Submitted by Jeff Fisher
The good news; we missed the rain. The bad news; we missed the break.
We had a pretty good showing for Topsfield. Eric W. Ta, Jeff Y, Bruce, and I showed up to do the Pro 1/2/3 race. This was my first time doing the race so I had no idea what the course was like, but with 107 guys pre-registered, it was going to be tight racing regardless. My main concern and it looked like Eric’s as well, was to make sure we got to the front. That meant standing at the start for quite a while. So what warm I had done was certainly gone by the time we started. The first mile of the race was rather sedate which I thought was pretty nice. But that lasted all of about three minutes and then we were full gas with everyone trying to jam their way to the front. I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but that put my legs into the hurt locker. Being old, one needs a certain amount of time to get the blood going and the muscles working efficiently.
It has been 10 years since I’ve done a longish Pro 1/2/3 race and I forgot two things: the first was that the pace never slows down and the second is that the real racing starts in the second half of the race. That would turn out to be a costly error. For the first hour of racing, O/A was active at the front. I don’t think there was ever a break that didn’t have an O/A person in it. Between Eric, Jeff, Ta, and I, we covered just about every move. I bridged up solo to two breaks that I thought for sure were going to go, only to have them get reeled back in.
I hadn’t looked at my computer once, mostly because it was too hectic, but when I did it happened to be at the hour mark and we had already gone more than 27 miles. Yikes! At this point I decided I needed to take a break which also seemed to be what the rest of the team was thinking. So with about five laps left I started going backwards. At the same time I noticed Bill Yarbroudy, who hadn’t been at the front at all, moving forwards. If there ever was a guy who is always in the right move at the right time it was Bill. Mentally I knew I should be watching him and all the warning bells were going off in my head, but my legs were complaining so I just hoped nothing would go.
With about three to go, I started moving back up through the field. I could see Ta was still up near the front having a great race, but Eric was back in the middle of the pack and I had no idea where Jeff Y and Bruce were. At this point I was maybe 20 guys from the front when I saw the break starting to form. I could just feel that this was it but I was too far back. I was trying to send Ta and John Grenier psychic messages to get in that move, but it didn’t work. I guess I need to work on my mental powers more. With two to go I was now back up near the front but it was probably a 15 second gap that needed to be closed. At the speed we were going I wasn’t sure I could close that on my own so I hoped that there were some motivated and strong legs left in the group. Unfortunately there weren’t. The gap stayed at about 20 seconds and that was it.
On the last half of the last lap, I figured I wouldn’t have much of a sprint since I was paying for early aggression. I led it out hoping that Ta or John would have something left for the field sprint. So definitely a mistake in tactics this time around. One of us should have held back for the second half of the race. I really think we could have been in the eventual break if we had been saving our legs.
So, how fast was Topsfield this year? 51.5 miles in 1:54; yes that was fast…
Jeff F: 34th
Jeff Y: ?