For some reason, after tonight's training race I'm in a reflecting kind of mood. Tonight, for some reason, I felt really good.
The start was clean, and I pulled for some of the first lap. Legs felt good. A couple laps into it, the pace up front went up and I chased, finding myself in a fun but short-lived 3-man breakaway. We got caught, but hey.
A couple laps later, another breakaway goes off and I'm behind a guy who looks like a total newb, and I'd never seen him before. The gap gets a little bigger, and finally I say "you gonna cover that gap?" The silence told me no, and now I knew I was stuck with it. Friggin' newb, I thought... and kinda chuckled to myself. I kicked it in and pulled hard at the front of the pack and chased down the breakaway.
I sat in for a couple more laps, and on the bell lap I found myself 2nd behind what I hoped would be my leadout man. I followed him along the right edge of the road--bad idea. He blew up on the final climb and the pack was already coming around us--I was totally boxed in. 200m from the finish I'm about 20-30m from the back of a pack of 10 contesting the sprint, and for a few seconds I whip out a big sprint before the futility of it all became apparent. Win some, lose some.
Now I won't claim to be a seasoned racer, or the fastest guy out there, but I think back to May when I rode my first race (this same training crit), and I really felt like I had a handle on the race, and where I was spit out the back 4 laps into my first race I'm now sitting at the front of the pack, taking pulls, attacking, and chasing down breakaways. It's a great feeling.
I haven't won a 5 race, but I've managed some good top 10's and finished mid-field in a tough RR. Guess it's time to cat up and go back to getting completely smoked. I need one more mass start by my count... I'm planning to work my a$$ off in the off-season to put up some decent results in the 4's, but we'll see how strong I come out in the spring....
Thanks to all of you for the advice and encouragement along the way!