One of the things that JP said earlier in the year in his shoes as the club's development director was, "You might be a sprinter with your friends but that's a lot different than being a sprinter in a race." The lesson is that you might have a sprint but in a race there's bound to be somebody bigger and stronger who can apply that pure power better than you can. Most people's best bet is to try to force a selection from which they can try to place, rather than to sprint against the whole field. The difference between a honest-to-goodness sprinter and someone who can occasionally sprint became obvious to me this weekend at the track, my first time out as a Cat 3. Unfortunately, only two other 1/2/3 riders had registered. One of them threw down the track's fastest Kilo time at Opening Weekend in April and a few weeks ago at the State Championships. The other is a Master's National Champion in the match sprint.
I had been hoping that a small field would be combined with others so that we could race some mass-start races, but it was only to be a handful of match sprints.
What played out "sprinting against" Andrew Lacorte reminded me of a scene from The Wire, when McNulty, roughly handled by bosses, and his partner Bunk are working their way toward getting belly-up at a bar. "You know why I respect you, Bunk? Because when it came time for you to screw me, you were very gentle." Bunk - as drunk or drunker than McNulty - replies, "I knew it was your first time. I wanted it to be special." Lacorte wouldn't let me slip away when I hammered from the whistle, so we danced around a little bit, kept the pace high, and when I started sprinting, he just held me on his rear wheel, increasing the pace deftly. He didn't ride away from me, which was either gentlemanly, or kid-glove treatment. Maybe both.
Later, in a 3-up sprint, I drilled it from the line as Colin tucked behind Lacorte, hoping that he would tire. Interested in an even playing field, I was trying to give Colin a fighting chance, which he had, though Lacorte held him off when they started sprinting in earnest (at this point, well ahead of me).
Afterward, Colin paid me a nice compliment. "When I was trying to come around him his arms were shaking. He looked tired at that point." Lacorte, overhearing this, responded, "That's a tactic." Maybe, but leading your competition to believe that fatigue is not fatigue, but a tactic - that's a tactic, too.
I made third place look easy yesterday, and besides, I got a chance to top off the tan line on my thighs.
And even though it was probably a stretch to say that I raced against Lacorte, it's still pretty cool to go head-to-head against a National Champion.
Photos linked from Mike Mahesh's blog.