From: Sean Rhea
Subject: Wells Ave Race Report
Date: April 2, 2006 11:38:35 PM EDT
To: MIT Cycling Team

It's racing time!

I'm excited. I haven't raced competitively since 2004, and I've been slogging away the miles all winter, thinking of just this day. Now that the day is here, however, I'm nervous as hell. Being in Boston means I have neither my former teammates nor my former courses to judge my fitness on. I could be in great shape or terrible shape; I really have no idea.

I wake up at 6:30, as I have to eat, walk the dog, and get to the student center by 7:40 to meet the team and ride to the course. As I get out of bed, I feel awful. I've been having a bit of a sore throat problem lately, and I wonder if I should just go back to bed. Then I remember the time change. It's really 5:30; who wouldn't feel awful?

I meet John, Bryan, Nick, AJ, and Paul at the student center. Eric's slept in, so we head out without him. Once at the course, we all reg, then I sit down to wait. Everyone else is racing C's except me; the B's (Cat 3/4) race is later. As it turns out, the C's field is huge, so they split it. Our guys all decide to do the second race, so we all sit and watch the first one. Then they're up, and after cheering their start, I head off for a warm-up.

I'll let someone else tell the story of their race. All I saw was the finish, and I don't want to spoil it, except to say that they thugged the field.

Once they're done, I head straight to the line, mindful of the 100-rider field limit. Luckily, only around 40 have shown up, so the insanity should be manageable. Our start is chill and without incident, and I only hear one loser yell "Inside!" all day. I'm liking New England racing already.

Our race is 30 laps, and they start calling primes every 3 laps or so. That's a lot of sprinting. Still, I'm here for a workout, so I go for them all. In the first one, I completely misjudge the crowd and end up 5th. The next time, I've caught on to the fact that BRC is leading their guy out, and I sit on his wheel. It's a 20 MPH headwind up the finishing straight, so this should be all I need, but I come just short of taking him at the line, earning a 2nd.

The next time through I play the same game, and almost pull a really sweet hole shot, only to be boxed in at the last second, and come in 3rd. The next prime brings another 2nd place, but the following one I'm sure I have it. Unfortunately, there aren't enough people in front of me around the last corner, and my final guy blows up with 200 meters to go. Having no other choice, I come around him hard, put my head down and dig. 30 meters out I'm sure I have it, only to see a shadow coming up fast. I scream and kick hard, but I've been in the wind too long, and he takes it by an inch.

I ride up to him after the next turn and congratulate him, when a BRC guy rides up and screams that we have a break. I look, and he's right. It's a small one, but he has one teammate with him and four back in the pack who I figure will block, so I punch it. We form a six man paceline, and pretty soon we have a good gap.

The next 10 laps or so are pretty monotonous: pull hard, pull off, recover HR, repeat. We get two primes while off the front, a BRC guys sprints for the first one, and I pull through for the next. John yells our split out at each lap, and we maintain around a 20-second gap.

With about five laps to go, our gap drops to 12 seconds in a lap. Worse still, I mishear John and think it's dropped to 8. I scream at everyone else that we have to really start working and put in a really hard pull. When I rotate through, I notice we've dropped one of the BRC guys. Another few hard pulls, and two other guys pop as well, leaving just three of us in the break.

We hammer for the last three laps, everyone taking roughly even pulls. In the final sprint I manage to have perfect position at third wheel, but my legs are shot from all the primes, and when they stand up to go, I just can't quite wind it up. Still, I'm happy about the primes and the solid breakaway, so it's a good day.

When I collect my prizes after the race, they total $14. The entry fee was $11, so I made a $3 profit. It's a little thing, but I'm stoked.


Once, someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding for so long.
'Pleasure?' I said. 'I don't understand the question.' I didn't
do it for pleasure. I did it for pain.
-- Lance Armstrong