. Dunno why.)

4/20/2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger annie said...

Yeah, Smithers, my biking costume rocks. Or at least it would if it was here. Rumor has it the shiny new biking costumes will get here on Monday....

And, for the record, if that hadn't been an open field I would have gotten the phat cash, because I was the first cat 4 to cross the line, so there. Goddamn open fields, that's the third time in a row that I have been denied the phat cash for that reason. I could be RICH by now.

4/20/2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

Awesome race! Fun to read the report and to see the flurry of comments afterward (and as another grizzled oldie, there are always opinions from the other side).

P.S. I tried to make my wheels larger, but even Photoshop can't do something with nothing...serious....


4/20/2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Yes, well, YOU are not the one who gets regular blog hits for the search term "miniboobs." Hmph.

4/20/2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

bits-o-boob, tinytits, nanonips...

sorry, got on a bit of a roll there.

4/21/2006 3:44 PM  

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