So hurrah May 9th, it’s so cold, damp and foggy I’ve accidentally moved back to England. Perfect. I point the car south for Monsters of the Midway. I’m doing the masters 35+/45+/55+ Cat 1,2,3 - a mouthful that means the best of the old fu(n)ckers.
Toe the line and it’s a decent field of about 40. I notice the service area is a bunch of peoples own wheels chucked in the median - no neutral support. I also recall my spare wheels sitting in the car…
A slow start, these guys have been round the block a few times. This block probably. No rush and crash, it just slowly relentlessly speeds up to ballbreakingly fast, with plenty of digs at the front, and immaculate 2 wide cornering. I chase one attack down and realise this, on top of the pace, and I’m in the red zone, resolving to rest up in the pack. Yet soon I’m second wheel to a scarlet fire rider who is pulling us around, he tires and moves offline but I’m not ready for another turn so I follow him wagging my elbow. At that moment there’s a deflating feeling from my back wheel.
To paraphrase Andres’ Hillsboro report, this race has turned into bad sex, a lot of excitement, then a big explosion and it’s all over too quick. But wait, it might not be a limp departure, I roll up the median on my flat tire and the USAC official asks if I have a spare wheel. ‘Yeah over there in my trunk’, ‘Go get it quick then’.
I leave the bike and run in cleats 100+ yards over grass and streets, pop the trunk, grab both spare wheels and run back. A Formula 1 speed wheel change and somehow I’m ready before the racers come around again, I’m cued up to go, held as a lead group of 4 go by, then pushed off into the pack.
It’s times like this I realise I must really love bike racing. Despite the cold and wet and bullshit of the monsters course with its cracks and holes there’s nowhere I’d rather be at this moment, working through the snaking pack as they attempt to chase down the lead group.
Before I know it, it’s two to go. I have something left to move up a bit, but the lead 4 are away for good. No point doing anything heroic. I’m still dithering on the last lap. On the back straight I go up the inside following a wheel, he tucks into a half gap and I can either continue forward to the front or hold behind him. I hold. Why I don’t know, but I’m round the last two turns in good shape but too far back, and the sprint is from the corner.
I wind up speed well and take two riders but no more. I’m relieved and delighted to finish at all. On the line I’m P8, but in this bag of cats and ages I’m also 2nd cat3 and 4th 45+. Wahey, 2 points for that entirely theoretical 3-2 upgrade.